Chiefs Tame Bengals

Dilip Vishwanat - Getty

It wasn't a perfect game, and certainly not textbook, but it was a good day for the Kansas City Chiefs as they rode Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez and the brilliance of defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham to a 27-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Going into this game, I admit that I was nervous and scared. It was just a gut feeling. The fact that the Bengals were coming off a bye week, and had been outwardly challenged by Marvin Lewis was a concern.

Two weeks ago the New England Patriots blew out Lewis' team in Cincinnati, 34-13, but with a bye week the Bengals had enough offense to scare any defense playing anywhere.

But Sunday afternoon in Kansas City, the Bengals ran into a first-half buzz saw named Jared Allen, who continues his climb toward a massive payday and his first Pro-Bowl trip to Hawaii. In the first half he had 2.5 sacks, and his high-octane energy set the tone early, allowing the Chiefs' offense to get into a rhythm and put up 20 points.

Though the offensive outburst was great – especially the 10 first-quarter points – to me the star of the game was Cunningham. He realized the Jaguars exposed a huge flaw in his defense a week ago - cornerback Ty Law.

As some pointed out last week, Law was playing so far off the Jacksonville receivers that he was unable to close in time to make plays. Against Cincinnati that didn't happen, and in this game Cunningham fixed the chink in his defensive armor.

Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh were held in check by Law and Patrick Surtain until the game was out of reach in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs tried something they hadn't done all year – Surtain followed Johnson for the majority of the game. Both of KC's corners played bump-and-run coverage in most passing situations.

That's the way you're supposed to play the Cover 2. Law had his best game this season and Surtain grabbed his first interception of the season. Cunningham felt that aggressive style was the best way to defend the Bengals – especially if they used their no huddle offense.

Meanwhile, quarterback Damon Huard had his best game of the season. He found Gonzalez twice and threw the ball with more accuracy than he had at any time this season.

Huard's sore calf, which has plagued him since the start of training camp, appears to be much healthier at the moment. Sunday he was able to push off and step up in the pocket to deliver strikes.

This was a solid win for the Chiefs. They had their moments where you couldn't help but second guess them - especially in the second half when they didn't get enough first downs to seal the win - but those things will come in time, hopefully.

For now, Kansas City is in first place in the AFC West. They've won three of their last four games and next Sunday they'll go to Oakland knowing that with their fourth victory in five games, the bye week will be sweeter at the top of the division.

Five to Remember:

1. RB Larry Johnson - Head coach Herm Edwards has his hands full with Johnson. While he had his best game of the season in many ways Sunday, his fumble at the goal line was a killer. Johnson didn't secure the ball - he was holding it like a loaf of bread. His blocking was bad again, and his whiff on Bengals' cornerback Blue Adams nearly resulted in the decapitation of Damon Huard. Then there were his fourth-quarter antics, as LJ threw the ball to the ground resulting in a costly penalty. Johnson isn't gaining any respect from his teammates, and for the second straight week he left the field when the clock expired. Johnson needs to become a leader, because if he doesn't it won't matter how many touchdowns he scores. Some of the players might have already turned sour on him like the fans.

2. WR Jeff Webb - Finally, another wide receiver has emerged. Webb beat out Chris Hannon in training camp for the last receiver job and he's starting to climb up the depth chart. He made one solid catch after another Sunday and even though his fumble led to a Bengals field goal, he was dancing along the sidelines catching out patterns that would have made Mikhail Baryshnikov proud. With Eddie Kennison out until the Chiefs return from their bye week, Webb is getting an opportunity. With Dwayne Bowe held in check against the Bengals, it was good to see another receiver develop. That's all good news for tight end Tony Gonzalez.

3. CB Benny Sapp - Some adults need timeouts from their head coaches. Sapp lost control in the first half when he and TJ Houshmandzadeh went toe-to-toe in the middle of the field. Sapp was grounded by Herm Edwards after receiving a 15-yard penalty, but his antics didn't stop and he had to be removed from the field by linebacker Donnie Edwards. Sapp had to be restrained by his own teammates because he kept jawing with Edwards, and then in the same sequence took on guard Brian Waters. I have my doubts about Sapp, and he won't get any brownie points from me today. He better control himself or his head coach might just extend that timeout for more than a half. Those antics won't be tolerated on this team.

4. FB Boomer Grigbsy - It wasn't a fabulous debut, but in his limited chances he delivered a few blows and showed an ability to get into the hole and pancake defenders. I was hoping to see more reps for Grigsby, but the coaching staff still has some work to do. He missed one block that led to a sack, but with more experience he still can be a valuable thumper as the lead blocker. Kris Wilson made a solid block on Johnson's touchdown run, but he whiffed so many times I'm a bit shocked Boomer didn't see more action.

5. HC Herm Edwards - Another solid job on Sunday as he kept his team from extending the meltdown that began last week. He continues to make adjustments and the fact his team came out on all cylinders in the first half is a testament that he continues to get the message across to his players – both young and old. His patience with Huard might have saved the season right now. It paid off on Sunday as Huard played his best game since last year in St. Louis. Edwards continues to rebuild this team using a viable mix of veterans and youngsters. Anyone who doubts that he's the man for the job needs to root for another team.

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