Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012 felt eerily similar to Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011 — at least it did if you were watching the Kansas City Chiefs play. Last year on opening day, they were abused by the Buffalo Bills physically, mentally, emotionally and any other way that ends in -ally including . . . lets not go there. A few days ago, the Falcons made them relive that nightmare in the second half, en route to a 40-24 shellacking at Arrowhead Stadium, but it wasn’t even that close.
Going into halftime, the Chiefs and the Falcons went tit for tat. The Falcons getting on the scoreboard first with an easy TD drive followed by a KC field goal. Next, the Falcons went right back down the field with a field goal to take the lead, and KC answered back with a TD of their own, a gorgeous strike from Cassel to Boss to tie the game at 10. Atlanta scored 10 more points before the half and KC added another TD, this time a five yard scamper by Matt Cassel and the score was 20-17 at the half.
I was feeling pretty good at this point, and I had been high-fiving my other Chiefs buddy, even though he was wearing a worn out and faded jersey (I was rocking a brand new Nike Eric Berry jersey) and his face was painted in red and yellow (he looked ridiculous). I did have that gnawing doubt in the back of my mind however, that if we couldn’t stop the Falcons from scoring at least once, or if we failed to score when they did, we were going to lose control of the game. At this point, neither team had punted or turned the ball over, and I had a feeling that it couldn’t continue this way (much like the Colts and Chiefs playoff game from 2003, another nightmare that still refuses to fade away).
Lo and behold, as the third quarter opened and the Chiefs drove right back down the field, we were stopped on third down and forced to attempt a field goal. This would have tied the game, but alas, it was not to be, and Ryan Succop’s kick was pushed to the right by an unholy gust of wind. As soon as the refs waved it off, I turned to my friend and said “That’s the game right there. It’s over.” Now some of you might cast me as a Negative Nancy, or accuse me of being overly dramatic, tell me to “think positive,” etc. But I’ve seen enough games over the last five years to know how this was going to play out. Up until 2007, I had always believed that we could come back from a deficit, that the game wasn’t over until it was over. But since that awful 2007 season where we started out 4-3 and proceeded to lose the final nine games (kick started by Brett Favre’s first win against KC in his last year as a Packer) I began to expect the worst and hope for the best instead of expecting the best and not worrying about the worst.
That missed field goal kicked off a series of events that went like this: On our next drive, Cassel was intercepted due to a tipped ball by our TE Tony Moeaki (who was possibly interfered with but no flag was thrown). On our next series, Cassel was sacked and fumbled the ball deep on our end of the field, and followed that with a horrible interception as he attempted to throw across his body right to left. At this point, Atlanta had scored two touchdowns and kicked two more field goals, Tony Gonzalez caught one of them and dunked it on the goal post (successfully, unlike Vernon Davis) as he had so many times before as a Chief, and the score was 40-17. The Chiefs did manage one garbage time TD as Shaun Draughn crossed the goal line in the final minutes to make the score slightly more respectful . . .but still, a blowout is a blowout is a blowout. And I officially felt like Bill Murray.
I’ve had a few days to steam over the loss, and now that I’ve cooled down, I’m finally able to put my thoughts down on this digital paper. The reality is (at least in the mind of a die hard Chiefs fan) that we were without four defensive starters, including the two most important ones, our pass rush expert Tamba Hali and our shutdown corner Brandon Flowers. Throw in the free safety and nose tackle, and you have a recipe for disaster against Matt Ryan and his deadly arsenal of receivers. On a positive note the Falcons were held to only 59 yards rushing on 20 attempts, but they didn’t even really need to run the ball because Julio Jones could not be stopped. The Chiefs offense also looked great in that first half, as Jamaal Charles looked like his old self and Cassel was pinpoint accurate, completing 10 of 12 passes. On another positive note, Matt Ryan was a fantasy monster and netted me 31 points in our No Coast Bias fantasy league, which was pivotal in my week 1 win over my opponent, Steeler Virginity.
Next up for the Chiefs is a trip to Canada-er, Buffalo, to face the team that destroyed our season last year before it ever got started. Hali will be back and hopefully so will Flowers, and Eric Berry will be eager to raise hell after suffering that ACL injury at the hands (or should I say cheap cut block) of Stevie Johnson. Kansas City should be very hungry to avenge last years butt-whipping, and Lord knows I’ll be watching, wearing one of my shiny, authentic away jersey’s, expecting the worst, but hoping for the best.
By the way, here’s the block Johnson put on Berry that ended Berry’s season last year. It’s a little tough to see but watch Johnson (#13) lined up on the right lay the hit on the top of the screen. Was it cheap or not? You be the judge.