Photo: Chris Hanewinckel - USA Today Sports
When the Kansas City lined up Sunday afternoon to face the Chargers on their home turf with the majority of their starters on the bench, even the most hardcore Chiefs fans had to feel the visitors would fall flat in San Diego. But much to their surprise a football game broke out and the boys in red almost won the game.
With their playoff lot set, the Kansas City Chiefs rested most of their starters on Sunday and gave some well deserving back-ups their day in the sun against the San Diego Chargers in the season finale for both teams.
,BR>Despite the fact the Chiefs began this game with 20 players starting their first NFL game, the Chiefs were either tied or led for roughly four and a half quarters in San Diego. But needing a field goal to extend overtime, their last drive fell short and the regular season ended much like it’s gone for this team the last seven weeks of the season – the Chiefs lost.
As the post season begins next weekend, the Chiefs travel to Indianapolis for a rematch with the Colts and are hoping to avoid another first round playoff loss in the AFC wild card round. Down the stretch Kansas City lost five of seven games including two each at the hands of the Denver Broncos and Chargers, the other of course last weekend against the Colts by the score of 23-7.
Against San Diego on Sunday they played one of their better games of the season and would have won the game in regulation had Chiefs Kicker, Ryan Succop not whiffed on a game winning 41-yard field goal attempt in the waning seconds of the game.
If there was a downer in this game, Kansas City has to hope with all the positives they uncovered in this football game, their kicker doesn’t enter the playoff round with a case of the misses.
Chiefs Head Coach, Andy Reid, probably would have fallen under a lot of scrutiny for resting his starters had this game been a blowout. But let’s be honest Kansas City outplayed the Chargers for most of Sunday’s AFC West finale. Despite the loss the fact Reid didn’t play his starters, he nearly pulled off the upset by nearly executing a perfect game plan in defeating the desperate the Chargers. It was something that should solidify NFL Coach of the Year honors.
That aside, the positives out weigh the gut wrenching loss in San Diego. The Chiefs learned they have some solid depth at virtually every position on the field. Back-up Quarterback, Chase Daniel, (someone who I felt wasn’t a good choice to even start the game or be Alex Smith’s back-up next season), completed 21 of 30 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown pass.
Rookie Running Back, Knile Davis, carried the load on the ground and scored a pair of rushing touchdowns. Chiefs Receivers Dexter McCluster, Junior Hemingway and A.J. Jenkins played as well as the starters they replaced Sunday against the Chargers defensive secondary.
On defense the emergence of back-up nose tackle Jerrell Powe, defensive end Allen Bailey, safety Hussain Abdullah, cornerbacks Ron Parker and Marcus Cooper, should give the Chiefs some new options in their upcoming rematch with the Colts.
In fact, if I were defensive coordinator, Bob Sutton, I’d start Abdullah at safety and return Cooper to starting cornerback against the pass happy Colts offense.
There is no doubt that Abdullah is a far better safety then Kendrick Lewis, who player another horrific game. With Cooper regaining some of the touch that made him a potential rookie of the year candidate, the Chiefs could move cornerback, Brandon Flowers, back to the slot position. In doing just that, they’d still have veterans Parker and Dunta Robinson to use in obvious passing situations.
Either way what Reid and General Manager, John Dorsey uncovered on Sunday was a roster that suddenly offers numerous options heading into the playoffs and further down the road into the 2014 season.
Considering the Chargers pulled out all the stops with their starters and narrowly defeated the Chiefs back-ups in overtime to thwart off the Pittsburgh Steelers bid for the sixth and final playoff spot, tells me KC’s depth has some game.
Despite the loss the Chiefs will enter the post season with all their walking wounded rested and healthy. The same won’t be said for the Colts who had three defensive players, Vontae Davis, Aubrayo Franklin and Bjoern Warner, leave the game and did not return in their season finale against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
So as we wrap up the 2013 season and get ready for the playoffs, the Chiefs didn’t exactly play their best football the last two months of the season. But the way the back-ups played on Sunday against the Chargers should fuel the starters to play their best football of the season in the month of January.
Because no matter your view of the Chiefs final 11-5 record, or the fact they lost five games after going 9-0 to start the year, they had a marvelous regular season.
So if you put into perspective the misery of 2012, the growth this franchise made under Dorsey and Reid in less than a year on the job, anything that happens in January (or if they’re lucky enough in February), can’t be viewed in any other light than the Chiefs are still playing with house money entering the post season.
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