KANSAS CITY 28, INDIANAPOLIS 24
1. More relief Part II
Yes, go ahead and enjoy the Chiefs thrilling 28-24 back-from-the-dead victory over the Colts.
Winless or not, Indianapolis and third-string QB Curtis Painter seemed to have stuck the Chiefs back in that dismal position where the defense couldnt find a key stop and the offense, um
Truthfully, it looked like there was nothing available.
The offense couldnt generate any running game and Matt Cassel as we know from previous experience isnt exactly Joe Montana or Dan Marino in the area of leading spectacular comebacks.
And yet the Chiefs did it, erasing a 17-point lead and if you REALLY believed that would happen, welI, I think youre blowing smoke.
Not only did Cassel get into a big-time rhythm and find Pro Bowl target Dwayne Bowe for a couple of scores, but newcomer Steve Breaston also came through big-time with two TD catches of his own.
And then when it finally came down to running the ball or giving the Colts a chance to steal the game back, the Chiefs returned to last years comfort zone and ground out the yards.
2. On the other hand
Remember the opposition.
Id love to say this victory sets the Chiefs on course for another run at the AFC West title, but lets be serious.
Theyre still 2-3, while both Oakland and San Diego won again on Sunday so the hill looks a little like Mt. Everest.
And to be honest, even though Painter was efficient directing the Colts, these arent the guys whove terrorized the Chiefs in the past.
Honestly, I dont think a healthy Peyton Manning would make Indianapolis a playoff contender.
Whatever running game Indianapolis might have had disappeared with an injury to Joseph Addai.
The Colts defense is porous.
All credit to Cassel and Co. for exploiting it and finding those holes for touchdown passes, but please dont get carried away.
The Chiefs wont climb out of 17-point deficits against many other teams in the NFL.
In fact, I cant think of one.
OK, maybe Miami -- but lets hope it doesnt get to that when the two teams meet later this year.
3. Hello, Jackie Battle!
One problem the Chiefs faced with the loss of Jamaal Charles was that they had neither a reliable breakaway back nor a beast who could do damage inside.
Todd Haleys mantra of run-first, pass-second went decidedly off key with the loss of Charles.
Thomas Jones, bless him, has lost a step or more. Hes still reliable if you need to hang onto the ball and all that, but Jones cant move a pile anymore and his cut-backs now take too long.
Meanwhile, Dexter McCluster still isnt a natural running back. He relies on straight-ahead speed, and doesnt seem to have any feel for slowing down to wait for his blocks.
Dexter doesnt quite know when to reverse direction, either.
So you had a team that wanted to live by the run but possessed no true running threat.
Granted, it might be premature to make a judgment off one great game, but Jackie Battle who looked super near the finish of the win over Minnesota a week earlier was absolutely a beast against the Colts.
The TD passes were exciting, but Battle nailed down this win with powerful, explosive running 19 carries for 119 yards, including the real tough stuff when the Colts were expecting the run and loading up the box.
Battle is strong as an ox which you might expect from a guy who weighs 238 pounds but against the Colts, he also showed a remarkable burst through the smallest holes, and finished every run by bulling forward and taking the pile with him.
Its still early, but doggone it, Battle very well could turn out to be the feature back the Chiefs need to hammer the middle which just may give McCluster some space to find the edges.
One way or another, Battle was immense in this victory and there is a promise of more to come.
4. Wheres the pass rush?
One huge reason the Chiefs got into a deep hole on Sunday was that they couldnt put any sustained pressure on Painter, who had far too much time to search for Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon.
In five games, so far only Tamba Hali has shown any consistent ability to get near the quarterback.
Thats not going to get it over the long haul.
Good teams with good passing attacks will torture the Chiefs secondary if Hali has to rush by himself.
One positive sign on Sunday was that coordinator Romeo Crennel took some of the complicated, every-down assignments away from rookie Justin Houston.
Crennel started the reliable but less-than-dynamic Andy Studebaker at the outside linebacker spot, then used Houston in some passing situations and turned him loose to rush.
No, he wasnt Derrick Thomas but Houston did get some penetration on several plays and hurried Painter when the Colts were trying to rediscover some passing tempo.
Eventually, the gifted Houston will be able to handle the whole load but the guess here is that Crennel may alternate him with Studebaker to give Houston more freedom.
It worked well against the Colts, and it was needed.
5. Bowes great season was no fluke.
The big man had another great game, and hes playing with passion to go with those considerable skills.
I could watch replays of that juggling end-zone catch amazing acrobatics while he was being mugged all night long.
Now that Breaston has shown he CAN be a viable part of the offense and rookie Jonathan Baldwin is just about ready to play after that silly injury, teams will have difficulty double-teaming Bowe.
Cassel is dreaming of new weapons and more days like this.
"He is a guy I trust with all my heart -- and the ball," Cassel said of Bowe. "Then you get Steve Breaston, who continues to make so many plays. They compliment each other very well. If you're going to double one, you can't double the other."
Add Baldwin to the mix and the Chiefs have something to scare opponents, as long as Cassel had time to throw and he might if Battle becomes a legitimate running weapon.
But the main point here is that Dwayne Bowe, now fully committed to playing like a true professional, has become one of the best receivers in the NFL.
Any worry that Bowe was a one-season wonder