My wife does not really care about football.
This is something I've come to accept. My wife cares about the Chiefs only for the sake of caring about me. And her "caring" basically consists of not throwing sharp objects at me if I talk about them for longer than a couple of minutes. She can probably name more players than a lot of other "football wives," and her takes are FANTASTIC (seriously, whenever I can get her to actually sit down and watch games she notices something about a player I did not), but she's not diehard fan. Or even really a fan.
So when something happens on a football field that causes her to audibly gasp and put her hands over her mouth in shock, you know it's bad.
I didn't see Jamaal Charles fumble the football.
I'd seen the blocking break down and assumed he would be tackled, and I looked down to grab a $7 bottle of water to parch the thirst of an evening spent screaming. I heard Arrowhead roar, but in an unnatural way. For some reason (maybe husband instinct, making sure she was OK as I heard her gasp?), I looked at my wife before I looked at the field.
She was holding her hands over her mouth and looked utterly shocked, staring at the field like someone had snapped a leg or something.
I instantly (this all happened in the space of a moment, mind you) whipped my head around just in time to watch a Broncos defender running toward the end zone. My mind went numb and I plopped into my chair.
Now don't get me wrong, I recovered pretty quickly. Even as the people around us were cursing and leaving, I was already at the point where I could laugh about it with my wife. I know it makes me a bit weird, but gut punch losses don't stick on me like they used to. Maybe I've grown older and wiser. Maybe I'm just not hardcore enough anymore. Maybe I've become numb to disappointment from the Chiefs and can now laugh about it. But whatever the reason, that loss didn't hit me as hard as it did most people.
I THINK (and I could be wrong here) that my biggest reason for not totally melting down is the simple fact that it's the 2nd week of the NFL season. Anything can happen from here. As I pointed out on Twitter, the Chiefs have a better record now than they did this time last year. They aren't staring at one blowout loss and one really convincing loss in the rear view mirror. There's a crap ton of football left to play, and whether the Chiefs are destroyed by this game is yet to be determined. They could start the season 1-3 and still finish in the playoffs. That's football.
Of course, losing like THAT kinda sucked. The Chiefs spent the entire game outplaying the Broncos, then basically handed it over to them (and by basically, I meant literally). No one wants to see that.
But life (and we) move on. On to Green Bay. I'll be looking at the film (Jaye Howard and Marcus Peters are of particular interest to me), but for today we're going to stick with a few "MNchiefsfan Road Trip" observations.
MNchiefsfan Road Trip Observation #1 - The Reports of Manning's Demise have NOT been exaggerated
"But MN, Manning led that touchdown drive to tie the game! He had 3 touchdowns! How can you say he's done when he's so clearly still great?"
I'm not saying Manning is suddenly a bad quarterback. He's not. But he's absolutely no longer Peyton Freaking Manning. His arm is shot. His passes hang in the air a full second longer than any other quarterback I've watched live. Yes, that includes Matt Cassel.
His accuracy is still decent a lot of the time, but the passes take SO LONG to get there that it gives defenders time to recover. My wife (who, remember, has zero "homer" in her and is as brutally honest as anyone I've ever met) was stunned at how bad Peyton looked for the vast majority of the game, and only my insisting she not feel bad for a Bronco kept her from sympathizing (she's too kindhearted, that woman).
The reason Manning is overthrowing the deep passes is that he's got to put everything he's got into them. Ruins accuracy. If his footwork isn't good he chucks it yards short or at the feet of his WR (something he almost never did before). He can't throw on the run, and he can barely run. When he went back to the shotgun he improved, but it was much more a situation where Sanders and Thomas bailed Manning out with good catches down the stretch.
Can Manning still lead some good drives? Yes. Can he pick on a weakness in the secondary? Clearly. And are his wide receivers good enough to help him out? Absolutely. But Manning does not scare me. He threw at least 3 more passes that should have been intercepted Thursday in addition to his pick-6 to Peters.
Take out Fleming and put in Sean Smith and how does that game change?
Per PFF, when Manning targeted Fleming he was 9/13 for 123 yards and a TD. Which means he was 17/32 for 133 yards vs. everyone else.— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) September 20, 2015
I'm a guy who went into the game saying I'd be scared of Manning until shown otherwise. Whatever the scoreboard says, I no longer FEAR Pey-Pey.
MNchiefsfan Road Trip Observation #2 - The Broncos take lots of cheap shots
Sure, you saw some of them at home. But there were more going on that didn't get flagged. Lots more. I never really LIKED Von Miller before Thursday, but I didn't actively hate him. That's changed. That guy takes more cheap shots than nearly any player I've seen.
We get it, Von. You're not as good as Justin Houston and that frustrates you. But that's no reason to take out your anger on down quarterbacks and ball carriers.
It's actually kind of nice. Between Von and Sanders there's some actual bad blood in the rivalry again.
MNchiefsfan Road Trip Observation #3 - The Z-man remains the answer to all questions
The night of the game I was brought a pair of Z-mans. Seriously. That happened. I love you guys.
And in case you're thinking, "man, that Z-man has gotta be like an hour old at least at this point. There's no way a lukewarm Z-man is any good," let me assure you it's still amazing. Between that and the burger Ryan Scott Hall made for me, I was fantastically fed Thursday (shout out to Craig for the potato salad Mrs. MNchiefsfan enjoyed). Mike Howard, you da real MVP.
And what's better than a slightly aged Z-man? Two fresh ones.
Today is a good day. pic.twitter.com/xrGaxQiSra— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) September 18, 2015
Worth the trip all by themselves, although it took me the entire evening to recover from that meal. I miss you already, Joe's.
MNchiefsfan Road Trip Observation #4 - Jaye Howard is getting really, really good
I'm going to be looking at the film on this one, but on almost every great run stop it was Howard causing chaos in the backfield. He genuinely looked like the best defensive lineman on the field out there. He made more plays than Poe, DeVito, or Bailey. His first step is a thing of beauty.
That's another bargain-bin find by John Dorsey. He's paid to keep some of those guys around, and I hope they're on the horn with Howard's agent NOW. He's going to get more expensive by the game.
MNchiefsfan Road Trip Observation #5 - The Chiefs gave a game away they should have won
Any Denver fan who tells you they feel GOOD about their team moving forward is absolutely lying through his or her teeth. Let 'em have that lie. Their team won the game, so the rules of fan conduct insist that we put up with whatever they want to say. The Chiefs barfed up a game, so we pay the price. Them's the breaks, folks.
But seriously... the Broncos needed to have nearly everything break in their favor to win that game. They needed...
1) ... the Chiefs best CB to be out so Manning had someone to pick on.
2) ... Alex Smith to throw a WILDLY uncharacteristic interception (2nd one his arm got hit. That first one was crazy).
3) ... the Chiefs to drop a couple of absolute gimme picks.
4) ... Reid to have one of his "this happens a couple times a year but we put up with it because Reid is a really good head coach in most respects" awful games calling plays.
5) ... Finally, they needed to get INSANELY luck with recovered fumbles. The Chiefs coughed up the ball 3 times and every single time the Broncos recovered. There's been a ton of research done regarding fumbles, and while FORCING fumbles is something of a team skill, recovering fumbles has been proven time and again to be mostly random. It's essentially a coin flip. The fact that Denver recovered all 3 was, quite simply, lucky.
And with ALL THAT breaking in their favor, the Broncos won by the skin of their teeth.
I know a lot of you are angry, and I don't blame you. I get it. But I can only grin after a loss like that. Had any one of those factors not broke in favor of Denver, they lose. I feel pretty OK about the rematch in Denver. We'll see how the team respond. I'm not terribly optimistic about a road game in Green Bay, but the Chiefs should have an easier time moving the ball after consecutive weeks of very, very, very good defenses.
MNchiefsfan Road Trip observation #6 - Arrowhead can get LOUD
I've never been super impressed with Arrowhead's noise. I mean, last year at the Seattle game it hurt my ears quite a bit. But it wasn't "deafening" or anything like that, you know?
Man, you people weren't kidding when you told me division games were different. My head is still ringing. From the Eric Berry introduction (a fantastic moment I'm glad to have been there for) to the Peters pick-6 (yes, I'll be doing some charting of his all-22 film, he looked fantastic), the crowd was absolutely insane. I had to cover my ears for a little bit to get the headache to go away. And I loved every second of it.
MNchiefsfan Road Trip observation #7 - I'm never sorry I went to Arrowhead
I've seen one really bad game (the "we are not gladiators" game in 2012), one horrifically bad game (2014 season opener vs. the Titans), one fantastic game (2014 vs. the Seahawks), and one game that teased me with fantastic before turning into an awful gut punch (Thursday night) at Arrowhead.
And I have never, ever, ever been sorry I was there. Even when the team was so bad I was just hoping I'd see even ONE touchdown. Even when the team underperformed to a horrific level. Even when it was really cold. And even when I had to watch the rug of victory get yanked right out from underneath the Chiefs. I always had fun, and I always loved watching the Chiefs play live.
I love football, and I had a fantastic time on this road trip. Here's hoping the Chiefs bounce back from a tough loss, but I'm glad I was there to see it.