GLENDALE, Ariz. – Every NFL season seems to turn on a game here, two games there, the difference between 10-6 and 7-9, and the Chiefs have to feel like they just lost one of those games.
Arizona plays good defense, and had a terrific gameplan against the Chiefs – particularly in the second half – but the Chiefs had every opportunity to win this game.
Losing it means they need to win out, presumably, or watch other teams in the playoffs while they get their draft board set.
I need to get down to the locker room. Talk to you guys again soon.
I think we talk about this most weeks, so it's not like it's overlooked, but my goodness Jamaal Charles is gifted. That 63-yard touchdown run in the first quarter looked like a glitch in a video game, just bounced off one guy and then untouched. If you saw that kind of run in a high school or youth game, you'd make a joke about wanting to see the guy's birth certificate.
Speaking of Charles, give him the damn ball.
Also, he gets (justifiably) criticized often, so it's worth pointing out that Mike McGlynn had a great block on the play.
Of course, there were plenty of other plays where McGlynn got smoked.
The Chiefs dropped three interceptions. Three. Against a bad quarterback, you have to make those plays to make him a bad quarterback. None of them were basket catches, but they are plays that should be made in the NFL. Game would've been entirely different.
Drew Stanton is not good. I know the Cardinals talked a big game when Carson Palmer got hurt, Bruce Arians saying they could win the Super Bowl with Drew Stanton at quarterback. Arians is a HELL of a coach, but jeez. Stanton is not good. Misses open receivers, even when he has time. Doesn't make plays on his own.
Arizona's receivers are good enough to make him look better than he really is, but if you watch closely, you see a lot of yards left on the field.
Dontari Poe, after hitting what we might call a slump, was giving the Cardinals' offensive line the business. That's a weak spot for Arizona, so Poe was doing what he should, but it was still particularly good for the Chiefs to see.
Actually, the entire Cardinals line is fairly shabby. Chiefs fans like to gripe about their own line, and rightly so, but it could be much worse.
Look at Joe Mays. We see you.
Dwayne Bowe's hurdle was absolutely terrific, and came out of absolute nowhere. Love the exaggerated underhand spiral to the official, too, and that's after every catch.
The last two weeks has been a lot of Alex Smith bashing, but guys, he's pretty damn good. He's not Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning or anyone else you want to put in the top tier, but there are a lot of teams that would love to have him playing quarterback. His strengths are subtle and his weaknesses more clear, so he's easy to pick on, but he does a lot right. And you can't overlook that he's doing this with, basically, your neighbors playing wide receiver.
And I typed those words before Smith ad-libbed and threw it deep to Avant, in single coverage against Patrick Peterson. Avant deserves more of the credit for the completion than Smith, but it's not like Smith never tries something deep. It's more that the bags of sand the Chiefs have playing receiver can't go deep much.
Of course, I typed THOSE words before Smith's interception. Which was a heck of a play by Okafor, who has really good hands, especially for a linebacker. But, also, a needless pass by Smith going for like five yards on third-and-forever. When you think about the context of what Smith is and tries to be, that's an infuriating interception.
So, you know. Whatever.
Charles' touchdown run was the Chiefs' longest play from scrimmage. I've talked about this before, including after the second Broncos loss, but the Chiefs should be the exception to the rule that NFL teams go pass-heavy when trying to come back. The Chiefs' best big-play threat is the run, not the pass, and even as it's an indictment on their receivers it's a fact. At some point in the next three games, the Chiefs are going to need to come back from a deficit and for their sake I hope they don't abandon the run.
Football is a complicated game, but when a defense stacks against Jamaal Charles and blitzes the Chiefs' mediocre-at-best offensive line, it sure looks simple, doesn't it?
Look, guys … I didn't see the penalty on Fasano either, and I didn't see Kelce fumble – looked to me like it was knocked out of his hands after he was down – but the Chiefs didn't get screwed here. They screwed themselves, with some obvious mistakes that have nothing to do with officials.
Column should post soon. I'd appreciate your click.