File 13 is military slang for the trash can. It’s indigenous to the United States – the Brits use the more literal and less imaginative Circular File. Call it whatever you like. Regardless of your preferred nomenclature, you can damn well be sure that’s where I’ll file my tape of Sunday’s game. It was a garbage win.
It’s a shame too. Late in the first quarter, Leonard Pope ran a perfectly designed, perfectly executed shallow crossing route in the endzone for a touchdown. That was Pope’s first meaningful play of the year. I was hopeful it was indicative of an impending beatdown in the same vein of last year’s season finale. Instead, Pope’s first meaningful play of the year was Kansas City’s last meaningful play of the game.
I couldn’t tell you what the greatest ratio of rushing yards to points over the course of a single game is, but this one had to be in contention. In a game with 366 ground yards gained cumulatively by the two teams, split nearly evenly, more than 16 points should have been scored. I’d like to say that said low score was the consequence of a mighty defensive struggle between two tough division opponents. It had elements of a defensive struggle, but ultimately it wasn’t. It was a first place team playing down to the level of a last place team, doing barely enough to eke out a win largely predicated on a bad call. Of course, my position is that a team should play well enough to overcome a bad call or two, and Denver didn’t; ergo, they deserve to have lost.
Now that I’ve said that, let’s discuss those elements. First, the positive: Brandon Carr. I still don’t have a solid read on whether or not the guy should be viewed as a long term solution at his position, but I will say this: in a season where his counterpart, Brandon Flowers, is outplaying players like Darrelle Revis and Champ Bailey, Carr logged the best game of the season by a Kansas City defensive back. You might want to make note of this, because I’m not overly prone to saying nice things about Carr. Had he had this career day against Jabar Gaffney, I might not be so apt to make such a big deal of it, but he didn’t have it against Gaffney or Eddie Royal. He had it against Brandon Lloyd. Brandon Lloyd leads the league in receiving yards. That, my readers, deserves an Arbor Mist.
Now, the negative: Brandon Carr wasn’t the only cornerback deserving of a tasty adult beverage (actually it’s not that tasty – it tastes mostly like a mix of Kool Aid and box wine with a splash of Comet thrown in for good measure). Champ Bailey, purported to have lost a step this season, apparently got it in his head that it would be a good idea to shut down the league’s leader in receiving touchdowns. As a Chiefs fan, I don’t agree with this strategy, but, needless to say, it worked. Aside from a couple of downfield blocks, Dwayne Bowe was a virtual nonentity.
Then again, maybe those blocks are an indication of Bowe’s budding maturity. Not every Kansas City first round pick of the last decade understood what his role was when the ball wasn’t in his hands. Bowe is undoubtedly playing at least in part for his contract, but the fact that he was still involving himself in the game plan late in the second half, knowing well that his touchdown streak was probably over, shows me that he might be playing for his team too.
Aside from that, there wasn’t much noteworthy play to discuss. Jamaal Charles posted his cursory 100 yards. Thomas Jones put up his 50. The strong side of the defense gave up 7 yards per carry to a struggling second year tailback. Tamba Hali abused Ryan Clady. None of these things are surprising. The only thing surprising was the score. In a lifetime series dominated by high scoring contests, this was one of only four with a combined score under 20. This was the third near miss of the season for Kansas City, and all have come against bottom tier teams. The Chiefs need to consider themselves out of luck. Garbage wins happen to good teams in even the best of seasons (remember New England at Baltimore, 2007?), but single digit leads can’t be relied upon in the coming four weeks. The path to the playoffs must be paved with decisive wins.
Also, File 13 Chris Chambers.