The Morning After: Oakland

Posted Jan 3, 2011

Can the Chiefs bounce back from Sunday's loss and reject a 1,000-pound gorilla?

With the NFL playoff schedule set, and the Baltimore Ravens scheduled to visit Arrowhead on Sunday afternoon, just one question remains. Can the Chiefs recover from Sunday’s blowout loss in time to win the franchise’s first playoff game since 1993?

It’s been 17 years since the Chiefs last won a postseason game. 1993 represents the 1,000-pound gorilla sitting in the room, but it’s the Raiders win on Sunday that pertains to the present.

Is the momentum of an undefeated home season gone? Did Oakland expose weaknesses in Kansas City’s pass protection during a seven-sack performance? Was there a “collective sigh” from Kansas City’s locker room following last weekend’s AFC West wrap?

All the subsidiary results of the Chiefs 31-10 loss will suffice when an answer is found for the primary question. Can the Chiefs bounce make from a lopsided loss before the Ravens come to town?

“It will affect us if we allow it to,” Brian Waters said. “The main thing between now and Wednesday is to get rid of this. Hopefully, when we wake in the morning people will wake up refreshed and ready to go and ready to put forth all of that injury and focus for the next opponent.”

Finding an answer coming off of a poor performance is nothing new for the Chiefs. It’s actually encompassed the team’s season.

A fourth quarter collapse in Houston was answered with a home win over the Jaguars. That victory would spring back-to-back victories at Arrowhead.

Just a few weeks later, the Chiefs suffered a lopsided loss in Denver, only to correct that disappointment with a blowout win over Arizona. Two more victories over the Seahawks and Broncos would follow.

“There’s two different deals there – tough losses and bad losses,” head coach Todd Haley said. “This regular season has defined our team. Now this post-season will determine what we are.”

Kansas City has been handed some bad defeats this season, Sunday certainly being one of them.

A Raiders team playing without RB Darren McFadden and DL Richard Seymour dominated the ground game with 209 rushing yards and controlled the line of scrimmage with 7.0 sacks. This was one of those games you felt good about when the inactive list was turned in.

Afterwards, the feel-goods were few and far between.

“Playing bad anytime is disappointing,” Ryan Lilja said. “Playing bad at home, playing bad going into the playoffs, none of it is good. We have another chance to play, which is a good thing. We have a bit of life left and we have to rebound. We have done that this season; after disappointing losses we have come back and played better.”

The bounce-back has been Kansas City’s source of strength this season with the team almost always finding an answer for disappointment.

Most recently, the Chiefs followed a 31-0 whitewashing in San Diego with an impressive road win in St. Louis and then parlayed that victory with a division-clinching victory over Tennessee.

On the road or at home, there has always been an answer.

“This team is built on adversity,” Wallace Gilberry said. “That is one of the things we have been thriving on all year. As long as we stick together as a team we will be okay.”

But this game carried a different flavor.

Not only were the Chiefs undefeated at the New Arrowhead, but a certain sense of invisibility surrounded Arrowhead as well. Call it the Arrowhead Mystique. It been years since we last saw the Chiefs hold a decisive home field advantage. This season’s 7-0 home record was something special

Sunday’s loss put some dents in the armor, but it’s time to hit the reset button.

“You have to take this loss on the chin,” Brandon Flowers said. “You can’t hang your head at all. We are going into a whole new season right now. We are going in with no wins and no losses. We have to come out here with energy next week and do what we have been doing at home, make plays and keep the crowd into it.”

There no doubt the Chiefs have delivered a numerous bounce-back performances this year that have made them a playoff team, but this week’s response matters more than any other. It’s do-or-die.

Whether or not Sunday’s loss is used as a source of motivation, or as a starting point in moving forward, doesn’t matter. However it’s done, the Chiefs must find a way to start the second season similar to how that they began the year.

Can the Chiefs rebound from Sunday’s loss to reject the 1,000-pound gorilla?

Charles Misses History

Just how close was Jamaal Charles to making NFL history? How about a single rushing attempt?

Chasing Jim Brown’s 1963 single-season rushing average record, Charles was aiming to average more than 6.4 yards per carry on the season. He did so…right up until his final carry.

Charles’ last rushing attempt of the game came in the fourth quarter (7:55) and resulted in a one-yard loss. Being slung for that loss proved the difference between Brown keeping his rushing record and Chalres making NFL history. Have a look below.

Before Charles’ final carry…

Brown (291 for 1,863) = 6.402 yards per carry

Charles (229 for 1,468) = 6.410 yards per carry

After Charles’ final carry…

Brown (291 for 1,863) = 6.402 yards per carry

Charles (230 for 1,467) = 6.378 yards per carry

Despite the near miss, Charles joined Brown as the only players to average 6.3 yards per carry and rush for more than 1,400 yards.

Hali Wins AFC Sack Crown

Loads of Chiefs fans complained of Tamba Hali’s Pro Bowl snub last week. Winning the AFC’s sack crown should fuel that fire even more.

A rare bright spot in Sunday’s loss, Hali’s ability to consistently wreak havoc in Oakland’s backfield was impressive. Hali’s 2.5 sacks gave him a career-high 14.5 on the season; good enough to overtake Miami’s Cameron Wake for the conference lead in sacks.

Hali actually held the NFL’s sack crown up until the final few minutes of the Eagles/Cowboys game. In the end, Hali finished with the most sacks in the AFC but just missed on the NFL crown.

Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware recorded three sacks on Sunday to one-up Hali and finished the year with 15.5 sacks. Ware, of course, is representing the Cowboys on the NFC Pro Bowl roster.

Croyle the 3rd QB?

Brodie Croyle’s inactive status came as a bit of a surprise in the minutes leading up to kickoff. Typically the primary backup to Matt Cassel, Croyle was listed as the Chiefs third quarterback on Sunday.

As it turns out, Croyle’s third-QB status was not one because of demotion. It was more about giving Tyler Palko extra opportunity for development than anything else.

By NFL rules, the third quarterback may not enter a game prior to the fourth quarter without making the team’s other two active quarterbacks ineligible for the remainder of the contest. If Palko had been designated as the third QB on Sunday, the Chiefs would have been tied to Palko for the remainder of the game if he entered prior to the fourth quarter.

Croyle’s third-QB status gave the Chiefs an option of pulling Cassel in the third quarter to aide in Palko’s development had the situation called for it. As the third QB, Palko would have likely been restricted to a fourth quarter entry.

As it turns out, none of the third-QB jumbling mattered. Palko relieved Cassel midway through the fourth quarter and finished 2-of-3 for 27 yards. He was sacked twice.

Weis to Florida Confirmed

During his post-game media session, Todd Haley confirmed the rumors of offensive coordinator Charlie Weis leaving the Chiefs to serve in the same capacity at the University of Florida. Florida is expected to make an official announcement today.

Weis will remain with the Chiefs through the playoffs and the offensive play-calling duties will remain the same as it’s been all season.

Here’s what Haley had to say about Weis’ departure following Sunday’s game…

“Charlie and I and the Chiefs had a bunch of real productive conversations this weekend, really productive,” Haley said. “This is a bittersweet deal for me as the head coach because Charlie was obviously somebody I was real excited about having in here. That being said, Charlie is a family guy and he’s got a family situation where he can go to Florida and be with his son who’s going to get into coaching.

“Without talking personally about Charlie, this is a great situation for Charlie and I respect it 100 percent, we respect it 100 percent,” Haley continued. “I was really excited to get Charlie here; he’s been a big part of what we’ve done this year and he’s going to continue to be a big part of what we do this year. Charlie is a professional. He’s been in a similar situation, back a few years ago, where there were some potential distractions that could have been distractions that, being a professional, he did his job to the fullest and helped his team win a Super Bowl. So, I have the upmost confidence that that’s what we’ll go on.”

Bizarro World

The Raiders became the first team in NFL history to miss the playoffs after turning in an undefeated division record. Oakland went 6-0 in AFC West play while the Chiefs finished 2-4.

Likewise, the Seattle Seahawks become the NFL’s first 7-9 team to qualify for postseason play with their win over St. Louis on Sunday night.

Marty in the Hall

Legendary Chiefs head coach Marty Schottenheimer was inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame this weekend. Look for more on Schottenheimer’s induction, as well as sights and sounds from Alumni Weekend, later this week on

2011 Opponents Set

2011 home opponents: Broncos, Chargers, Raiders, Bills, Packers, Dolphins, Vikings and Steelers

2011 road opponents: Broncos, Chargers, Raiders, Bears, Lions, Patriots, Jets and Colts.

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