Chiefs don’t want to stumble the way they did after previous win


The Kansas City Star

The last time the Chiefs won a game, they responded by going into a virtual coma. They followed their first win, a 33-19 beating of Denver in September, with their worst games of the season in blowout losses to Carolina and Tennessee.
Sunday delivered their second win, this one against the Raiders in Oakland. Coach Herm Edwards said he will make it a “big-time” point of emphasis to see that the Chiefs respond better this week than they did after their last victory.
The Chiefs get a rematch with the 7-5 Broncos on Sunday, this time in Denver.
“Hopefully, they learned their lesson from the Carolina experience,” Edwards said, referring to a 34-0 loss in which the Chiefs were never competitive.
“The one thing this league teaches you: It’s not who you play. It’s how you play the day you play them. You prepare every week, and you go in and play. If you play your game, you’ve got a shot. That’s what I hoped they learned.”
Edwards said he didn’t get despondent over the Chiefs’ last defeat, a 54-31 debacle against Buffalo, because of the game’s circumstances. The Chiefs committed five turnovers, the Bills none.
“That’s why I didn’t look at last week’s loss as a setback,” Edwards said. “It was more that we didn’t play our game. We turned the ball over five times. We can’t do that against anybody. We’re not good enough. That’s what I kept telling our guys.”
Guard Brian Waters was outspoken after the loss in Carolina, saying it was the result of a young team thinking the previous week’s win over Denver solved all its problems.
Edwards said Monday that, looking back, he agreed with Waters.
“That was our youth,” Edwards said. “We had beaten a good team in Denver, an undefeated team.
“Now, we get to play them again. They’re first in the division, and they’ll probably win the division. How are we going to handle that? When you’re coaching a young team and building a young team, that’s the next challenge you put in front of them.”
Asked how he thought the 2-10 Chiefs would respond, Edwards chuckled, indicating his uncertainty. The results of their games usually haven’t been surprising, but their level of competitiveness has been difficult to predict from week to week.
The Chiefs, for instance, thought they had matured and improved greatly after their previous win over the Broncos, who were then 3-0. That’s why the Carolina and Tennessee losses were so disappointing.
“I think they’ll respond,” Edwards said less than confidently, before adding, “They’ve got to know the only reason we beat them last time is that they turned the ball over.”
The Chiefs intercepted Jay Cutler twice and recovered two Denver fumbles. Larry Johnson had his best game of the season, rushing for 198 yards and two touchdowns.
But the Chiefs haven’t won in Denver since the new Mile High Stadium was opened in 2001. The Chiefs last won there in 2000, when they were coached by Gunther Cunningham.
“We’re going to a tough spot,” Edwards said. “We know that.”
A lot of the Chiefs, though, don’t know the history. The team will take 17 rookies to Denver this weekend.
This should be the Chiefs’ most difficult game of their remaining four. Home games with 4-8 San Diego and 7-5 Miami follow. The Chiefs finish the season at Cincinnati, currently 1-10-1.
By beating the Raiders, the Chiefs fell behind the Bengals in the order of next year’s draft. Edwards indicated that winning as many of the last four games as possible would do a lot more for the Chiefs than just ruining their draft position.
“To be in a position to be going (upward) when the season ends … most of this group will be back,” he said. “This is the core of the football team. They’ll be together for the next five years, and now they’ve got experience.
“You want them to have the experience, but you want them to keep winning. They know how hard it is to win.”