Romeo Crennel seat is too hot to sit on right now.
Somebody had to win this game. While there was always the possibility of a tie, you figured the football gods would intervene if need be to let one of these teams win a game and save everybody from an extra 15 minutes. In a game that probably wouldn’t have been shown in a lot of places besides San Diego and Kansas City if played on a Sunday, it was instead given the national treatment this Thursday night, with the San Diego Chargers coming out with a 31-13 victory against the Chiefs. This was a battle of mediocre teams, with both teams underachieving at different yet impressive levels.
The Chargers had lost three straight, losing 7-6 to the lowly Cleveland Browns last week, and relinquishing double digit leads in back-to-back games against the previously winless New Orleans Saints and division rival Denver Broncos. The Chargers hadn’t scored a touchdown since the first half of the Denver Broncos game, which was played on October 15th. The Chargers, who are notorious for their bad starts, shot out to a 3-1 record this season, only to go winless in October.
The Chargers fans might have actually been rooting against their own team, with the temperature on Norv Turner’s seat being turned up with each uninspired loss. The Chargers fans, drawing some inspiration from the Chiefs fans who booed their own quarterback when Matt Cassel got hurt, unveiled a sign asking president Dean Spanos to fire Turner and general manager A.J. Smith during halftime, even though the Chargers were winning 10-3 at that point.
You can’t really blame these fans either. The Chargers have underachieved at masterful levels the last few seasons. Their best win this year came against the Oakland Raiders on Week 1, which was Dennis Allen’s first game on the job and the Raiders finished the game without a long snapper.
The Kansas City Chiefs entered the game losing four straight, and having accomplished the impressive feat of having not lead in a single game this year, their only win coming in overtime against the New Orleans Saints, with Ryan Succop kicking a game winning field goal. The Chiefs were forced to go back to quarterback Matt Cassel after Brady Quinn suffered a head injury last week.
Phillip Rivers had his best game of the season, completing 18 of 20 passes for 220 yards and 2 touchdowns (throwing one interception.) Even though his game was cut short due to an injury, Ryan Mathews also played well, running 13 times for 67 yards (a 5.2 yards per carry average.) Antonio Gates caught all three of his targets for 43 yards, including the 14 yard touchdown that snapped San Diego’s touchdown-less streak.
Despite the offense’s efficiency, it was their defense that put the game out of reach. The Chargers defense scored touchdowns on back-to-back drives, with Shaun Phillips recovering the football in the end zone after Cassel fumbled it, and with Demorrio Williams returning an interception 59 yards for a touchdown. That left the game at 31-6, with about eight and a half minutes left.
There is not much of a silver lining for the Kansas City Chiefs. They lost for the fifth straight week, and for the second straight week against a division rival. If you take out Jamaal Charles 15 yard run, he ran the ball 11 times for 24 yards, which is just as futile as Peyton Hillis’ running attempts, with his 7 carries equating to 14 yards.
The Chiefs, which were in the game for three quarters, with the team heading into the 4th quarter trailing only 10-6, don’t move the ball down the field enough, and shoot themselves in the foot too often. Their four turnovers, including the two that were taken back for touchdowns in the fourth quarter, is what put this game out of reach.
The Chargers will have a long week to prepare for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but after that game, will be the stretch that defines their season. They will play four games in a row against AFC teams that are fighting to make the playoffs, and the Chargers will probably need to go 3-1 to feel good about their chances. If over the next five games the Chargers end up with a losing record, despite Spanos’ wishes to finish the season with Tuner and Smith at the helm, at least one of they may have to go, to send a message to this underachieving team.
For the Chiefs, it is more than safe to say that their season, for competitive purposes, is done. At 1-7 they’ve buried too deep a hole for themselves, and the only suspense that is left for the rest of the season is how long will they wait before implementing changes, and if any players step up and show they’re worth saving. It is a sad turn of events for Chiefs fans, whose 2010 division championship must feel like Greek mythology. With a lot of good young players returning from injury this year, the Chiefs were hoping to make some noise. That clearly hasn’t happened.
Romeo Crennel has failed at his second straight venture as a head coach, and will most likely not be retained, if he makes it to the end of the season. Scott Pioli has drafted some talented players, but has brought along some duds as well, and his standing has to be shaky as well. Both quarterbacks have proven that they are not competent quarterbacks, much less franchise ones. And the trade deadline has passed, meaning that Dwayne Bowe will most likely not be turned into anything useful before he walks away this summer.
While the other three teams that are 2-6 or worse have drafted a quarterback in the first round within the last two years, the Chiefs seem to want to play it safe and secure the worst record in the NFL. The most indicative moment in the game for the Chiefs, and how they view the rest of the season, is when after the game when asked why he didn’t come back in, Charles said “they just told me to relax.” With the Chiefs already in that mentality, besides Jamaal Charles, it seems the person most likely to be on the roster next year, is Geno Smith.
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