With yet another fourth quarter disintegration this past Sunday against AFC West rival San Diego, the Chiefs dropped even deeper into the abyss of a dreadful season. And with all of the eggs being laid at Arrowhead this season, it’s beginning to seem as if Easter is on the horizon and not Christmas!
Having the lead in five games in the fourth quarter and not winning any of them is puzzling and begs the question, “where’s the heart?” With well over two minutes remaining in the Charger game on Sunday, Trent Green and the high-powered offense of the Chiefs needed just a field goal to tie the game, but instead came up empty and fell victim to yet another team with inferior talent.
This of course is the unnerving trend of the 2004 Kansas City Chiefs campaign. With the exception of possibly this past game against San Diego, when the Monday morning quarterbacks read the stat sheets from the past Sundays game, they would undoubtedly believe the Chiefs would have been victorious based upon the yardage gained, points scored, etc., however, a loss is the ultimate result. Why is this? A synopsis would tell the loyal fan that it’s obviously because of more penalties, inadequate special teams, and the late killer turnovers in the fourth quarter. These of course, are all ingredients in the soup, however in my opinion, there’s a much bigger explanation.
After the loss to Carolina on the second weekend of the season, a certain sense of shock and dismay seemed to settle into the hearts and minds of everyone involved with the Chiefs organization, including the fans. The expectations for the season were so high for the Chiefs that an early loss at Arrowhead was just to hard to believe. The loss to Denver on the opening week of the season was almost to be expected, considering the Chiefs difficulty in Denver in past years, and the training camp struggles leading up to the season opener. But with that game out of the way, and going home for two straight games, the Chiefs I’m sure felt things would be just fine.
But when Deshaun Foster ran roughshod over the Chiefs defense, the moment of truth came unexpectedly soon. So despite having many opportunities to win the game against the Panthers, the Chiefs simply couldn’t find the heart.
So was it really any surprise when the Houston Texans came in the following week and shocked the Chiefs? The sadness and lowered expectations were present at Arrowhead even before the kickoff of that pivotal game. So with professional football and anything else in life, when a person believes that bad things are going to inevitably occur, most of the time those negative things do end up occurring. A perfect example of the opposite end of this spectrum is the New England Patriots. Does anyone really believe that they are that much more physically talented than their opponents? The consensus is, that they are not. But when they take the field, they are 100% percent certain that they are going to win. And of course, most of the time they do.
A perfect example of the Chiefs “losers limp” that they are now experiencing, is the final few minutes of last Sunday’s game. Despite the fact that the game was well within reach of victory, the Chiefs players, and it appeared even the coaches, were resigned to a destination of failure. With this mindset, it shouldn’t have been a shock to see Trent Green throw that ball into the arms of Donnie Edwards that sealed the defeat.
My concern is that sometimes these trends can last for years. The Chiefs teams of the late seventies and throughout most of the eighties definitely had this “losers limp’. And just as it can keep a team like the Patriots playing over their heads for years on the positive side, the negative side can become generational if it’s not nipped in the bud as soon as possible.
The Chiefs must now take baby steps to get their confidence back to where it belongs. A win over the Raiders this Sunday would be a good start. Whatever works for each player and coach must be implemented right away to avoid this swirling negative black hole.
The decision by Dick Vermeil to return again for the 2005 season was a good start. This shows the players that he is not jumping ship and will work hard to do what is necessary to prove this season has been an aberration.
The ball will eventually bounce the Chiefs way again. However, the Chiefs players, coaches, and front office personnel must assume that they will win games on Sunday, and believe in themselves and the organization. With this new and critical positive attitude, the Chiefs will be able to look back upon this season when it is over and realize that it truly was just a bump in the road.