Chiefs Lament Missed Opportunities

It was all laid out for the Kansas City Chiefs late Sunday afternoon. Carson Palmer looked much like the quarterback he was in Week 6, when the Chiefs picked him off three times during a record-setting day. Even KC's slim five percent shot at the playoffs was looking more and more like a legitimate possibility but in the end, the Chiefs dropped the ball a few too many times.

This game was typical of what we have seen from both these teams in the past. Mental errors, tempers, and a myriad of penalties turned this game from a football contest into more of a rugby scrum. It was ugly.

Although this was not one of the Chiefs' best performances, it was easily a game they could have won.

The Chiefs had two different opportunities to put points on the board at the end of each half (one that would have sealed a Kansas City victory) and failed to make the most of their many opportunities.

But the end-of-the-half blunders were a microcosm of the game as a whole.

In back to back weeks the Chiefs again struggled in the red zone. Due to turnovers and penalties, the team shot themselves in the foot and you could see and hear the disappointment in the locker room after the game.

"It sucks," said Chiefs fullback Le'Ron McClain. "I just heard the score. That just makes it even worse".

The score McClain is referring to is the one from Buffalo, where the Bills took care of their end of the bargain when they worked over the Denver Broncos, 40-14.

Considering the importance of the east coast game, it comes as a slight surprise that none of the Chiefs knew their Christmas wishes were being granted in Buffalo until 20 minutes after most had showered and were on their way home.

Head coach Romeo Crennel was direct in his reasoning as to why he refused to let his team know about the game in Buffalo.

"It doesn't make any difference what goes on in Buffalo," he said. "I told (the team) that last night. The thing that makes the difference is what we do. We can't control what Buffalo does, we can't control what Denver is doing. The only thing that we can control is what we do. That was the message."

But judging by the mood after the game, and how the players responded to the news from Buffalo, it's hard to believe this team would not have been more motivated by the possibility of a real playoff opportunity.

But that's what this season has been about for Kansas City. If the Chiefs beat the Bills to open the season at home, they're still in the mix this week. If Todd Haley had been fired when the writing was on the wall after the winless Miami Dolphins embarrassed Kansas City in Week 9, perhaps this season doesn't come down to Sunday's loss.

The Raiders committed 15 penalties Sunday but the Chiefs balanced the good fortune out by committing 11 of their own. When the Chiefs were driving the ball, turnovers and penalties stalled their progress and kept Oakland's spoiler hopes alive.

It wasn't just the missed opportunities that disappointed Crennel. He knew his team had to do more regardless of the opportunities presented.

"It hurts that we didn't play well enough to win," he said. "That's what hurts."



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