The Morning After: San Francisco

Posted Sep 27, 2010

Chiefs ready for next mission

There was nothing ugly about that one.

From the pre-game ovation for legendary broadcaster Bill Grigisby, to the final stat sheet, and for everything that unfolded in between; Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead was “Beauuutiful Baby!”

Kansas City’s 31-10 win over San Francisco produced a hi-lite reel of ridiculous proportions. A one-handed TD grab, five sacks, some wildcat magic, numerous plays in pass coverage and a 170-pounder Superman diving over defenders into the end zone were just some of the notables.

Put it all together and the Chiefs put on a show at Arrowhead.

“That wasn’t, score-wise, what I was originally expecting,” head coach Todd Haley admitted. “But I’ll take it and I know they will.”

Everyone will take it. Sunday’s game may have been the most complete game of the Todd Haley era. If not, it was definitely the club’s more impressive performances in what Haley himself had deemed a game that “just got bigger.”

The Chiefs answered the call on both sides of the football. They looked more prepared than their counterparts. They executed better than their counterparts. As a result, they are 3-0 for the first time since 2003, they’ve won three-straight for the first time since 2006 and the Arrowhead Advantage was back for yet another afternoon.

Yeah, Sunday was pretty fun.

“It’s feels good,” said Brandon Flowers, who notched an INT and three passes defensed. “This is what we’ve been talking about in OTAs, minicamp, training camp. We just have to keep it going, we can’t settle for 3-0.”

There aren’t many signs of this Chiefs team settling for anything. Each week objectives have been dealt out and the Chiefs have come back with nothing other than a mission accomplished.

1)      Take out the AFC West favorites on the national stage - check

2)      Don’t suffer a letdown and win on the road in Cleveland – check

3)      Beat a talented 49ers team whose back is against the wall – check

In Todd Haley’s “quarters system,” the Chiefs have now reached that ever-important victory mark of three. With an early bye week on the horizon, Kansas City now has two weeks to prepare for the tall task of turning in a perfect quarter before the system resets; a road which happens to run right through Indianapolis.

These are good times for the Chiefs organization. Really, these are the best of times this fan base has experienced since 2003. Everyone is feeling the positivity.

All of those good vibes are building and bubbling. They’re about to overflow. Soak all of it in, and put yourself into the shoes of the head coach. Do that, and it isn’t hard to understand what the theme of Kansas City’s next mission is going to be.  

“I think that one of the pitfalls in this business is thinking that you’ve accomplished something which, across the board from an employment standpoint, pretty much whatever you’re doing that if you get feeling like you’ve accomplished much, generally the trap door’s about ready to open and you’re going to make a long fall into some ugly waters,” Haley said.

“That’s something I believe, it’s the way I’ve always believed, it’s the way I coach, that’s the way I was raised and taught, and again we are three games into the first quarter of the season and we haven’t done anything.”

After what may be the most exciting start in recent Chiefs history, Haley is putting things into perspective. That message, not 30 minutes after victory, had already hit the locker room.

“The most important thing is you have to realize is we could do a lot better,” Branden Albert said. “That’s a good sign. We’ve improved, there’s room for improvement and we’ve got to keep improving and make sure we shore things up and get things going.”

After a win like Sunday, the fact that the Chiefs realize there is still plenty of room for improvement…that’s the most positive thing to come out of Arrowhead.

Three to Like

1)      Well Coached

In every phase of the game, the Chiefs were a well coached football team on Sunday. Offensively, Kansas City gave Greg Manusky about 50 different things to think about as he tried to coordinate the 49ers defense…and it showed with the Niners yielding 207 rushing yards, 250 passing yards and seven plays of 20 yards. Defensively, the Chiefs didn’t allow a TD until after the clock’s final tick and held Frank Gore in check.

There were a number of other key instances as well, such as baiting the 49ers for the wildcat reverse pass with a handful of early wildcat runs. The Chiefs also caused the 49ers to burn a timeout in a rather comical fashion with the on-the-field/off-the-field punt team routine. They’d finally go for the first down and convert the club’s second fourth down attempt in as many weeks.

The Chiefs planned well and, even better, executed that game plan with maximum production on Sunday.

2)      43 and 10

43: That’s the number of rushing yards that the Chiefs were able to hold Pro Bowl RB Frank Gore to. San Francisco’s offense goes through Gore and the Chiefs cut that lifeline. He was targeted a team-high 13 times in the passing game and was the 49ers’ lone ball carrier with 15 rushes. The Chiefs ability to keep Gore at 2.9 yards per attempt was a big reason that the Niners punted eight times and didn’t reach the end zone until the game’s final play.

10: By holding the 49ers to just 10 points, Kansas City has now won 44 consecutive games at Arrowhead when opponents score 10 points or less.

“We’re very proud,” LB Tamba Hali said. “You know Romeo Crennel has come in here and really changed our identity and the things we’re doing we’re very happy about.”

3)      Cassel’s Grit

With just under 13 minutes remaining in the second quarter, Matt Cassel was 4-of-9 with 38 passing yards and a QB rating hovering around 50.0. The game was scoreless, Kansas City was driving into San Francisco’s Red Zone and Cassel’s next throw was picked. Naturally, some boos filtered through Arrowhead.

After that play, Cassel had one of two directions to go.

He ended up choosing the route that led to completing 12 of his final 18 passes for 212 yards and three TDs. That thre- quarter stretch bumped up Cassel’s passer rating from 11.7 after the INT to its final resting place of 111.7; a remarkable comeback of a full 100.0 rating points.

“I know this quarterback, why I like him so much, is that he’s not going to waiver and he’s not going to crack,” Haley said. “That’s the way you have success in any business. You better believe in what you believe in and if it has some fundamentals that give it a chance of success.”

Three for Improvement

1)      Gore’s Big Catch

On the second-to-last play of the game, Frank Gore caught a short pass and went 41 yards down the right sideline to the Chiefs 12 yard line. That play was San Francisco’s biggest from scrimmage, put Gore over the 100-yard receiving mark and gave the 49ers one final crack at the end zone. The final crack was what San Francisco used to get their first and only touchdown of the game.

2)      Penalties and Kicking

Kansas City committed a season-high seven penalties. Though an average of just 5.7 yards was penalized on each flag, that penalty total equaled the amount of penalties in the Chiefs first two games put together. In the kicking game, a kickoff sailed out of bounds and Ryan Succop had kicking streak of 15-straight made field goals snapped.

3)      Watch the tape

That’s what Todd Haley is going to do, and he’ll find plenty to improve upon. For the rest of us, Sunday looked pretty darn good. Game Balls

Offense: Coaching Staff

The wildcat reverse pass was just one of many offensive highlights turned in by the Chiefs. There were so many impressive offensive performances that it’s difficult to choose just one individual player for game ball honors. That’s a good problem to have and it’s typically the product of a well coached football team.

Defense: Tamba Hali

Hali wreaked havoc in the 49ers backfield, chasing Alex Smith throughout the day and taking him to the ground for a sack on three occasions. He also tallied his 16th career forced fumble, a number that ranks third in franchise history behind only Derrick Thomas and Neil Smith.

Honorable mention goes to Brandon Flowers and Shaun Smith, though the defensive success was certainly an 11 man effort.

Special Teams: Dustin Colquitt

When the Chiefs did punt, Colquitt punched it inside the 20. Colquitt notched a 44.3 net average with three of his four punts landing inside the 20 yard line. His kicks were huge during the early stages when the game looked like it was going to be a defensive battle filled with the importance of field position.

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