The Morning After: Denver

Posted Jan 2, 2012

Chiefs show character in season-ending victory

DENVER, CO – Romeo Crennel doesn’t know if a New Year’s Day victory in Denver secured his bid to be the Chiefs head coach for the rest of 2012 and beyond, but his team sure made a compelling case Sunday afternoon.

Kansas City’s 7-3 win in Denver won’t put the Chiefs in the playoffs or mask an inconsistent season that resulted in an in-season coaching change, but it did show Crennel’s ability to generate a locker room response.

Just one week following an overtime loss to Oakland that crushed Kansas City’s hopes to repeat as AFC West champions, the Chiefs rallied to pass a litmus test of character.

“That group of young men over there in that locker room, they fought it out,” Crennel said. “When you don’t have anything to play for sometimes you don’t play as hard. But they played hard today and I appreciate that about them.”

This was a game that meant plenty to Denver and, besides pride, nothing to Kansas City.

Locker room respect and the ability to motivate ranked high on the list of reasons Crennel was chosen to lead the Chiefs for the final three games of the 2011 season.

Those theories were put to test Sunday and the Chiefs responded by dismantling Denver’s offense in front of the Broncos home crowd.

“This is what football is all about,” Chiefs Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Johnson said. “Even though you don’t have a chance to go to the playoffs, which is your goal at the beginning of the year, at some point you are a professional football player.

“When you go out on the field you are a professional, so you have to handle it like a professional. You get paid to play and we definitely earned our money today.”

Despite the disappointment of last week’s loss, the Chiefs came out with fire and passion. It was difficult to see which team was playing for the playoffs and which team was wrapping up its season.

There’s no doubt Crennel has an impact inside the Chiefs locker room.

Once again, the Chiefs post-game celebration could be heard clearly through closed doors. “We want RAC (Romeo Crennel’s nickname with players)” and “RAC City” chants echoed loudly throughout the hallway of Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium.

“We wanted to win for that guy so bad,” Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers said. “Having him as a defensive coordinator is one thing, but having the whole team feed off his spirit and energy is definitely a positive. I hope this guy can stay around. The upper management has some decisions to make.”

“It’s as simple as it is; that’s what we want,” added safety Kendrick Lewis. “We hope that we can get him and we hope that it turns out that way. That’s what we feel and that’s what we want.”

The next chapter of 2012 focuses on the Chiefs head coaching search. A search process is certain to unfold, and probably already has, that will include both Crennel and external candidates.

The Chiefs went 2-1 and saw its defense thrive in Crennel’s dress rehearsal for the head job, but Kansas City also saw both sides of the football grow closer over its final three games as well.

“We don’t have any more games left,” Lewis said. “We took a step forward as a whole. We came out of this locker room as one and that’s how we came back in, as one. And we got a ‘W’.”

“RAC is a great guy, so we’re pulling for him,” running back Dexter McCluster added.

The future is now out of Crennel’s hands. As he told the team following the game, the chips will fall where they may. The 2011 season has ended and 2012 has begun.

At the end of his trial run, Crennel carries no regrets.

“When I got this job I told you I was going to do the best job I can and then let the chips fall where they may, and I think that’s still the case,” Crennel said. “The people who are going to make the decisions, they see how I’ve operated and whatever decision they make they are going to make it.

“If I didn’t want (the head coach job), I wouldn’t have taken it the first time.”

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