Originally posted on Fox Sports Kansas City
By SEAN KEELER  |  Last updated 9/15/13
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Bill Belichicks of the world would like you to think the NFL is quantum physics, that it floats above your feeble, triceratops brain and on some higher, purer level of academia. Which, as Einstein liked to say, is utter horse crap. (Of course, he sounded smarter when he said it.) Exhibit A: A year ago at this time, the Kansas City Chiefs had played two games, turned it over six times and collected zero takeaways. They were 0-2, had been outscored 75-41 and were on their way to a 2-14 dumpster fire of an autumn. Exhibit B: After a 17-16 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, the 2013 Chiefs have snatched four takeaways and have yet to turn it over. They're 2-0. They've outscored the opposition 45-18. Lesson No. 1: Take care of the football in the NFL, you win. You don't, you lose. Lesson No. 2: Always remember Lesson No. 1. Simple, right? Congratulations, kids. You just received your doctorate. "It's takeaways and points," coach Andy Reid said after winning his home debut, lifting the new-look Chiefs to their best start since 2010. "On both sides of the ball, we keep it nice and simple. "We try to eliminate the turnovers and we try to score points on offense. The opposite way, don't let them score and have some takeaways, and normally good things happen." There's no complex formula here, no magic wand. It's a fine line, the great demoralizer, the great equalizer. It can give a defense life and reduce an offensive coordinator to tears. In the right hands, it's an absolute weapon. "It's every day, man -- it's every day in practice," said Chiefs safety Eric Berry, whose fumble recovery with 38 seconds left in the third quarter helped set up the game-clinching field goal. "Every time we're touching off, tagging off on the run in practice, we're going after the ball, trying to get interceptions. "We're just trying to get the ball out, because we know that puts our offense in a good position to score and puts them in position to make a play. So that's a big emphasis during practice and it's starting to become second nature for the whole team. It's very important, and it's paying dividends." In a league in which everybody's got gladiators in their corner, turnovers are the "X" factor, the thing that swings the pendulum. On Sunday, the visitors turned it over twice in the second half while in their own territory, miscues that eventually led to those fateful three points. The Chiefs' giveaways: Zero. In Week 1, the Cowboys were plus-five on turnover count at home and knocked off the New York Giants. Again, it ain't rocket science. "We know, firsthand, from last week," Dallas ownergeneral manager Jerry Jones said, "that when you are minus-two in turnovers, you have a real uphill battle." For the second straight game, the boys in red got a little bit of something from everybody. But the single most pivotal moment might have come on that aforementioned takeaway, the result of Chiefs linebacker Akeem Jordan stripping Cowboys tailback Lance Dunbar as he went down after a 4-yard reception. Berry wound up with the rock at the Kansas City 47, then returned it 22 yards to the Cowboys' 31-yard line. "We knew that we needed a turnover -- that was the mindset," said safety Kendrick Lewis, who collected a tackle for a loss and a pass breakup. "And on the defense, we talked to each other on the sidelines, we were telling each other, 'We need the ball, go get the ball,' and that's how we went out there and swarmed together as a defense and were able to come up with two big-time plays." Last year: Minus-6. This year: Plus-4. So what's the secret: Personnel? Mindset? All of the above? "Got a good quarterback," running back Jamaal Charles said, matter-of-factly. Matt Cassel is gone, but the pain lives on. The Chiefs don't necessarily need Alex Smith to be brilliant all the time to win -- not with this defense, not with this punter. But they absolutely, unequivocally need him to be better than awful. And Smith was several stages above that -- again. "A lot of it is mindset," tackle Donald Stephenson said. "We all grew up playing ball and (were) taught to hang onto the ball, stuff like that, doing certain things in pass protections. But sometimes, it bounces off the helmet the wrong way and kind of the wrong thing (happens) and it keeps rolling. So it's a little bit of both." And the afternoon wasn't flawless, by any stretch: Those Chiefs had three drives that started in Dallas territory and only came away with those three points to show for it. The Cowboys made life hell on rookie right tackle Eric Fisher and kept the heat on Smith for much of the afternoon, sacking him four times. "You adjust. Whatever you get beat on, you remember it," said Stephenson, who was pressed into relief duty in the second quarter when left tackle Branden Albert was recovering from a shoulder injury. "That way, when you come in during the halftime (break), you talk about it getting fixed and then go out and play. You know, as we prepared (for) this game, there (were) just a couple of things that they showed that sometimes you don't see on film. "We're digging deep into the bag. That's how it is in this league. It takes everybody." It takes a new coach, a new front office, a new quarterback, a new collective mindset. Sometimes, it takes a new uniform combo -- in this case, red tops and red bottoms, believed to be a franchise first. Sometimes, it takes new pregame introductions -- now done individually, with the help of giant flamethrowers. But the more the aesthetics change, the more the basic tenets remain the same. The numbers don't lie: Last fall, the top four teams in the AFC in turnover margin all reached the postseason. Throw in the top four in plusminus in '10 and the top four in '11, and 11 of those 12 clubs wound up in the playoffs. Compare that with the bottom four in turnover margin in '10, '11 and '12, where nine of the 12 ended up missing the party. Lesson No. 3: Did we mention Lesson No. 1? "(There's) a reason why coaches preach it so much," Stephenson said. "It's probably the most truthful thing in stats." Last year, that truth hurt. This year? This year, it's positively beautiful. You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at seanmkeeler@gmail.com.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Seahawks extend Pete Carroll through 2019

LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye releases first statement following car crash

Report: Brock Osweiler could have made more money staying with Broncos

Andrew Luck: Feels `as good as I've ever felt` for training camp

Amar'e Stoudemire announces retirement after signing one-day contract with Knicks

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Gregory failed multiple drug tests since suspension

Olympian Abby Johnston: Worst thing about Olympic village is no Pokemon

Reggie Bush reportedly closing in on contract with Bills

Report: Eric Berry planning to no-show training camp

Eagles could have interest in Gordon if Browns trade him

Report: Fitzpatrick, Jets not likely to have deal before camp

Michael Vick: Cam Newton can’t beat me in 40-yard dash

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

Odell Beckham Jr. says Giants will play in Super Bowl LI

Iowa researchers say they can optimize Monday Night Football ratings with scheduling

Terrelle Pryor can visit Ohio State as five-year ban comes to a close

Rudy Gay admits to having ‘no idea’ about what the Kings are doing

Report: Kansas City Chiefs' Justin Houston likely to miss regular-season games

Padres reportedly making progress on Cashner trade

NFL Network to stream on PlayStation Vue

Report: Eagles’ Nigel Bradham charged for assaulting cabana boy

Rudy Gay underwent minor Achilles procedure this summer

Bashaud Breeland brought puppies to Washington camp

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker