Chiefs' Positives Continue In Denver
By Pat Clifton
Warpaint Illustrated Columnist
Posted Dec 7, 2008
The Chiefs' winless ways at Invesco Field continued during their 24-17 loss to the Broncos Sunday. Kansas City jumped out to an early lead against their division rival, but ultimately fell inches short on a potentially game-tying drive and ran out of time.
If there was ever a question about the accuracy of the old cliché “football is a game of inches,” Sunday's contest provided an answer. On fourth down with 4:44 left on the clock in the fourth quarter, no. 4, Tyler Thigpen, dropped back for a pass and sprinted towards the endzone for a four-yard gain, landing just shy of the goal line, resulting in a turnover on downs.
On the ensuing Denver drive, Kansas City's defense denied the Broncos yardage on a first-down quarterback sneak by Jay Cutler. Then, Glenn Dorsey beat a double-team on second down to stuff Tatum Bell for no gain. On third down, Cutler evaded the pressure of Jason Babin and Demorrio Williams, hitting Brandon Marshall for 19-yard gain and a critical first down. Two plays later, Denver gained another first down, putting the final nail in KC’s coffin.
Sunday's loss was probably not an easy one to swallow for the Chiefs and their faithful followers, but it's not the kind of loss that should be dwelled over in a negative light. Every loss is bad, and as someone once said, “You play to win the game,” but Sunday was just another learning experience for the young Chiefs and their observers.
Kansas City stood toe-to-toe with an 8-5 Denver Bronco team playing it's “A” game. Cutler completed a Sam Bradford-esque 32 of 40 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Two months ago, who would have thought Kansas City could go on the road and come within inches of forcing overtime against a probable division champion, especially when their quarterback completes 80 percent of his passes and the team averages over 4.5 yards per carry?
For a team that's squandered multiple takeaways game after game, the Chiefs hung with a good Denver team on top of their game, and did so with the help of only one Denver giveaway. That giveaway didn't just fall into KC's laps. Rather, Maurice Leggett read Cutler, and made a great play on his throw, picking him off and racing 27 yards for a touchdown.
That 27-yard touchdown was the second unconventional touchdown for Leggett in two weeks, and his play is one of the many encouraging things to come out of this disappointing season. So what did we find out about the Chiefs during their loss to Denver? We found out they're a resilient bunch of young guys. We found out that this offense can overcome the loss of a starting right guard, center, wide receiver, and backup running back and still be competitive. And we found out that Thigpen has the heart of a champion, nearly willing his way into the end zone for the game tying score on an 80-yard drive.
We found out all that in just one stinging loss to the Broncos. On a larger scope, we've found out a lot about the makeup of this team and its players over this long season. We've validated our belief that Tony Gonzalez is the consummate professional, and the exclamation point was put on that validation when we saw him console his dejected young quarterback after he fell just short of the endzone.
We've found two starting cornerbacks and a good nickel back, and that's with two former Division II players in Brandon Carr and Leggett, and an undersized star in Brandon Flowers. We've found out that the Chiefs have an outstanding rookie left tackle. We've found a diamond in the rough in Thigpen. We've found a legit second receiver in Mark Bradley. All these things we've discovered during a difficult season, for both the players and fans to endure alike.
Sure, we have found out some negative things about certain players and areas of weakness, but without such an injury-ridden and downtrodden season, many of these positives would not have had the opportunity to show themselves.
Some of you reading this may be calling me a homer or an eternal optimist, but when the bad is so obvious and too easy to point out in a 2-11 season, it serves us good to look at the positives. Three years from now, there's a good chance we'll look back on this year as a painful part of the growth