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Saved by Zeros
Posted By ChiefsWarpath.com On November 10, 2008 @ 12:42 pm In Commentary | Comments Disabled
It’s a tough call these days as to which aspect of watching a Chiefs game is more annoying: watching the Chiefs flush opportunity after opportunity down the toilet, or listening to that god-awful Toyota commercial ad nauseum. One is a disheartening imitation of something many of us used to find enjoyable; the other is a cover of a Fixx song. One makes consumers not want to buy the product being sold; the other led me to buy a Honda. One is made by players who understand the mechanics but lack the special quality to produce something great; the other was recorded by studio musicians.
Today the San Diego Chargers were saved by zeros.
San Diego is one of the best-built teams in the National Football League. All but two of their starters on offense (WR Chris Chambers and RG Mike Goff being the exceptions) have never played for another team. All eleven of their starters are in-house products. Only six of their bench players (five on offense, one on defense) have played elsewhere. Not even their kicker, punter, and long snapper have seen action elsewhere. Now there is no intrinsic value in staying out of the free agent market altogether. San Francisco has shown us that for several years now. But San Diego is a winner–in the past four years they are 46-18 during the regular season with three playoff berths. They play hard in all three phases of the game, and one would be hard pressed to name a single starter on that team who wouldn’t be a starter on nearly any other team.
So why was Kansas City competitive today? Because they’re good. It’s one of the best kept secrets in the NFL right now. At a paltry 1-8, the Chiefs are the second best team in their division (not by record, but by talent). Tony Gonzalez, Dwyane Bowe, and Mark Bradley are quickly developing into one of the league’s better triple threats. In the past three weeks QB Tyler Thigpen has a cumulative passer rating of 104.6. Much to everyone’s surprise, Chiefs defenders are beginning to do things like intercept the ball (6 in the last three games), defend passes (11), force fumbles (4), and even penetrate the backfield (4 sacks, 9 QB hits, and 10 tackles for loss). The days of giving up 300 yards on the ground are over–135, 81, and 92 in the past three weeks, and no rushing touchdowns in the past two. These are the benchmarks of good teams.
That begs another question: why do they keep losing? Because they’re bad. Bad at maintaining the same intensity in the second half. Bad at maintaining the same creativity in playcalling once they gain a passable lead. More than anything though, they’re just bad at staying healthy. Our medical staff is soon to be replaced by Red Cross volunteers and our strength and conditioning staff by FEMA. Why? Because those outfits know how to operate a stretcher.
So goes the story today. Six injuries in four quarters on an already depleted team. These aren’t freak injuries anymore either. There are no more dislocated elbows or separated shoulders or broken noses and jaws. No bone fractures. No ACL or MCL tears. No concussions. Only pulled hamstrings, ankle sprains, bruised thighs, and charliehorses. The result? Rocky Boiman and Maurice Leggett making their first starts of the season. 310-pound Alfonso Boone making his first ever start at right defensive end. Jon McGraw making eight tackles. Ricardo Colclough and David Macklin making the roster. They played with heart, but they also played like they had no idea where the hell they were supposed to be or what they were supposed to be doing.
Today Philip Rivers proved that, against the right defense, a bad day can still be a good day. Today Maurice Leggett proved that effort is not enough. Today the defensive line proved that they could hold up their end of the bargain, but that their end of the bargain is only half of the deal.
Today Kansas City proved that a quarterback can be saved by zeros.
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