“You knock my socks off” – Harriet to Matt, in my favorite “Studio 60” scene. I fear, like Studio 60, that the 2011 Chiefs are destined to an earlier-than-should-have-been demise. I remain optimistic that, like Studio 60 after this “honestly in the rotation for greatest hour of television ever” episode, this season is going to have a few “knock your socks off” moments left in it …
There is not one legitimate reason to predict the Chiefs to win this football game. And just in case anyone reading this concludes “sweet Jesus, Stevo has officially lost all touch with common sense and reality!!!”, I am not predicting the Chiefs to win this game tonight.
My official pick: at Patriots 30, Chiefs (+14 ½) 27, on an overtime Gronkowski field goal.
But we CAN win this game. To be honest? In my gut, I think we ARE winning this game. But I want to taste the lasagna Wednesday, the turkey Thursday, and gamble on Friday at the Argosy, so I’m going to say “yeah, Pats win”, so that some well-intentioned soul doesn’t call Charter or Two Rivers or some other psychiatric ward to commit me at least two weeks too soon.
History, of which I have a minor in (yay $32,000 a year at the time!), especially sports history, is full of moments when a team with no business winning, a team that is multiple touchdown underdogs, somehow pulls off the “impossible”, and not only covers, but wins the game outright. (Cue Ol’ Pete King “no, favorites always win!!!!” look of shock and denial.) Hell, the whole reason I am able to compose and post this column today? Is because the second or third biggest underdogs in history (sorry, “untamed Lions vs Christians” is still number one), looked at the odds facing them in 1776, and said “screw it”, and signed their names as largely and loudly as they could onto a piece of paper. (Cue Ol’ Pete King “no, favorites always win!!!!” look of shock and denial.)
And when it comes to the Chiefs and Patriots, well, these contests are ALWAYS closer than they should be on paper.
(Side note: my favorite comment of the week, at ArrowheadPride.com, was when Joel Thorman posted the “how can the Chiefs win this game?” post, and one fan noted “well, we could send our SS (strong safety) to take out the Pats’ QB’s knee!”, an option I have no problems endorsing for a second time (Bernard Pollard ended Tom Brady’s season in week 1 of 2008 by doing that). But the comment that had me laughing, was the follow-up one liner: “no, we need the Pats’ QB to take out our SS’s knee!” Sabby Piscatelli everybody! Christ, he’s eight levels of awful. I mean, if there’s only eight layers of hell (according to Dante), doesn’t Sabby all but ensure there has to be a ninth, if not a thirteenth? Because seeing 42 on the field literally makes me want to hurl. I never thought anyone could challenge Bill Bartee for “Stevo’s Most Hated Chiefs Player Ever” … but Sabby’s damned close.)
In 2008, an awful Chiefs squad went to Foxboro to open the season as a 16 point underdog … and lost on the last play of the game, 17-10.
In 2005, two really good squads faced off at Arrowhead the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and it was possibly (ok, not even remotely*) the last great victory of the Vermeil years. “Cut” Greg Wesley picked off Tom Brady three times. The Chiefs won 26-16. This was the game when Jared Allen joined us for some post-game tailgating in the pimp white cowboy outfit, and the blue convertible with the longhorns on the hood. Stalker Lady showed up. Eventually parking lot maintenance forcibly evicted us, we tailgated so long afterwards. Oh, and this occurred:
(stevo) (goes into port-a-potty)
(stevo) (hurls on smelling inside of port-a-potty)
(stevo) (finally manages to pee)
(stevo) (walks out)
(chick waiting for port-a-potty) how drunk are you, d*ckhead! To ruin the pot for the rest of us!
(stevo) (actually sober and now p*ssed off) Yeah? You step inside and tell me I caused that!
(chick) (opens door)
(chick) sorry. That’s awful!
(stevo) good luck holding it down, b*tch!
(dude with chick) Did you just call my girl a b*tch?
(stevo) uuh, no .. I said chick. Chick!
(dude with chick) oh, ok …
(*: THE high point of the Vermeil years, was seven days later. “The Stand”. Excuse me, “The Stand”!!!!!!!!!!!!! SCREW YOU denver! SCREW YOU!!!! Oh, and mike? How’s that post-elway career going? Another loss? Shocking! My God, I hate the denver broncos …)
In 2004, an awful Chiefs squad hosted the Pats on a late November Monday night … and lost inside the last two minutes, 27-19.
In 2002, a mediocre Chiefs squad went to New England as a 15 point underdog … and lost in overtime, 41-38.
In 2000, two awful squads faced off at Foxboro on an early December Monday night … and the Pats won when the Chiefs final pass was intercepted in the end zone, 30-24 final.
Almost a year earlier, on a perfect early October Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead (I think I still am sunburned from how perfect that day was), the Chiefs led the Patriots 16-14 with :02 left. I’m sure you’re thinking “ballgame”. Yes, it should have been … for the Patriots. As Adam Vinatieri lined up for a 22 yard field goal into the east end zone, with that :02 left. I was sitting in 109 that day with my buddy Jasson*, and to say I was bracing for the defeat, is an understatement. I started chugging every last drop remaining in the flask, grabbed my t-shirt and DT jersey**, and was ready to storm out in anger.
(*: “The Ex” honestly thought that’s how you spelled Jason’s name, “Jasson”, until a couple weeks ago. Three years of thinking Randy and Linda were too stupid to figure out how to spell Jason on the birth certificate. In her defense …)
(**: I used to wear a jersey to every home game, up until four years ago, when I realized, “wait a second” … in 99 I wore DT’s jersey. He died. Wore it for a couple years after that, then wore Shaun Barber’s jersey when we signed him in 03. He sucked. Then switched to DJ in 05 … and we pissed away a gimme wildcard berth. Never again. Never again.)
Anyways, my perfect early October afternoon, pushing 80 degrees (the official game recap at nfl.com notes it was 79 degrees, 8 mph wind, with 78 % humidity, sweet Jesus, can we get that for Sunday night? Please?), anyways, the Pats lined up for a glorified extra point to win the game.
And Vinatieri shanked it.
Even the blowouts are memorable – in 1998, when we lost 42-14 in Foxboro, it was the infamous “Whitlock suspended two weeks without pay” game, as (at the time) KC Star columnist Jason Whitlock simply stated the obvious on a sign he held up in the press box that (sadly) the CBS cameras caught: “Bledsoe gay? Pats Suck!” I love biased commentators.
My long-winded point is this, and it’s three pointed:
1. The Patriots aren’t as good as you think they are.
2. Tyler Palko isn’t as sh*tty as you fear he is. And
3. If ANYONE in this league can rally this team, in this spot, to deliver the performance of a lifetime, it’s a man I once “affectionately” dubbed “Coach Asshat”.
As wrong as I (might have been, the jury’s still out) about Coach Herm? I was even more (no doubt about it) wrong about “Coach Asshat”. God bless it, I freaking love Todd Haley. Screw it, I LOVE Todd Haley. I have a man crush the size of Australia on that guy. I have rarely if ever been more wrong in my initial read on a person. If ANYONE is going to have a two touchdown underdog prepped for war tonight, it’s Todd Haley.
Coach will have his boys ready to fight. So tonight, if you’re watching from a couch in WyCo, a bar in Waldo, pacing the floor in Raytown (hey, that’s me!), or rubbing in the upset of a lifetime in beautiful Gering, Nebraska, make some noise. Believe in this team. Do they deserve that belief, that trust? Probably not.
But what the hell.
Next week is the fail-safe, Chiefs fans. Win or lose tonight, next Sunday is the line in the sand. And I hope and trust each and every one of you will be out there to play some beer pong come 5pm next Sunday night. (Or, if I get my way, “vodka tonic pong”).
Until then, enjoy this week. My “favorite post of the year” is coming at some point later this week, and man, does this thing keep getting longer every year. Which is a very good thing. Eat some turkey, or (in my family’s case) eat some lasagna, plow through the Franzia and cheesecake, and …
You know what? Screw it.
Chiefs (+14 ½) 30, at Patriots 27, on a 29 yard Ryan “Mr. Irrelevant” Succup field goal as time expires. I still believe in this team. When this game ends, I hope they give you a reason to push the chips to the middle of the table, push the chair back, stand up, pull the sunglasses down, and say “gentlemen, I’m all in”. Or at least an excuse to show up next Sunday night, as for the first time since my 21st birthday, the NBC crew is in town to broadcast a game. (And no matter WHAT happens, it cannot POSSIBLY be worse than what happened that cold January day in 1998.)
Because playoff-caliber teams that switch to a no-name quarterback who’s never started a game before are screwed, right? No chance, right?
(looks across the sideline to see tonight’s opponent …)
Oh, wait a second. The 2001 Patriots did that. How’d that switch work out for them?
(cue Adam Vinatieri drilling a 47 yarder as time expires as the Superdome in arguably the greatest Super Bowl ever staged ...)