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The Walking Chiefs

It was the best of games, it was the worst of games.

Do I hate myself a little bit right now for using such an obvious intro? Kinda. But seriously, sometimes you write the lede, sometimes the lede writes itself. I’m too lazy to even look up how many people used that as their opening line regarding this game. It’s too perfect. Sometimes, a cliche is the right call. They’re cliches for a reason, right?

Anyway, I must have started and stopped about 15 different articles prior to writing the words that are currently spewing forth from my brain. There are just too many things to write about from one game: The concerns about the pass rush, how good Spencer Ware is, whether Marcus Peters is quite as good as we thought, Alex Smith’s split personality of a game, Travis Kelce being a beast, Dee Ford coming through in the clutch again (seriously), whether Eric Berry looks rusty, how bad Andy Reid’s playcalling is when he outsmarts his common sense, how vital Jeremy Maclin is to this team... that’s just rattling off the top of my head.

There were some very good things and some very potentially bad things to walk away from today’s game with. However, the more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t take my mind off words I wrote in my last mailbag. Remember this? You might not, since it was before the greatest comeback in the history of the universe and stuff.

... last year taught me that the first game of the season isn’t do-or-die. Neither is the second game, or the third, or the fifth... The Chiefs were 1-5, folks, playing like crap and written off for dead. They then rolled off 10 straight wins, won a playoff game, and gave the Pats a fight at New England without three of their best players. That taught me a lesson I should have learned a long time ago: it’s a longer season than we think, and Week 1 doesn’t mean anything more than, say, Week 11. We just emphasize it’s importance because it’s the first game.

So win or lose, I’m going to do my best to not overreact. Remember 2015. One never knows what the season will bring.

Remember, folks, what happens in Week 1 (at least with regards to Xs and Os) doesn’t always have a whole lot to do with what happens in Week 17. Or even Week 10, or Week 6. That’s the nature of the NFL. Teams change a great deal as the year goes along and as they identify strengths (like Spencer Ware) and weaknesses (like Parker Ehinger) and adapt accordingly.

That said, there’s one thing you can absolutely, positively take out of this game that has nothing to do with Xs and Os. Something we learned last year about this team but we watched play out over the course of 3.5 hours Sunday.

This Chiefs team is very, very mentally tough, and will absolutely not stop coming for you until the game (or the season) is over.

In that way, they’re a lot like a play when Spencer Ware has the ball: you’d better make sure you finish the job, or you’ll pay.

I’m not a “this game is over” kind of guy. And let me tell you, I thought this game was OVER. I was 99 percent convinced at halftime, and when the Jeremy Maclin had the ball ripped out of his grasp for a pick with less than 13 minutes left in the game, I went all the way up to 110 percent. Yep, I was so sure I was defying math.

Of course, Maclin himself (along with Alex Smith, who played both his best and worst two quarters Sunday, just to make sure everyone has ammo in the Alex Wars. He’s good like that) had other ideas.

I’m not even going to begin to talk about that play itself (there will be time for that later), but that was the first glimmer of what was to come. And it wasn’t just the play itself, as great as it was. It was that entire drive. After the defense managed to hold San Diego at bay for a missed field goal, the offense needed QUICK points. And let’s face it, the Chiefs offense isn’t exactly known for marching down the field and scoring.

But again, this is a team that just doesn’t stop. Barely two minutes later, there’s Maclin falling into the end zone for a touchdown. You could feel something shift.

After the Chargers were forced to punt, the Chiefs were able to get a field goal out of an extended drive that really deserves more mention than I’m giving it here. The feeling I had when that drive ended in three instead of six points was, “man, too little too late.”

Then the defense stonewalled the Chargers for a three-and-out (you could FEEL the Chargers getting more and more tense as time went along). Again, we need the Chiefs to march down the field (though not too far thanks to a horrific punt), this time in that dreaded two minute drill time of the game, where they had failed us time and again.

Of course, they didn’t fail. They scored quickly, and on the ensuing drive the embattled Dee Ford earned a week of respite from me and everyone on earth.

I have reservations about Dee Ford, and I think many Chiefs fans do. But there’s no denying that he made one of the most clutch plays of the day by getting to Rivers and ruining their attempted game-winning drive before it could get started. Rivers is crazy dangerous at the end of games, and Ford made sure he never got going. That was huge.

But my point isn’t to re-live the moments that helped swing the game in the Chiefs favor (though that’s pretty fun, too). My point is that we saw on the field that there’s really no scenario in which you can count out this particular iteration of Andy Reid’s Chiefs. They’ve been down and out. They’ve been 1-5. They’ve been down three touchdowns (THREE TOUCHDOWNS) in the fourth quarter. They just don’t care.

People are going to want to call the Chiefs the Cardiac Chiefs or the Comeback Chiefs or something like that. Not me, though. Nope, these Chiefs remind me of something else entirely.

You know, almost every mailbag I get questions about The Walking Dead. Ever stop and think about why people love zombie stories? One reason, as far as I can tell, is how quietly terrifying zombies are. You can shoot them, stab them, crush them, blow them up, fired a thousand rounds into their chest, set them on fire, force them to watch a Peyton Manning commercial, whatever... no matter what you do, they don’t stop coming. They don’t stop and then they don’t stop and then they still don’t stop and then they STILL don’t stop and all of a sudden you’re buried beneath a horde of grasping, chomping terrors.

You can march up and down the field on these Chiefs, and it doesn’t matter. You can build up a big lead, and it doesn’t matter. You can take cheap shots at their most important offensive player (seriously, Addae doesn’t belong in the league), and it doesn’t matter. You can run the ball and pass the ball at will all day, you can have a three touchdown lead in the fourth quarter, you can have a 17 point lead with 11 minutes left in the game ... it doesn’t matter.

We’ll see about the Xs and Os as the season goes along. But for right now? One thing we know for certain is that the Zombie Chiefs will never stop. And for the moment, that’s enough for me.