Columnist Vahe Gregorian offers musings about the sports scene in and around Kansas City
From A to Z, a nearly letter-perfect season opener for the Chiefs
09/09/2013 12:12 AM
09/16/2013 1:25 PM
An A-Z rewind of the Chiefs’ 28-2 win over Jacksonville and a fast-forward glance ahead:
is for Arrowhead Stadium, which linebacker Derrick Johnson said “will be rocking” for the Cowboys game on Sunday after the Chiefs opened their season with a victory for just the second time since 2005.
is for Branden Albert, the left tackle who was disenchanted in the offseason amid a contract dispute but has embraced the new coaching staff as much as anyone on the team. His attitude was evident Sunday in his shrugging off of an early ankle injury and perhaps overzealous defense of Jamaal Charles after what he deemed some unnecessary roughness in bringing Charles down.
is for concussion, which came to mind when Charles appeared to come down on his head in the third quarter and left the game. But the Chiefs called it a quadriceps injury. Charles, who rushed 16 times for 77 yards and a touchdown, returned briefly but later was held out, presumably as a precaution.
is for Dallas, which beat the New York Giants 36-31 on Sunday night. In a series that began in 1970, the Chiefs are 3-6 against their former NFL-AFL cross-town rival.
is for expectations, which surely are soaring now but might be best kept in check: Yes, the Chiefs pulverized Jacksonville, but each was 2-14 last season.
is for fifty years ago, which is when the Dallas Texans moved to Kansas City to become the Chiefs and enjoyed a 59-7 win over Denver in their season-opening game; the 28-2 win over Jacksonville was the Chiefs’ most lopsided win in an opener since then.
is for Green Bay, which is where new Chiefs general manager John Dorsey and new coach Andy Reid met, became friends and trusted colleagues and what led to their promising alliance in Kansas City.
is for Houston, Justin, the linebacker who had three of the Chiefs six sacks Sunday and now has 18.5 in his two-plus year career, already 12th in team history.
is for inauspiciously, which is how the game started for the Chiefs, who went three and out and had a Dustin Colquitt punt blocked for a safety.
is for Joeckel, Luke, the Jacksonville rookie offensive tackle who struggled in his first NFL start and was drafted second overall after the Chiefs passed over for him for Eric Fisher, whom Reid said “played good, tough, solid football.”
is for knockout, which the Chiefs administered with three first-half touchdowns, more than they managed in any half last season, along the way to a 28-point final tally that represented more points than they scored in any game last season.
is for lbs., as in pounds, the 20-plus lost by nose tackle Dontari Poe, who at a sleek 346 pounds was the epicenter of the Chiefs dominating defense. A “monster,” Houston called him, and Jacksonville couldn’t disagree.
is for McCluster, Dexter, whose 36-yard punt return set up the first Chiefs touchdown. The Chiefs longest punt return last season was 25 yards.
is for newcomers, of which the Chiefs have 30 on their 53-man roster, a radical rejiggering that thus far seems to have been beneficial.
is for one and for oh, which is the Chiefs record and means a lot even if it was over a sorry-looking team. “You can’t get behind in this league , We know the statistics,” linebacker Tamba Hali said. “Our league is probably the most competitive league in all sports right now. Every game is like 10 games. Just like touchdowns. You get down two, three touchdowns, it’s hard to come back from that.”
is for Preston Road Trophy, which goes to the winner of Chiefs-Cowboys games. The traveling trophy was conceived in 1998 by Lamar Hunt, who lived on Preston Road in Dallas as does Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. The Chiefs won the inaugural trophy in 1998 but have lost the last two, in 2005 and 2009.
is for quarterback, a position that has been largely a liability for the Chiefs recently but appears well-fortified by the off-season acquisition of Alex Smith, who completed 21 of 34 for 173 yards and two touchdowns and hit nine different receivers and made no meaningful mistakes.
is for red zone, where the Chiefs were three for three after a 2012 season in which they ranked last in the NFL (27.03 percent) in red zone TD percentage.
is for Sutton, Bob, the new defensive coordinator whose attacking philosophy led to an absolute straitjacketing of Jacksonville, which didn’t cross the 50 until well into the fourth quarter.
is for Tamba Hali, the Chiefs linebacker who felt he “struggled” in the Jacksonville game because he had no sacks but atoned with the first touchdown of his NFL career on a 10-yard interception return.
is for unprecedented possibilities: Yes, we should temper expectations, and stranger things may not have happened. But with the Royals still in playoff contention, 3.5 games out of a wild-card berth and the Chiefs with such a compelling opening showing, is it possible that each could make the playoffs in the same year for the first time?
is for victory, one of which the Chiefs already have in hand after taking nine games to even take a lead last season.
is for wide receivers Donnie Avery and Junior Hemingway, who scored the first two touchdowns for the Chiefs and their firsts with the Chiefs. Avery kept his feet after being hit to bang into the end zone and complete a 5-yard TD pass from Smith, and Hemingway made a nice leaping grab in the back of the end zone for a 3-yard TD
is for X-factor, which turnovers are in any football game. The Chiefs committed none on Sunday and plucked two (both on interceptions), a fine start towards improving on the mere 13 they picked up last season.
is for yards allowed by the Chiefs, which was 63 until midway through the fourth quarter. Jacksonville finished with 178.
Z is for zero points permitted by the Chiefs defense, which hadn’t done that since a 28-0 win over Oakland on Oct. 23, 2011. The only other time in Chiefs history in which the only opposing points were on a safety was in a 34-2 win over Denver in 1968.
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