Highlighted by Alex Smiths five touchdown passes and AFC player of the week Jamaal Charles five touchdowns at Oakland on Sunday, the Chiefs offense suddenly has produced 19 touchdowns in the last four games after it managed just 20 in the first 10. And Smith has shown he can not only go downfield but that its a worthy element in his game.
Sure, a playoff berth for the Chiefs became virtually a foregone conclusion after their 9-0 start. But that didnt diminish the moment it became real on Sunday at Oakland Coliseum, where their quirky, turbulent 56-31 victory served as a proper exclamation point on this improbable season of seismic change.
In a metropolitan area long parched for nourishment from its professional sports teams, Sporting KC has shown the way and shone a light, claiming the MLS Cup on Dec. 7 in spectacularly painstaking fashion over Real Salt Lake before more than 20,000 delirious fans who shrugged off the frigid conditions.
Chiefs offensive lineman Jeff Allens resolve has prevailed at every turn after his father died when he was 10; through a thicket of potential trouble on the southeast side of Chicago; and reconciling with the man who became his father figure, an uncle who later was sent to prison following a bank robbery.
Coach Frank Haiths team is further along at this stage than last seasons talented-but-erratic group, which was less than the sum of its parts. And it has the apparent mesh, versatility and defensive mind-set to give it a chance to become a team to watch instead of one to fret over if the attitude is as good as Haith thinks it is.
To watch him romp in the snow on Sunday, you might not guess Dexter McCluster was born and raised in Largo, Fla., and played college football at Mississippi. And you wouldnt know that all he knew about playing football in the snow was that it looked like fun on TV and that he couldnt wait to get out and muck it up and mush through it on Sunday.
But even with the galling way Missouris loss in the SEC championship was administered, with Auburn running berserk for a stupefying 565 yards, the defeat isnt the prevailing signature of Mizzous season. Not remotely. Im not going to shed a tear. Im not going to shed one tear, senior receiver LDamian Washington said. Because Im proud.
Almost from the instant Missouri’s move to the Southeastern Conference became official 25 months ago, MU athletic director Mike Alden cautioned that a 30-month orientation period lay ahead. That all seems like distant history now after Missouri secured the SEC East title and will play for the conference championship Saturday in Atlanta against Auburn with an outside-but-legitimate chance for the national title.
An absurd outbreak of injuries, some offensive schemes that had grown stale, a distressed head coach and other transitional issues conspired to make for a deflating debut for Missouri football in the Southeastern Conference a year ago.
It may still be mathematically more difficult for the Chiefs to miss the playoffs than make them, but how theyre perched wont matter much if this team has already peaked. The burden of proof now is on the Chiefs to demonstrate that those first nine games werent fools gold forged on a favorable schedule.
On Saturday, 15-month-old Zoey was at the center of a celebration of the life of her mother, Kasandra Perkins, who a year ago was the victim of the murder-suicide committed by Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher.
Is this second straight loss a blip? Or is it a regression in a new direction? The answer, really, is neither. Or both. Because it hasnt been determined yet. But one way or another, we know this about the Chiefs: They almost always will be in close games that could go either way.
A 2-1 victory clinches Eastern Conference title on a chilly night at Sporting Park. And for all the remarkable breakthroughs the organization has cultivated and enjoyed the last few years, this magnificent stadium, the clever merchandising, the connection its created with fans, this moment still was a necessary validation.
Yes, the Denver Broncos beat the Chiefs 27-17 on Sunday night, and, yes, Denvers offensive strengths trumped the Chiefs defensive assets. But despite all that, this was no romp for the Broncos, who actually were matched in first downs (24) by the Chiefs. The Chiefs might be flawed, but theyre not a fraud.
With the Chiefs in Denver for tonights showdown, there is an unmistakable serenity around the franchise. It doesnt mean they will win, but even the flap over Dwayne Bowe shouldnt distract a voraciously hungry core of players that less than a year ago suffered true tragedy off the field and has absorbed chaos seemingly all around it for the last few years.
Ageless marvel that he may be at 74 years old, one day before too very long Kansas State coach Bill Snyder will retire again. And if athletic director John Currie were to entertain the idea of a rising younger candidate with deep K-State roots, here’s one surging a little below the radar: Youngstown State coach Eric Wolford, 41, who was among Snyder’s first recruits on campus in 1989.
The allegation by Riverside police that Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe was in possession late Sunday of more than 10 grams of marijuana implies that Bowe was brazenly oblivious to his responsibility to his teammates and the Chiefs organization, just as the team has surged back to life at 9-0 and prepares for its highest-profile game in years on Sunday at Denver.
Former Kansas football coach Mark Mangino returned, after a three-year sabbatical, returned to where his career began as an assistant at Youngstown State, his alma mater. He is 100 pounds lighter and said he made mistakes at KU but dismissed the notion that his emotions consumed him.
In the most essential moment of what became a 23-13 Chiefs victory, Sean Smith high-stepped the last 10 yards of his 100-yard interception return for a touchdown. It punctuated the turnaround that at once tied the game, reinvigorated the Chiefs and punctured the Bills.
The defense-minded Chiefs have a chance to improve to 9-0 this weekend at Buffalo, a milestone the franchise has reached only once before. And members of the 2003 team that made it to 9-0 are hoping this years squad can avoid their mistakes and eclipse that mark.
While the Sporting Kansas City midfielder has ascended to the upper echelon of U.S. soccer, he has remained grounded. That mind-set still is showing up now as Zusi prepares to lead Sporting into the MLS playoffs Saturday with no sense of being any better than anyone else.
Perhaps 3 inches or so from caroming between the uprights or maybe even going through unscathed and sending the game into a third overtime, the ball clanked off the left goalpost and fell no good. Instead, the game was over, and Mizzou lost 27-24 in double overtime, and Andrew Baggett was immediately cast somewhere between shock and anguish.
So the Chiefs are 8-0, but boy, they sure are lucky, some are grousing. As if that diminishes the fact theyre the only undefeated team in the NFL. Or suggests that its all a whim of fate or mere smoke and mirrors. But if you want to understand how luck and the Chiefs really have melded this season, indulge us in a cliche about the dynamic: Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
Inhabited by 40-some descendants of former slaves, rural Sapelo Island is reachable from the Georgia mainland only by ferry boat. Chiefs lineman Allen Bailey grew up there and remains fiercely proud of its people and uncomplicated way of life.
There are shades of gray to the NCAAs case against Missouri basketball coach Frank Haith, who will serve a five-game suspension. You could argue, that the NCAA endured too much controversy and invested too much in this to exonerate Haith. But, certainly, some of whats attributed to Haith in the NCAAs report, including inconsistent answers given to investigators, is undoubtedly candid.