You could forgive the Kansas City Chiefs’ fans for being unsure of how to celebrate Sunday afternoon when the Andy Reid regime got off to a sizzling start with a 28-2 pummeling of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Florida heat.
So many confusing things happened in this game for Chiefs fans. There was undoubtedly a lot of arm-pinching going on just to make sure that they weren’t dreaming. The new-look offense was steady but completely unspectacular, but the real story of this game was the defensive effort that resurrected images of Derrick Thomas, Dan Saleamua, Neil Smith and Kevin Ross and some of the great defenses of the past.
The defense dominated the Jags offense so thoroughly that Jacksonville was in danger of challenging a team record in offensive futility – a franchise low 117 yards set last season against Houston. It was such a great performance that fans quickly forgave KC for the unwelcome flashback to 2012 at the beginning of the game.
After the offense failed to pick up a first down on their opening series, the Jags blocked Dustin Colquitt’s punt out of the back of the end zone for a safety. Just 2-1/2 minutes into the game and the Chiefs were down 2-0 to a Jacksonville team most experts believe will be the worst in the league again this year. Beer bottle caps and blood pressure readings were popping all over Chiefs Nation at this point.
However, unlike 2012, the Chiefs turned things around from that moment on and it was unlike anything seen around here for the last half-decade. In just the first half alone, Chiefs fans witnessed unfamiliar things like:
- Two touchdown passes from their quarterback, Alex Smith. (Last year the team had only eight of them in 16 games)
- A rushing touchdown by RB Jamaal Charles (He only had 5 rushing TDs last year)
- The offense capitalizing on a turnover from the defense when Smith threw his second touchdown of the day just two plays after Brandon Flowers’ 32-yard interception return gave the Chiefs the ball on the Jaguar 21-yard line.
- Zero turnovers from their quarterback (Wait … isn’t it league rules that KC QBs average three turnovers a game?)
- 21 points scored by the offense (team only topped that mark 3 times for the entire game in 2012)
- One TD catch each by wide receivers Donnie Avery and Junior Hemingway (Except for Dwayne Bowe, one other WR caught one TD pass last year)
- Two sacks by the defense, including one from DT Dontari Poe (The entire D-line totaled just 5 sacks last year)
The Chiefs found themselves going into the locker room at halftime leading 21-2 and absolutely no one at the local drinking establishment that hosted your Chiefs Examiner and his sons thought the Chiefs would lose the game. No one. Sure enough, when the second half started, the defense imposed their will on the Jags even more than they had in the first half.
The Chiefs might have ended former Mizzou QB Blaine Gabbert’s NFL career the way they abused the poor guy in the second half. Dontari Poe, last year’s #1 draft pick that seemed lost in the Chiefs 2012 scheme, seems to like current defensive coordinator Bob Sutton new attacking style. Poe looked like a completely different player Sunday, racking up six tackles (1 for a loss), 1-1/2 quarterback sacks, one pass defensed, and 2 more quarterback hits. At that rate, Poe will be representing the Chiefs in the Pro Bowl in 2014.
Chad Henne replaced Gabbert late in the fourth quarter supposedly due to injury concerns to his hand. Um-hmm. Whatever helps you sleep at night, Jaguar coaching staff. Ok ... to be fair, Gabbert did cut his hand and needed 18 stitches to close it, but the Jags will be fortunate if he has to sit out for a while. The Jags are probably out of patience with their 2011 draft pick that is not an NFL-caliber quarterback now and might never be. And trust us in Kansas City … we know what crummy quarterback play looks like in this town.
However, the star of the game defensively was LB Justin Houston, who terrorized Jags rookie tackle Luke Joeckel to the tune of five tackles (3 for a loss), three sacks, and three more quarterback hits. For one game at least, the talk of whether the Chiefs made a mistake in taking Eric Fisher with their first pick instead of the highly regarded Joeckel is put to rest. Fisher got blown up on one play early in the game (but didn’t give up a sack) and then settled down and played well for the rest of the game.
In the end, the Chiefs flew back home with a dominating performance and a crucial road victory and stand tied with the Denver Mannings for first place in the AFC West. Moreover, even though it was far from a perfect game on offense, for a team that has been the league laughingstock the last two seasons, it was a confidence-building performance. Besides, getting road wins in the NFL, no matter whom it is against, is how you make the playoffs.
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