KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Boring can work. Heck, look at Kansas State. Bill Snyder has been doing boring for more than 20 years now, and the Jedi master keeps kicking tail and taking names. He's excelled at boring. Bill Snyder is the Bruce Lee of boring.
But here's the thing about shooting for boring: You've got to be air-tight, too. Can't have one without the other. If you're going to be boring, you have to be boring and smart.
You have to protect the rock like it's your first-born. You can't compound boring with self-inflicted mistakes. You can't commit penalties. Your special teams have to be structurally sound, a model of discipline and execution. If you refuse to be aggressive in terms of beating the other guy, y'all had better not go out there and beat yourself.
A few minutes after he'd finished his locker-stall sermon on Matt Cassel and Chiefs fans, Kansas City tackle Eric Winston also declared: "I've never, ever have seen somebody come out and run the ball like we did (Sunday). And that better roll over. This has got to be us every game. I told everybody in the locker room, it's going to be a street fight every game. This is who we are, this is who we need to be. This is Kansas City, this is what we need to be.
"We need to be a bunch of brawlers," the big lug continued after the Chiefs fell, 9-6, to Baltimore in the NFL's weekly watching-the-paint-dry special. "And you know what? If we have to run it 50 times and fans boo when we run it on 3rd-and-7, oh well. We're going to be a bunch of brawlers, the defense is going to be a bunch of brawlers, we're not going to turn the ball over anymore, and we're going to go get some wins."
Boring can work. Folks love to wax nostalgic about last December's grind-it-out, 19-14 upset of then-undefeated Green Bay, holding it aloft like Baby Simba in "The Lion King," the pinnacle of coach Romeo Crennel's vision, whatever that is.
But here's the stat that sometimes gets overlooked from that day: While playing keep-away from Aaron Rodgers, Kansas City didn't turn the ball over. Not once.
Which brings us to the root of the problem, why a season sits at 1-4 and is threatening to fly off the rails by Halloween. When it comes to ball security, Crennel's 2012 Chiefs are Charles Bronson six days a week, and Barney Fife once the whistle blows.
If five games, Kansas City has turned the ball over a stupefying 19 times, 10 on lost fumbles alone. If the goal is long drives and 12-10 football tilts, then giving the rock away four times a contest kind of defeats the point a bit, don't you think?
"You do what you think you need to do," Crennel explains, "to try and to win a game with (the) team that you have."
The Chiefs ran the ball 50 times and threw it 18 against the Ravens, a ratio that harkens back to Barry Switzer's Oklahoma teams of the early 1970s. They put the ball in the hands of people who could make plays -- namely, running back Jamaal Charles, who got 33 touches and 161 total yards out of the deal -- and took it out of the hands of Cassel, a nice guy who appears to be psychologically destroyed by the past five months.
Instead of rolling the dice, Crennel and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll rolled the clock back to 1932. The crowd at Arrowhead Stadium howled. Twitter imploded. And yet...
Boring can work. That is, unless boring gets sloppy.
The Chiefs forced a fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half, then drove 28 yards to the Ravens' 1-yard-line. They were knocking on the door of a touchdown that might've swung the momentum, on an afternoon when a favored Baltimore bunch looked confused and disinterested.
On 1st-and-goal, Kansas City center Ryan Lilja -- in his defense, a guard by trade -- muffed his exchange with Cassel. The Ravens pounced on the fumble, and that was that.
"You can't do that, obviously," Lilja would say later. "Can't do it down there. Can't turn the ball anywhere on the field, as we found out the hard way."
Baltimore took possession, drove it 80 yards the other way, and kicked a 26-yard field goal that gave them a lead they'd never relinquish. The Ravens picked a good day to have a bad day.
That's the trouble with boring. The more you limit your possessions, the more you limit your wiggle room. The more you limit your margin for error.
To wit: In the fourth quarter, with the visitors having somehow stumbled to a 9-3 advantage, the Chiefs had not one, but two pass plays in Ravens territory wiped out because of offensive pass interference. The first was called on Dwayne Bowe, taking away a potential 25-yard toss to Dexter McCluster at the Baltmore 20.
The second, on the very next drive, was called on McCluster, ripping a potential 15-yard touchdown toss from Brady Quinn to Bowe off the board with 5:16 left to go in the contest.
"We've just got to continue to pay attention to details," running back Cyrus Gray observed. "That's the thing in this league: Details."
The Chiefs committed eight penalties on the day, racking up 60 yards in demerits. The Ravens had five for 33. Boring can work. Boring and dumb is just boring.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org