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Cheifs Chatter

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It's difficult to win on the road in the NFL

This was a particularly ugly loss, as players and coaches looked uninterested

Posted 11/17/03

In the Bengals locker room last weekend after their win over Houston, head coach Marvin Lewis settled his team down then started to motivate his team.

He told them, “we can shock the world next week by beating the 9-0 Chiefs.” This game meant everything to the Bengals, and though it should have meant at least something to the Chiefs, they looked like a team satisfied to sleepwalk through the first half. The Bengals played with motivation while the Chiefs came out unprepared. This looked dangerously like the 2002 Kansas City Chiefs in many of their losses last season. They appeared unprepared and unmotivated through most of the game and forced to attempt a desperate 4th quarter comeback.

Like many of them—this one fell short.

The Chiefs were outcoached, outplayed and unprepared against the Cincinnati Bengals and that made this result predictable. The Chiefs were going to lose a game or two along the way, but this was a particularly ugly loss as the team and the coaches looked uninterested early in the game. The offense was abysmal in the first half—leaving the defense on the field for far too long. The coaching staff mismanaged the clock and the play calling. They even slept through an obvious drop by Bengals WR Chad Johnson that would have been overturned by a replay. It was third down play that would have forced the Bengals to punt—but the coaching staff failed to challenge the call, and the Bengals would kick a FG on that drive to take a 3-0 lead.

But this is what happens in a 16-game NFL season. It’s difficult to win on the road, and sooner or later this was going to happen. Field position was squandered early and the defense was worn out late. It’s only one loss. And the team’s lousy play and the poor coaching dictated the outcome.

****

—Dante Hall came to play early—setting the Chiefs up with great field position with his returns, but the offense was flat and punted on the first five possessions.

—The Chiefs coaching staff missed an instant replay opportunity in the middle of the second quarter, when WR Chad Johnson dropped a catch that resulted in a first down on third and five.

—Replays showed the ball hit the ground, but the coaching staff missed it and didn’t challenge. The Bengals would have been forced to punt.

—But instead the next play was a 38-yard running play around left end by Rudi Johnson that led to a FG, giving the Bengals a 3-0 lead.

—Al Saunders poor early play calling finally came back to hurt the Chiefs.

—The coaching staff was so out of it they allowed Morten Anderson to attempt a 44-yard FG, when his 39-yard FG earlier in the game barely crossed the bar.

—The Chiefs played poorly, the coaches were asleep at the switch and this team looked lackluster for 3 quarters. Keep in mind—with all that, they lost by only 5 points to a red-hot home team.

—Last season in week 11 the Chiefs were 5-5. They have a four game improvement for this season with their NFL leading 9-1 record. But it’s all for naught if they don’t finish strong.

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This game ends the 16-0 talk. There are no good losses but that’s likely a good thing. The business at hand for the Chiefs now is to bounce back—get back on track and begin to attempt to secure home field advantage for the playoffs.

They have only a one game edge over the Colts, Patriots and the Titans. This game proved how difficult it is to win on the road in the NFL. It’s now officially Raider week, and as weak as the Raiders have been lately, this loss should sharpen the focus of the coaches and players.

The Chiefs have had an unforgettable start and a nice run, but now the team gets the real test. Can they finish strong?

(CK Rairden, formerly of Platte County, writes from his home in Arizona. He can be reached via email at ckden@yahoo.com)