Rewind: Arizona Take Five

Posted Nov 22, 2010

The Chiefs achieved a Take Five sweep in victory over Arizona

The Chiefs took care of Arizona 31-13 on Sunday and turned in a complete sweep in our pre-game “Take Five.” Let’s take a look…

After two straight division games the Chiefs move outside of the AFC West this weekend. Even though the Arizona Cardinals represent an inter-conference foe, the stakes that surround Sunday’s contest remain nearly just as high.

Sunday is a big day for Kansas City’s 2010 playoff hopes and there’s a lot of familiarity involved on each sideline. There’s no time to waste. This is the time and place to get back on track.

Let’s “Take Five” for Sunday…

1.    Feed The Animal

The Chiefs are a perfect 4-0 at home, while Arizona is 1-4 on the road this season. If there’s any place to get the season back on track, it’s Arrowhead.

Arrowhead’s x-factor has returned this season and the Chiefs need to involve their 12th man from the opening kickoff. The Kansas City faithful will be ready from the get-go. It’s up to the players to feed off of that early energy.

The Chiefs were able to extend their home record to a perfect 5-0 behind a great home crowd on Sunday. While the announced attendance of 66,247 didn’t completely fill the house, those inside Arrowhead still made it plenty loud. Todd Haley and several players made sure to note the crowd’s impact after the game was over.

“When they’re screaming loud, the offense can’t really hear the calls and get the checks,” WR Dwayne Bowe said. “Some guys might mess up in that situation and that could be a play that costs them the game. So a special shout-out to the fans as they do a good job with that.”

2.    Who’s Hungrier?

Combined, these two teams are losers of six straight games. It’s not often that losses can pile up they way they have, with both teams still being a part of their respective division races. Living in the AFC and NFC West divisions has proven to yield some uncharacteristic situations.

Both teams were lit up by division rivals last weekend, but are still very much a part of their respective division races. Arizona is in last place, but only two games behind the first place Seahawks. The Chiefs, on the other hand, have fallen “behind” Oakland after leading the AFC West standings all season long.

For each of these teams, this might as well be a division game. Sunday represents an elimination game for Arizona and a turning point for Kansas City.

The Chiefs are back in the driver’s seat of the AFC West, while the Cardinals already slim playoff hopes were put to rest following Sunday’s game. After two weeks of uncharacteristic football, the Chiefs were in search of re-finding the core that had brought them success throughout the first half of the season. A back-to-basics mentality would pay off as Kansas City returned to its bread and butter at Arrowhead.

The Chiefs were efficient in all three phases of Sunday’s game. The defense didn’t allow Arizona into the end zone until the game’s final play and the offense put together an impressive balanced attack. There were also no turnovers committed, just 23 yards taken away via penalty and the offensive line pitched a shutout with Cassel seeing little to no pressure.

Desperately in need of a win that defined “Chiefs Football,” Kansas City found the right answer.

3.    The Offensive Line

Kansas City’s offensive line has been a strong point for most of 2010. The Chiefs rank as the league’s top rushing offense and have been among the NFL’s least-sacked units throughout 2010. Whenever those two things happen, there’s no question that the offensive line is playing at a high level.

Running the football effectively and protecting the quarterback will obviously be key factors in defeating Arizona this weekend. What’s questionable (literally) is who will be doing the protecting.

With Brian Waters (groin) and Ryan Lilja (foot) both questionable because of injury, the Chiefs may rely on rookie Jon Asamoah, and even another reserve player, to play significant snaps on Sunday. How Kansas City’s offensive line situation shakes out and /or produces this weekend is something to keep an eye on.

Both Waters and Lilja were able to play, giving Kansas City it’s regular starters along the offensive line. While there were probably plenty of mistakes for the coaching staff to dissect in the film room, the performance of the offensive line looked nearly flawless to the naked eye.

The numbers speak for themselves: 5.5 yards per carry, 31 points and no quarterback sacks. The Chiefs effectively ran the football and protected the quarterback. Thus, they won the football game in deciding fashion.

There was an injury note, however. Left tackle Branden Albert left the game in the second half with a hip injury and would not return. His status for the week is undetermined, but Barry Richardson did a nice job moving over from right tackle to fill the void created by Albert’s injury. Ryan O’Callaghan was also effective as a reserve at right tackle after Richardson had to make the switch to the left side.

4.    By The Numbers

Exactly what do the Arizona Cardinals hang their hats on? WR Larry Fitzgerald is one of the NFL’s most exciting players and the Cards defense has a proven history of turning in explosive plays, but what defines the 2010 Arizona Cardinals?

When reviewing league offensive and defensive rankings, Arizona is struggling mightily across the board. The Cardinals rank near the bottom of most every major statistical category, and they’ve been a mistake prone team over their four-game losing streak as well.

Last week, the Chiefs were defeated across the board against a team that was struggling in a number of different fronts. Will Kansas City be able to answer the call on Sunday.

Aside from a few runs by Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells around left edge, the Chiefs were able to keep Arizona’s primary playmakers in check throughout the day. The Cardinals had a total of four plays go for more than 20 yards, which is probably more than the Chiefs would have liked to allow, but the defense was able to come up with key stops following those big plays.

All-Pro WR Larry Fitzgerald’s finished with a very quiet 90 yards receiving and Derrick Anderson’s passing numbers wouldn’t have been nearly as impressive if it weren’t for Arizona’s final drive of the game.

The Chiefs were winners in ever facet of the game, which is exactly what should have happened when comparing the two teams before kickoff. Even the hidden yardage totals favored Kansas City with the Chiefs winning battles in both penalty yardage and punt coverage. 

5.    Chiefs Football

Where has the Chiefs brand of football been hiding these past two weeks?

Penalty numbers are up, rushing totals are down and giveaways are coming into play far too often.  The Chiefs desperately need to put an end to this disturbing trend of play. “Chiefs Football” needs to return once again in front of the hometown crowd.

A mixture of factors helped the Chiefs become a 5-2 football team, but those same factors haven’t been present in recent weeks. Kansas City is now teetering on a dip back to the .500 mark. Its time to re-discover the traits that have seen Kansas City lead the division for the first half of 2010.

Sunday represented “Chiefs Football” across the board. There’s no doubt about it.

Banking another win to stay off the .500 barrier was a huge boost to Kansas City’s post-season aspirations. There’s still a long way to go in 2010 and the Chiefs will need to play their best football of the season after Thanksgiving, but Sunday’s result was exactly what the Chiefs needed.

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