As I've said roughly 9,405 in the last couple of weeks, 2014 was a fun season.
Preparing to write this column (and PART ONE) has only confirmed this for me. Going back and re-watching games I'd already forgotten about was a rocking good time. It's amazing how different it is re-watching a game for fun when you already know the outcome. You're able to just ENJOY it a whole lot more without the stress of worrying the Chiefs will lose. At least that's my experience.
In the last column I went over four of my "most fun" moments of 2014. Today, let's finish it out. This list is by no means exhaustive or meant to tell you what YOUR most fun moments should be. This list is all about me and how I feel. I'm pretty selfish like that.
So without further ado, I present the final four moments I enjoyed the most of the 2014 season. One of them is a bit bittersweet. The rest are just too sweet.
Eric Berry Returns vs. the Jets
The game against the Jets itself wasn't particularly memorable for me. In fact, I distinctly recall feeling pretty underwhelmed after the Chiefs struggled to defeat a pretty bad Jets squad.
What made watching the Jets game even more of a bummer (despite the win) was what appeared to be a pretty lackluster return to action for Chiefs safety Eric Berry. By all appearances watching the broadcast, Berry had a pretty "meh" game all around, and was harshly criticized for allowing a big completion to Chris Johnson.
All in all, it was a little discouraging. So where's the fun?
Well, the fun came later, when I got a chance to sit down and review the all-22 film. As Berry was the popular topic of the week, I didn't feel like I had much of a choice but to report on his "disappointing" return to action.
A few hours later I was forced to eat some of the most delicious crow I've ever tasted. I discovered that not only had Berry played a good game, he'd played a borderline brilliant one, preventing multiple big plays.
Of course, it wasn't too long after that that Berry's play began to seemingly slip. It wasn't anything too major, and quite frankly went mostly unnoticed. But that "burst" I saw in his return to action was ... well, it was missing. This became especially noticeable against the Raiders on Thursday Night Football, when Berry was unable to catch up to a sprinting Latavius Murray.
Of course, we now know what was going on. And suddenly the sight of Berry not able to sprint down a running back makes a whole lot more sense.
Obviously, there's more going on with Eric Berry right now than football. But the possibility does exist that we may have seen the last of "force of nature" Eric Berry (MAN I hope he's back and better than ever). You know, the guy who could run down receivers but hit like a 250-pound linebacker.
That Jets game was the last time I saw Berry exhibit that frightening, incredible burst of speed that stood out to all of us from the first time he came onto the draft radar. He had a special game, and no one will ever convince me the Chiefs win that day had anyone but Eric Berry been playing safety. He prevented multiple touchdowns that day. It was glorious.
I will really, really miss watching Eric Berry play like ERIC BERRY if he doesn't make it back at full strength (though I wouldn't count the guy out). Watching him come back so strong was loads of fun, and the possibilities for him (and our defense) seemed endless.
Get well, Eric.
The Comeback vs. The Bills
I am really, really sick of the Chiefs playing the Bills. They ALWAYS give the Chiefs problems. And now that their defensive front is basically the equivalent of a barbarian horde, it's even worse. I was genuinely afraid for Alex Smith's safety when the Chiefs traveled to Buffalo. He was getting hit more often than that time a group of guys caught me stealing out of their car (true story. I was a teenager looking for trouble and absolutely found it. Long story short... I never "car shopped" again. Still have a couple scars from that incident. Teenagers, man...)
I still can't believe the Chiefs, with the offensive line they were marching out, managed to come back from down 10 against that Bills defense. I wrote extensively about a drive that played a huge role in that comeback. It was incredible to watch because it was so NOT what we saw from the Chiefs offense much of the year. There was bold downfield passing, a wide receiver getting himself open, and some plays with an actually clean pocket.
If you've got that game recorded, go back and watch it. The drive that started the comeback can be found at the 3:06 minute mark in the 3rd Quarter. It's so much fun. It featured Smith and Bowe playing as well as they played this year, and an absolutely fantastic / gutsy / surprising / perfect 4th and 1 play call that turned into a huge touchdown run by Jamaal Charles.
However, despite ALL the great stuff on that drive, it's not the "most fun" moment I'm thinking of. No, the most fun moment of that game was the moment the Chiefs moved ahead on the scoreboard.
You remember the play. Alex Smith takes the snap, fakes the handoff to Charles on a read option, and sprints left. You can see him decide midway through the run "I'm scoring here even if I take a shot." Smith dives into the end zone (and does indeed take a shot), jumps up screaming, and the Chiefs get a lead they never surrender.
There were other great moments in that game. Ron Parker knocking down pass after pass thrown his direction as he temporarily morphed into a beast at corner was pretty epic. Travis Kelce shaking loose to catch the 1st down that sealed the game is prime fist-bump material. But honestly, as tense as the game was, after Smith's dive I was certain the Chiefs were going to win the rest of the way. Well, like 99% certain.
Pounding the Patriots
Obviously, this was making the list.
I don't even know where to start. The national stage. The utter destruction of Seattle's noise "record" (yep, they get quotation marks). Andy Reid's scripted drives undressing Bill Belichick. The introduction of roughly a dozen offensive sets we'd never seen. The defense completely shutting down the Patriots (one meaningful touchdown allowed). The entire country going "whoa" on Twitter in reaction to Travis Kelce. Husain Abdullah putting an absolute dagger in New England's.
Of course, the narrative at the time was that the Patriots were a beaten and over-the-hill team, and Tom Brady was finished. We now know that wasn't true, and the Chiefs simply destroyed a good team (I'd say "very good," but The Gronk was slightly hobbled still. He's their MVP).
Watching this game we all felt a combination of joy, relief, and complete amazement. I'm not sure I've ever seen the Chiefs dominate a game on both sides of the ball quite so convincingly. It wasn't a contest, it was a massacre. And boy was it fun.
That said, nothing will hold a candle fun-wise to my favorite moment of the year (which you all obviously know is coming).
Chiefs Beat Seahawks Due To My Presence At Arrowhead
OK, it PROBABLY wasn't my presence that led to the victory against the Seahawks. But you can't prove it wasn't, can you?
The game against the Seahawks was when the Chiefs peaked this season. Unfortunately, it was a tad early for peaking and the team followed it up with a crushingly disappointing loss to Oakland (...and Denver, and Arizona. Sigh...)
But none of that had happened yet on November 16. We didn't know what was to come. All we knew is the Chiefs had faced up against the toughest team in the league, gone shot-for-shot with them, and came out on top. It wasn't a fluke, either. The Chiefs lost the turnover battle but simply made more plays.
The sky was the limit after that game. Watching Dontari Poe inhale Russell Wilson for a sack, watching the Chiefs run game overwhelm the vaunted Seahawks defense... it seemed believable that the Chiefs could beat anyone. It was a great feeling to have (for, you know four days or so. Stupid Raiders).
Of course, for this "writer," the game itself was the culmination of a fantastic road trip with Mrs. MNchiefsfan in which I ate not one but TWO Z-men the night before. Everything is better with two Z-men in your stomach. That is a scientific fact.
Maybe the most lasting image from the game is Travis Kelce doing things that make him Travis Kelce.
That video will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever get old. I will be watching that when I'm 80 and laughing.
But even that wasn't the pinnacle of "fun moments." No, the absolute peak, the moment I knew it was over and everything was awesome and great and amazing, came late in the 4th. You can watch it here.
It's 4th and 1. The Seahawks, the most physical team in the NFL, hand off the ball to Marshawn Lynch, the most physical running back in the NFL.
And Beast Mode meets brick wall. No gain. Turnover on downs. Pandemonium at Arrowhead.
When I think back on the 2014, I'll remember a ton of things. But watching the Chiefs stuff the Seahawks on 4th and 1 will absolutely be the memory that stands out the most.
Again, it was a fun year. Maybe next year the fun will extend into January. Let the offseason begin.