Monday, October 21, 2013

chiefs! texans! where "because more than ever" happens ...

“Don’t wish it away;
Don’t look at it,
Like it’s forever.

Between you and me?
I could honestly say,
That things can only get better.

And while I’m away?
Dust out the demons inside,
And it won’t be long

Before you and me run,
To the place in our hearts,
Where we hide.

And I guess that’s why they call it the blues –
Time on my hands, could be time spent with you.
Laughing like children, living like lovers,
Rolling like thunder under the covers!
And I guess that’s why they call it the blues …”


--------------------

(opening comment from me: this is amazingly enough, post 700 on this site.  Incredible.  Sorry, but that seemed kinda cool to me; figured I'd point it out.  If only so that one day, when the county is certifying me and determining which insane asylum to commit me to, they'll know exactly how many "pieces of evidence" can be entered against me ...)

--------------------

I attended a wedding on Saturday, in which the bride and groom were officially presented to the world as mister and misses, to "Your Song".

The final song that played on the Mixology list from Sunday, at pushing 7:30pm in a still crowded Lot G parking lot, an hour after the Chiefs had delivered one of -- if not THE -- single greatest fourth quarter performances in franchise history, was "Levon".

And yet ... this is the Elton John song that perfectly hit me, when sitting down to begin the recap at pushing 9pm last night.

For one line.

(Pause).  What?  (Pause).  Well of course I'm not revealing that right off the bat!  Good grief, Ms. Non-Existent Stevo's Site Numero Dos Editor Dudette!  You're more daffy and clueless than Joe Biden, if you think I'm giving away the punch line four paragraphs in!

--------------------

For fifty eight minutes and twenty seconds, the Houston Texans had played a damned near flawless ballgame.  I cannot compliment Gary Kubiak -- a man whose coaching acumen routinely gets mocked on this site -- I cannot compliment the Texans offensive gameplan enough.  It was brilliant.  And "brilliant" is not a word I toss around lightly, or that I prefer to use when describing someone who started an AFC Championship Game for Satan's Team (1991, at Buffalo).  But that gameplan yesterday was brilliant.  (As always, more below).

And Son of Bum's Boyz came ready to play on the defensive side of the ball as well.  They stopped the Chiefs on their last four drives -- a three and out, the goalline stand, another punt, and an interception.  Despite losing their two finest players in Brian Cushing (thanks to a gruesome injury that might be career threatening) and JJ Watt (for a couple plays), the Texans stood their ground. 

Rudyard Kipling once wrote that "if you can keep your head about you while all those around you are losing theirs", that yours is the Earth.  For fifty eight minutes and twenty seconds yesterday, the Houston Texans marched into the lunatic asylum that is Arrowhead Stadium, and did a fine job of keeping their wits about them, while 78,000 plus were doing everything imaginable, to make them lose it.

For fifty eight minutes and twenty seconds, the Houston Texans were holding their own.  The had weathered a ferocious Chiefs defense, a relentless partisan crowd that was beyond ready from moment one yesterday, and were not just holding their own, not just managing the battle, they had a damned decent shot at winning the war.

But then came minute fifty eight, second twenty one, of the sixty minutes of meaningful football played yesterday.

The Texans' last play from scrimmage.

--------------------

I sat in my old seat yesterday.  That final play unfolded right in front of me.  If you were in that stadium yesterday, you know how loud it was all game long, especially in the fourth quarter.  The feeling, the electricity, good God -- it was emotional in there.  That fourth quarter yesterday was insane.  Everyone in that stadium knew -- knew! -- after the Texans stood on 4th and goal, that the defense was going to have to win the game.  Everyone in that stadium knew -- knew! -- that for the defense to win, we had to make the difference.  And so we went to work. 

--------------------

The way that final meaningful play unfolded, I swear to God Himself -- it was like the whole thing was unfolding in super slow motion.  You could see Tamba Hali racing around the right tackle.  You could see Mr. Keenum feel the pressure. 

And the noise!  In the words of the great Dan Dierdorf: "what a wild scene this is!"  There isn't a seatback in the lower bowl that isn't bloodied, beaten, black and blue this morning.  Those poor things have to look worse than Nicole Brown Simpson after OJ spent a night "expressing how much love" he had for her.  It was so loud preceding that play, that Chris leaned around to shout something to me, and to this moment, I have no idea what she said.  She was literally screaming in my ear from two inches away, and I have no damned clue what she said.

And when Mr. Hali got there, and just leveled Case Keenum, damned near decapitated that poor man ... as the football came out of Mr. Keenum's hands, and lay on the turf, and DJ fell on it at the one yard line?

I'll just put it this way: if Arrowhead hit 137.5 decibels last Sunday (and it didn't)?

Then that entire sequence, from when Case Keenum's first down pass fell incomplete, until Alex Smith knelt for the third time, hit a bare minimum of 206 on the Decibel-o-Meter.  (Or whatever the hell the device that measures things in decibels, is called.)

I can confirm to you, that at 1:30 on Monday afternoon, I still can't hear properly.  My ears are still ringing.  My hands hurt.  Not "I had them on the push mower handle for three hours and they sting" hurt -- hurt, as in "ouch!  No, really -- ouch!" hurt.  It wouldn't shock me to learn the second finger on my left hand is broken -- it's swollen, I can't straighten it out, and it's really making this post a pain in the ass to type right now.  I have no discernable finger nails left; they were gone by midway through the third quarter, bitten off one stressful moment at a time.  My voice is shot.  I have the weirdest sounding voice known to man anyway, but it hurts to talk, and my voice is at least two octaves lower than it usually is.  (Cue the "hey, Stevo finally hit puberty!" wisecracks in three, two ...)

And I can't wait to feel this way again, forty one days from today, in what is shaping up as not just the biggest regular season contest the American Football Conference will stage this season, but possibly the biggest regular season game in the history of this franchise.

Take a bow, Arrowhead Nation.  Job perfectly done.

Because yesterday, that place wasn't Arrowhead.

It truly was Terrorhead again.

(Cue Case Keenum nodding very, very strongly, in agreeing with that last statement ...)

--------------------

I know, I know.  I can hear the critics warming up now.  "Stop being so analytical Stevo!  I hate statistics!  They're boring!  Write something funny, not nerdy dude!"  Well, fine.  I'll limit it to just one statistic from yesterday, that provides a window into what we -- the fans, and this team -- created and caused yesterday.

The Texans took over with 13:43 to play, after the Chiefs failed to score on 4th and goal at the one yard line.  (A play I agreed with; you absolutely try to secure overtime in that spot.)

They had four chances, trailing 17-16, to win the game.  All they needed was a field goal.  Considering one of the four drives started at their own 41 yard line, all they really needed was twenty five yards to try the field goal.

Instead, they got this:

* Drive one: six plays, positive thirty yards, punt.
* Drive two: four plays, negative eighteen yards, punt.
* Drive three: four plays, negative four yards, punt.
* Drive four, two plays, negative nine yards, turnover.

Total: 16 plays, 1 first down, -1 yards.

No, really -- read that last line again.

Sixteen plays.  Negative yardage.

To once again quote Stevo's Site Numero Dos' favorite NFL color commentator: "Lord, you can take me now, I have seen it all!"

--------------------

We left for the stadium a little before 8am.  As I recall, there were eight of us on the Bus: myself, Russ and Mona, Susan, Tony and Noah, and Anthony and Jaimmie.

I thought leaving that early for a 3:25pm kickoff, even with the early-in pass, was a bit ridiculous.  Look it, I'm all for getting my drink on in a parking lot, especially on those beautiful Sunday mornings in mid-August when it's so warm at 10am, that the mere idea of wearing a t-shirt seems like the dumbest idea imaginable.  But I have to admit, I thought leaving seven hours early for a game, was either (a) foolish, or (b) stupid.  Surely we wouldn't have to wait in line.  No way, no way we are anything but the first person in line.

We got to the early-in gate near Gate 6 a little before 8:15.

We were not first in line.

And a look to the west, confirmed Gate 6 was already five cars deep in every line, waiting to get in.

Waiting to get in, at 8:15 in the morning, for a 3:25 kickoff, when the gates don't open for another hour and a half.

(Pause).  You're damned right the parking nazis had to open the gates before the posted opening time, due to traffic issues.  And not just the regular gates -- oh no.

The early in line, was backed onto Stadium Drive, by 8:30 in the morning, when the "let 'em in!" command, was delivered.

The early in gate, was supposed to open at 9am, for the record.

--------------------

The menu yesterday was pretty decent.  Buddy burgers, smoked baked beans, potato soup, plus assorted chips, dips, and desserts.  Ron and his crew brought -- hang on, I have to do this right.  Is he available, Ms. Editor Dudette?  He is?  Spectacular!

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming, live from Harry's Saloon in Heaven, Mr. William Grigsby!!!

(mr. william grigsby voice) Ron brought a Prrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrresidential Platter from Gates!

Thank you sir.  And may I say, I hope heaven let you enjoy those ice cubes provided by Mountain Valley Spring Water in all your favorite libations.

Tony also brought a shrimp and crab platter that was pretty damned decent, actually.  I have my doubts about those things, and I say this as someone who'd eat glue if you told me it was a form of seafood.  (Then again, if you handed me gasoline and told me it was alcohol, I'd at least try it, so I'm not sure that says anything positive about me.)

The bloody mary's were phenomenal.  The champagne went down smoothly.  The cranberry and vodka mixer I switched to after lunch was sweet and potent. 

About the only thing that sucked -- and again, as I just noted, I'd try gasoline at least once, if someone convinced me it was alcohol -- was the vanilla vodka shooters Anthony brought.

There's only one time in my life, when I've tried a liquor I've never had before, that I've instantaneously felt the need to vomit, and that was when some dude handed my brother and I a bottle of room-temperature Montezuma tequila at a Royals / Cardinals game tailgate back in 2005.  By "room temperature", that would be about ninety degrees, and quite frankly, they could have chilled that bottle to the freezing point, and I still would have instantly puked that stuff back up, it's so nasty.

I managed to hold the vanilla vodka down ... but barely.

I'm never making that mistake again.

--------------------

Not really much to report from the tailgate.  Footballs were tossed.  Cornhole was played.  Beer was consumed.  Food was eaten.  Music was playing.

Roger hauled the flat screen out and had the Jets / Patriots game on.

You couldn't have asked for a better day.  Well, ok, I could have -- the wind could have been a little more toned down, and the temperature could have been about thirty degrees higher.  But other than that?

Mr. Reason or Jasson can back me up on this, but the weather conditions yesterday -- and this doesn't happen often?  This was a Danny Darrell Memorial Game.

About 11:30 or so, the parking situation in Lot G officially devolved into a disaster.  The line to get in was simply not moving.  So folks started taking matters into their own hands.  They just pulled out of line and set up shop wherever they wanted to.  It was like 1996 all over again.  And that's a good thing.

Gang?  11:30am, Lot G was a circus backed up to the G30 sign (where the lot turns to form the exit / entrance lanes), filled in back to the G30 sign (again, where the lot begins to shrink, to allow the access / exit points to occur).  

Let that sink in -- FOUR HOURS before kickoff, the west side of the Truman Sports Complex was out of parking.

Holy God.

--------------------

Had a nice conversation with The Voice of Reason and his dad, as well as Jasson.  Those are always a good thing.  Honestly, this whole weekend was one pleasant experience.  I do not recall the last time a three, four, five day stretch of my life, actually felt this good.  It's been a long damned time.

I mean, here's how great a run the "post-Dad dying for ten minutes" era has been: I even managed to conduct a ten minute conversation with the Champ and the Chica on Saturday, that (a) didn't insult, offend, disrespect or hurt me, and (b) didn't end with me wanting to tell them to do something to themselves, that is anatomically impossible.

It's been at least the middle of February, since (a) and (b) applied to not just a conversation, but any kind of interaction, with them.  

The two of them were not just pleasant, polite, and respectful for the most part ...

... they acted like a friend, would act to another friend.

Circle me stunned, Bert.  

In permanent marker.

With every highlighter known to man, to boot.

--------------------

But the highlight, without question, was the return of a man ... and not just a man, dammit.  He is more than a man, more than a myth, even more than a legend.  For years -- and we're talking multiple decades here -- this man has literally been the toast of our part of Arrowhead.  He doesn't make it out much anymore (I'm going with "under house arrest for $800, Alex"), but when he does grace us with his presence, it's always special.

I noticed him a little after 1:30.  I'd walked away from the TV since the Jets were at the half, and because I needed a refill of my libation.  The dude has lost weight.  A ton of weight.  The dude looks older.  He's dyed his hair, and cut it shorter; it's not pepper gray and stringy anymore.  But the moment I saw him, I knew ... as did everyone else sitting in the open area, enjoying the sun.

Mona said it first.  "Is it really him?"  He really did look that different.  So Russ did what any reasonable person in this spot would do -- call out the guy's name, and see if he responds.

And the second this giant turned around, saw who was yelling at him, and flashed that smile to reveal the grillz as only he can, this day went from really pleasant, to phenomenally so.

Yes, for the first time since at least late 2011, Castro was in the building.

Well, the parking lot, but you get the picture.

And then the big, lovable dude did what he does best: waddled across the street, lugging a couple cases of Bud Light loaded with tequila bottles, to share with anyone who wanted to do a shot with him. 

To quote the great Dan Dierdorf: "we've seen it before."

To quote the not-so-great Frank Gifford: "oh yeah!"

Man, Patron is good stuff.

--------------------

Security was much, much better this week.  The lines actually moved.  And it was reflected in the stands as well -- the lower bowl was nearly filled twenty minutes before kickoff, and the upper deck looked well populated as well.

There was a lot of weird stuff yesterday when it came to the usual game day events.  Susan thought the kickoff shift probably caused that, and I'm inclined to concur, but man, was yesterday different.

For starters, there was no halftime.  Well, I mean, there was a halftime, but there was no event.  No Jazzercise, no Frisbee Dogs, no Pee Wee League teams scrimmaging, not even the Mayor's Ethnic Enrichment Council trotting out a couple minorities to do some native dance from a country nobody has ever heard of.

Secondly, there was no flyover.  Me, I loved that, because I irrationally hate flyovers.  But it was still weird.  You grow accustomed to the way things work, when they work a certain way over the decades.  We've become trained as fans to look to the east end zone when the National Anthem hits its climactic moments.  This week, nothing approached.

Third, and man, this one is tough for me to type, but given what a jovial mood I'm in, and how pleasant the last few days have been, maybe this shouldn't be unexpected ... but ... I sorta ... kinda ... oh man, this is painful, and I mean painful, to type ... but I actually ... enjoyed ... and laughed ... wow, I cannot believe I'm going to admit this ... hang on, let me swallow hard here to brace myself for what is about to hit my screen ...

... but I actually dug KC Wolf's sketch yesterday.

I will grant you, it was a typically awful KC Wolf sketch.  We have seen these things played out week, after week, after week, and they're always the same -- mean-spirited visiting fans (pick one) taunt / insult / hurt / steal from Mr. Wolf.  Mr. Wolf gets angry, visiting fans take off.  Mr. Wolf finds a conveniently placed ATV machine, chases the mean-spirited visitors onto the field, then performs a couple suplexes, pile drivers, and clotheslines on said mean-spirited visitors, before taking back his pride or material possessions that those mean-spirited visitors took from him, and riding off on that conveniently placed ATV machine to some crappy late 1970s rock song.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

But this week's actually made me laugh.  I have no idea why, but it did.

And finally, in what might actually be the first genuine "what are the (blanking) odds?" coincidence of my lifetime, someone not named Ida McBeth, Patti DiParto-Livergood, or the Reverend Hal Weeks performed the National Anthem ... and was quite good at it.  I have no idea who this chick was (apparently she won "The Voice" last year), but it was a thoroughly enjoyable rendition.  So I update my proposal from a couple weeks ago: still rotate between Ms. McBeth, Ms. DiParto-Livergood, and Rev. Weeks, but if this chick wants to steal the tenth game away from David Cook, I'm cool with it.

--------------------

So, let's hit the recap, because there's lots in here to talk about.  Not the least of which is the fourth quarter defense.

As always, for at least some accuracy in reporting, I do cheat to get down / distance and time from the NFL.com GameCenter.

* Chiefs win the toss, choose to receive.  It works for me.

* Unfortunately, it didn't help.  The Chiefs went three and out after a quick false start penalty on Eric Fisher.  So, let's deal with the elephant in the room right up front, shall we?  Eric Fisher is in over his head.  Now, this doesn't mean that two, three, four years down the road, this will be a Trezelle Jenkins-esque gaffe in the first round, but at this moment, Eric Fisher has as much legitimate business being on a football field, as I do conducting an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.  This is going to bite us in the ass at some point.  The offense struggles to get anything going, because (a) Alex Smith is running for his life every other snap, and (b) Eric Fisher is committing some stupid gaffe to cost us yardage every other snap.

Furthermore, his run blocking is, to be polite, TURRIBLE.  Courtesy the GameCenter, here's what the Chiefs gained running right yesterday:

* 1st and 10: gained one.
* 1st and goal: gained one, touchdown.
* 2nd and 9: gained four, lost fumble.

And that's it.  Three rushes for six yards, a lost fumble, and the touchdown was scored because it was first and goal at the one.  For the record, the Chiefs ran the ball 32 times yesterday, for 126 yards.  Which means 29 of those attempts, for 120 of the yards, was run behind the threesome of Albert / Asomoah / Hudson.  The Chiefs are literally ceding a third to half of the field when they run the ball, because Mr. Fisher is such a liability right now.  This, folks, is no bueno.  And it is going to bite us in the ass, if Mr. Fisher doesn't improve in a hurry.

Or, to quote my buddy Pickell, "put it this way": if Eric Fisher can't maintain his composure, and can't block worth a damn in front of the home crowd?  How is he going to handle fake mile high in four weeks?  How is he going to handle Fake RFK in two months?  How is he going to handle the black hole, or our personal house of horror, The Ralph?

* After a poor Dusty C punt, the Texans take over in business near midfield, and immediately drive forty yards, culminating in a field goal to grab the early lead, 3-0.  It was on this drive that I noticed something, and if you were stuck by me yesterday, I apologize for hammering this home again, but Gary Kubiak's gameplan yesterday, at least early on, was brilliant.  It was outstanding.  When he dropped Mr. Keenum back to pass, there was no surveying the field, there was no checks or reads, there was honestly little to no risk.  Step one, step two, step three, throw.  Lather, rinse, repeat. 

The Chiefs were playing a lot of man yesterday in the first half.  (Which is nothing new; I would guess we play man coverage at least 65% of the time, and that number is probably low.)  But against the Texans' gameplan, the Chiefs D was not in a good position.  By the time the Chiefs defense could begin defending the receiver, the ball was already in their hands.  Again, I cannot compliment the Texans' gameplan before halftime enough. 

* The Chiefs defensive scheme in that first half, however … let’s just say, Bob’s Boyz didn’t actually adjust and account for the attack they were facing.  And again, I’m praising Gary Kubiak.  That plan was genius.  It was outstanding.  It shielded Case Keenum’s biggest weaknesses – lack of experience, lack of protection.  I also loved how Gary Kubiak basically decided from moment one “screw it; we’re pounding it with Arian Foster until he can’t go anymore”, which occurred early in the second quarter.  But it got the Texans the start they needed, to grab a couple first half leads.

* Ensuing kickoff, the Chiefs take over at their eighteen, and immediately face a 3rd and 9.  Most of the time, the obvious rebuttal is “God bless it, this offense is craptacular!”  Only, for the first time in a while, Doug Peterson took a few risks.  Namely, he had Alex Smith air it out for Dwayne Bowe on 2nd down.  The pass was incomplete, but … how to put this properly.

OK, let me try this.  View football like a chess match.  The person who wins at chess, tends to be the person who outthinks his opponent.  If your opponent has thought out three moves ahead, then you have to think four moves out.  The bomb to Bowe opened up the short passing game, because now the Texans have to take the fifteen yard out pattern / crossing routes credibly.  They can’t cram 8 or 9 in the box, and get away with it.

On that 3rd and 9, Alex Smith hit a simple checkdown to Bowe, who took it 21 yards for the first down.  Remember this play – another thing I love about this current regime, and despised about the last two head coaches and their playcallers, is that “Fat” Andy and Doug Peterson aren’t afraid to run the same play twice if it works.  Chan Gailey is known for literally scratching the play out once he calls it.  Chuck Weis and Brian Daboll preferred to keep diversifying things.  Bill Muir couldn’t spell cat if you spotted him the c and the a, but he too rarely recycled a play inside a game.

So remember this play.  It will factor in majorly, in about three more pages or so.

* The Chiefs are in business.  Thanks to a roughing the passer penalty and a couple completions to guys who rarely touch the ball (Mr.’s Sherman and Fasano), the Chiefs have first and goal at the one in the east end zone.

The very next play, a simple handoff right.  As I texted immediately afterwards:

(pat summerall voice) Charles.  Standing up.

God above, how I miss Patrick J. Summerall.

I can only imagine how horrific hearing Jim “Hello Friends” Nantz and Phil “My Son Has Kyle Shanahan’s Name Tattooed On His Calf” Simms, had to be for those of you watching your television sets yesterday.

* Texans take over, trailing 7-3, and this (to this point) entertaining contest, just got a helluva lot more interesting.

Because the Kubiak Gameplan’s best execution all day, was on this drive.

On second down, Case Keenum hits a sweet short pass to the back, and there goes Posey.  Forty two yards and three plays later, the Texans open the fourth quarter with a 3rd and 3 at the Chiefs 29.  This time, Keenum actually drops five steps, and throws a gorgeous – and I mean gorgeous – throw to the end zone.  It was so sweet and effective, that Brandon Flowers was flagged for pass interference, and the Chiefs still couldn’t stop it.

Call me a dreamer, and say I’m a little naïve … but when you’re cheating, and it still isn’t helping?

You might want to rethink the gameplan.

Texans 10, Chiefs 7, early 2nd.

* The Chiefs take over, but can’t do anything with the ball.  Cue up one helluva sweet punt by Dusty C, who bombs it 62 yards, inside the Houston ten yard line.

Dusty C’s first punt yesterday was atrocious.  Every other one was a thing of beauty.

Especially the last one.  (Keep reading; we’ll get there eventually.  You have my promise.  And since you’re paying $0.00 for the privilege of reading this, why not slow take, take your time, and enjoy the read?)

* This next Texans drive, wow.  I mean, this is the drive I was having a serious meltdown in 132 over.  Case Keenum was carving this defense up at will.  This is the point that finally everyone around me saw what I’d been seeing and noting up to this point.  The Texans march sixty yards to the Chiefs 37, and face a fourth down.

Now, if I’m going to actually praise Gary Kubiak for something, then I suppose I might as well note, when Gary Kubiak coaches like … well, Gary Kubiak.

Gar?  Ol’ Gar?  Ol’ buddy, ol’ pal, ol’ amigo, ol’ descomisado?

YOU’RE TWO AND FOUR!

You try the 55 yarder EVERY DAMNED TIME!

You have a kicker with the leg to make it.  The wind is at your back (Texans were driving into the east end zone).  And again – you’re TWO AND FOUR!  If you can steal this game, you had a decent chance to be playing to virtually move into first place next week against the Colts.  (Thankfully, that didn’t work out – Houston lost, and Indy won.)

I mean, if EVER there is a moment to kick the 55 yarder, isn’t that it?  You’re facing the best defense in the League.  It hasn’t allowed more than 17 points in a game this season.  (And after yesterday, it still hasn’t.)  The odds are, you’re going to have to top twenty, to win this contest.  You’re barely twenty minutes in, and already both teams are on the board.  You HAVE to try to get the points.

Ol’ Gar sent in the punter.

Gutless, chicken sh*t football.  I despise it.

* Also gotta say, Brandon Tate impressed me yesterday.  I thought he did a perfectly adequate and serviceable job filling in when Arian Foster went down.  Tate’s numbers: 15 carries, 50 yards, along with 2 catches for 5 more.

* Shane Lechler’s punt was gorgeous.  Nine times out of ten in that spot, the punter’s putting it in the end zone.  It’s only a 37 yarder to get there, after all.

Lechler had that bad boy perfectly downed at the Chiefs three.  Circle me impressed.

And also circle me befuddled at times yesterday; the picture of Shane Lechler in something other than the hideous silver and black, is pretty strange to look at.

* So the Chiefs take over at their own three, with a little over seven minutes to go until halftime, down 10-7.  To this point, they’ve had one decent drive (the Charles touchdown), and absolutely nothing else.  Only one first down outside of that scoring drive, in fact.

Which is what I’m really starting to dig about this team, in some regards.  Yes, there are times the offense looks more futile than my Jets Madden offenses back in the day.  (Let’s just say, if I had been Curtis Martin’s real-life offensive coordinator, he wouldn’t have lasted until the 2008 season.  He’d have been done by 2003.)

So when this team does get something going, when they do get some momentum and get rolling?

They tend to finish the job.

Cue up a (get ready) fifteen play, ninety seven yard drive, that culminates with one of the weirdest touchdowns you will ever see, that bled the clock to less than a minute to play, and sent the Chiefs to the locker room with a lead they’d never relinquish.

The drive opened with a false start on Anthony Sherman.  Ooh, penalize us a yard, Ed.  Please.

After a Charles run gets back the yard lost to the false start, Alex Smith begins to take over.  A nice pass to Anthony Fasano.  A great third down toss to a wide open Dwayne Bowe for fifteen.  A nice checkdown to Jamaal Charles for nine, followed by a stunning no-huddle snap.  A couple nice conversions to Donnie Avery to keep the chains moving.

Culminating with a 3rd and 1 at the Houston 5, as the clock hit a minute to play.

Alex Smith swears this was a designed play.  I call bullsh*t.  I guarantee you Jamaal Charles cut the wrong way.  Because it clearly looked like Alex was looking to hand the ball off to someone.

Instead, he recovers, and does to the Texans what we Chiefs fans have seen Gary Kubiak’s previous employer do to us so many damned times, be it with elway, kubiak, brister, griese, plummer, orton, cutler, or the m&m boys: bootleg left.  Untouched.  Touchdown, Chiefs.

* As mentioned, there was no halftime.  I headed up to the bathroom, had a couple minutes talking to Ron in the line, then hit the bar for the Jacked Up. 

And for what it’s worth, all four people who sampled the Jacked Up yesterday, agree with me: that might be THE best cocktail, that has ever been offered for sale at One Arrowhead Drive.  That’s gonna be my drink for tailgating next week, and trust me folks – you want to try one of these.  Two shots of Jack.  Two shots of SoCo.  And a splash of Coke, with a lime.

* You're damned right, I'm bringing a plastic pint of half SoCo / half Jack, next week.  A large Coke is barely half what the Jacked Up costs on its own.

* The Texans open the half with a punt, and the Chiefs do them one better – they skip the middle man, and just give the Texans the ball at their own 28 via a Jamaal Charles fumble.  Remember – this is one of only three plays the Chiefs ran behind Eric Fisher yesterday, as noted a couple chapters ago.

* The Texans come out firing.  Keenum deep to a receiver, setting the Texans up at the one.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  When you get a turnover?

You go for the jugular.

The Texans did.

Barely four minutes into the second half, and already they’re knocking at the gates.

First and goal, at the one.

This drive was headed into the west end zone, where Section 132 is, where I was sitting yesterday, where I've sat for so many moments of my life. 

I’ve always felt, especially when there’s a first down close to the goalline, that the first play sets the tone.  The Chiefs fans were ready.  Trust me – we let Case Keenum know we were there.  But you’d expect that.  It’s a natural reaction – you get loud when the other team is knocking at the door in front of you.

But if you can stand on first down, then you give the crowd a real reason to make their presence known.

On first down, Case Keenum did what I would have done in that spot: keep it and fall forward.  You’re at the one.  Just snap it and if you get any kind of a surge, you’re in.

The Chiefs defensive line didn’t yield an inch. 

On second down, the Texans went the more conventional route, handing the ball off to the fullback.  The Chiefs once again did not yield an inch.  They actually did one better – they tackled the fullback for a two yard loss. 

Now, the crowd senses it.  If we hold here, we escape a potentially killer turnover still holding the lead.  I can promise you, it was louder at that moment than it was with :46 remaining in last week’s game. 

Keenum takes the snap, and nothing.  There is NOBODY open.  Bob Sutton gambled big time on that down.  He left no safety support.  It was pure man coverage, with an all out blitz from the front seven.  You had to shut your guy down long enough to force an incompletion, or long enough to let the surging wall in front of you sack the quarterback.  The gamble worked; Keenum’s pass fell harmlessly to the ground in the face of relentless pressure from Justin Houston.  Kubiak (I believe correctly) opted to take the points.  14-13 Chiefs, with a little under 25 minutes to go.

* The ensuing Chiefs drive, begins with a sweet Quentin Demps return to set the Chiefs up at midfield.  And after a gorgeous Alex Smith sprint for twenty, with a personal foul tacked on to boot, the Chiefs face goal to go for the third time in the game.

Let that sink in, Chiefs fans.  For all the b*tching about the offense, we’re barely six minutes into the second half, and for the third time, the Chiefs have goal to go.  They’d get one more before the game was over.  I can’t speak for you, but for me?  If the Chiefs get goal-to-go four times a week?  We’re winning nine out of ten, in that spot.  If you are consistently putting yourself in a position to where only utter disaster keeps you from scoring points, you’re going to have favorable outcomes.

In this case, the favorable outcome was a Ryan Succup field goal, to march the lead back to four at 17-13.

But the biggest play on the drive, was on second and goal, a handoff to fullback Anthony Sherman designed to catch the Texans off guard (Charles was the blocker, not Sherman).

Because this is the play in which the Texans’ outstanding linebacker Brian Cushing, saw his season come to a painful end, via a broken leg and torn ligaments in the knee on a cutback block by Jamaal Charles.

Some folks have insinuated this is a dirty play.  And even if it is (I’d argue it is, for what it’s worth)?

Gary Kubiak made his name, made his career, running the cut block scheme in denver.  His team will get no sympathy from me; only God can count the number of seasons this dirty blocking scheme has ended.

Still though, you hate to see a guy go down like that, go out like that. 

* And, like clockwork, the Texans’ gameplan was firing on all cylinders after the kickoff, as Case Keenum nailed a gorgeous forty yard bomb to Andre Johnson to open the Texans drive.  A couple of plays later, the Texans drilled their third field goal of the day, and their second of the half, to cut the lead to one once again at 17-16.

The Chiefs take over at their own thirteen, up one, with a little over four minutes to play in the quarter.  They begin the drive in my end zone, the west end.  And very quickly, the Chiefs find themselves in a 3rd and 21 at their own 22, as the clock nears the end of the third quarter.

THIS … is the moment I was referencing, all those pages ago, regarding Dwayne Bowe’s reception early in the game.  Recycling a play that works.

Al Saunders, who in my opinion is the brightest offensive mind not named “Hank Stram” that this franchise has ever employed, is the only coordinator the Chiefs have had that I can think of, who didn’t have a problem recycling what worked earlier in the game.  His philosophy (as is mine), is that you hit your opponent with it, until they stop it.  Make them figure you out.  Make them shut you down.  

Don’t do it for them.

Because on 3rd and 21, Alex Smith hit the short wide receiver dump off, this time to Dexter McCluster, that Dwayne Bowe ran to perfection forty minutes earlier.  Dex did even better, gaining 42 yards, pulling the Chiefs into field goal range, and even though the drive died when the Chiefs couldn’t convert 4th and goal from the one, it accomplished a few things –

* It swung field position.  This would prove to be huge, as the Texans would never again cross midfield, and wouldn’t come closer than seven yards to it.

* It bled the clock.  The Chiefs D was exhausted.  They’d been on the field for most of the second half.  The six minute drive the Chiefs put together (across quarters to boot, earning even more rest), most assuredly played a huge role in the final stands about to occur.

But most importantly – and I will grant you, this is solely my opinion, and my opinion alone …

* Going for that 4th and goal, is the moment the fans in that stadium, bought into the “Fat” Andy Reid era, bought hook, line and sinker into what the Chiefs are selling.

It’s the moment the fanbase became believers.

It made the season real.  It let us know that our coaching staff is so confident in not just the defense, but in us the fans to be the difference, that they’ll eschew the gimme three, and go for the back-breaking seven, because even if it ends in failure (as it did), we’ll just stop them, get the ball back, and try again, because there’s no team in the League that can overcome this defense, coupled with this crowd.

For this season, at least, the Kingdom believes that greatness is achievable.

You want to know the last time I truly felt this way about a Chiefs team?  That for this season, they are good enough to be the last team standing come the first Sunday in February?

Was Week Thirteen, 2005.  “The Stand”, when the Chiefs challenged the spot against denver on 4th and 2, and won it.

It’s been eight years since I believed the Chiefs were good enough, to bring Lamar’s Trophy home.

I do now.  As does damned near every other person there yesterday.

Because the truth is?

They ARE good enough, to not just bring Lamar’s Trophy home, but we’ll grab that Lombardi fellow’s namesake to boot.

* It is impossible to describe how loud that stadium got, from the 4th down attempt onward, other than to say, it was indescribable.  If you were there, you get it.  (bob saget voice) That, kids, is what Terrorhead is.  A place so fearful, that a team like the Texans, who had been moving the ball at will all afternoon long, wound up with negative yardage in the fourth quarter of a one point game.

You don’t believe me?  Scroll back up to the top.  The Texans ran sixteen plays in the fourth quarter.  They posted negative one yards, with three punts and a fumble to boot.

A one point game, and they couldn’t do a thing – because our defense is this good, because Arrowhead is this imposing, because we are that loud, we do make that big of a difference.

* My favorite comment of the day, goes to The Voice of Reason, who spent yesterday’s game with his dad in a suite in the club level they used to sit in, before the Chiefs kicked every loyal fan in that level to the curb in favor of the almighty dollar:

“I’m looking forward to being back in my seat next week, where you actually make noise pounding the seat in front of you.  The seats in club level don’t make noise; they’re too padded.  Not that I didn’t try.”

* Not much to report afterward (and I’m skipping ahead for a reason, because I want to close in a specific way).  We headed back to the bus.  I had a couple frosty cold Coors Lights.  We waited out the traffic.  A ceiling was danced on.

I got home a little before 8:30, took a shower, poured a glass of wine and started on this recap.  Was up at 6, at the bus stop at 6:50, at work at 7:30. 

My boss (who I love) had a great day today.  She’s been fighting cancer, as have too many damned people in our department over the last year.  Today was the first day Kathy didn’t wear a wig, in nearly nine months.

Sorry mom, but sometimes, I have to say it.

F*ck yes she didn’t.

But that wasn’t the surprise of the day.  The surprise of the day was that at least ten different people, including her, wound up emailing or IM’ing me today, in utter shock that I was there. 

And the first person to send the “I never imagined I’d see you today” IM … was my boss.

There’s a lot of things in life, that if you have them, it can be very beneficial.  A boss who expects you to call in drunk after an epic Chiefs game, is certainly one of those fringe benefits you are grateful to have.

--------------------

I guess it’s time to draw this to a close, since I’m in page fifteen in Word, I’ve been typing off and on for pushing 24 hours now, and “How I Met Your Mother”* is ready to appear on my television screen.

So let me get to the finish, and try to tie this together.

--------------------

(*: I know – the final season is borderline unwatchable at this point.  I get it.  But I actually am kind of liking the idea, and am curious to see where it's going to wind up.  I’m giving the writing staff that’s made me laugh for eight years, the benefit of the doubt for year nine.  (Pause).  Oh crap.  That’s exactly what I did for “Roseanne” fifteen years ago as well.  Although in that show’s defense, the final season actually holds up better in hindsight than I thought it would, and I was probably the only fan of the show who actually liked more than half the final season, so what do I know.)

--------------------

I picked “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues”, because quite frankly, I like the song; quite frankly, Seth MacFarlane geniusly used it in the classic “Family Guy” episode “No Meals on Wheels” ...

... and because quite frankly, there’s a line in there, that describes where I’m at, at this point, when it comes to a lot of things, especially this team.

I didn’t put it in the opening lyrics.  I wanted to save it for the end.

--------------------

Fifty eight minutes, twenty one seconds in, Case Keenum went down.  The ball came loose, Derrick Johnson recovered it, and three kneeldowns later, the Chiefs had reached 7-0 for the second time in franchise history, and for the third time in eleven years, they are the last unbeaten standing (2003, 2010).

That wasn’t the moment, that made me cry on Sunday.  And yes – I did cry.  Exactly once.

--------------------

“Wait on me girl.
Cry at night if it helps.

Because more than ever?
I simply love you,
More than I love life itself.”

-- verse two bridge to the chorus, "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues", by Elton John.

--------------------

Sports is my escape.  Well, that’s partially true; I do enjoy a bottle or five of adult beverages from hour to hour, and I’ve been known to enjoy a medicinally legal herbal product from time to time.

But sports is my escape.  Everyone has to have one.  Believe me, I know how utterly ridiculous it is, to care so much for this team.  I get how meaningless this game yesterday was in the grand scheme of life.  Believe me, I get it.  Believe me – as one of the few diehard NBA fans in the Kansas City metropolitan area, I really get how ridiculous my love of certain sports, certain players, and certain teams can appear to be at times.  I have no problems whatsoever getting made fun of for it, and I have no problems whatsoever mocking myself over it.

Which is why what happened, because of Alex Smith taking his third kneeldown, to ensure victory yesterday, is the only moment I cried.

I’m man enough to admit, I get emotional.  I’m human.  I have feelings, and I don’t apologize for them.  The late, great Jim Valvano believed you should have your emotions moved to tears at least once daily.  I’m not sure I’d go that far, but he’s got a point.

Because amidst the high fives, the hugs, the fist pumps and bumps, the cheering, the celebrating, the Tomahawk Chopping, that the last one minute and thirty nine seconds yesterday occurred in section 132, row 26, seat 14?

One moment stands out above them all.

The moment my emotions, were moved to tears.

--------------------

“Because more than ever?  
I simply love you, 
More than I love life itself ..."

I’ve never felt that way about someone personally before.  It’s why I’m 36 and not married.  I have yet to meet “The One”.  Or, if I have met her, it simply hasn’t been our time to realize it yet.

The best friend I’ve ever had, my ex-girlfriend, got married on Saturday.  It was a weird feeling, seeing someone you feel so strongly about, so affectionately for, formally pull away from you, to truly embrace another.

And that’s a horrible way to phrase it, because that isn’t what happened, and we all know that, especially me.  She found her one, and it wasn’t me.  That happens.  But it’s a very, very weird feeling, trust me.  To realize that someone you care that much about, will never care that much for you, ever again … and you never will for her, either?  It’s a weird feeling, and not in a good way.

(Deep sigh ...)

All last season, that’s the feeling I had about this franchise.  That’s the feeling that I had about the Chiefs, that this was a thing of the past.  That I’d never again feel emotion, and passion, like I have for most of my life, for the Red and Gold.  

I genuinely feared that last season would ruin Chiefs football for me, like 2004 ruined Royals baseball for me. 

It seemed natural to me, that the Chiefs would join the parade of failures and turncoats from the last few years, that I just simply look at and think “Jesus, what next?  How can this possibly get worse?  How?”, while it continued to get worse.

That’s why the moment I choose to close with, meant so much to me yesterday.  If you were watching it on TV, you wouldn’t have known it.  If you weren’t in my immediate vicinity, you wouldn’t have noticed it.  And even those next to me, friends and true family (aka “the kind you choose, not the ones you're born to”) who have had my back, have stood for me, and have supported me, not just through the rough last couple years, but most especially the painful, indescribable last couple weeks, as my dad died, was revived, then basically killed off again to attempt to save his brain while figuring out what the root cause of his collapse in that Hen House was.

I can never repay people for their kindness, for their generosity.  And it is a tribute to so many of you who read this, that you sought me out, you let me know you were praying, you were supporting, you were simply there if I needed you. 

“Because more than ever?  
I simply love you, 
More than I love life itself.”

Because when Alex Smith took his third kneeldown yesterday …

--------------------

You all know, I do not believe in coincidence.

I stood in my spot, enjoying the high fives, enjoying the hugs, enjoying the celebration.  We, as much as anyone, WE delivered this win for these guys. 

We stood.  In the words of Blake Shelton, we got loud.  We got proud.

Then we got worse.

Standing in my former seat, feeling a wave of nostalgia from so many fun, meaningful seasons come washing over me … and the hurt, the heartbreak, the pain of so many disappointments suffered in that spot, what can I say.  It got to me.

But that’s not what made me cry.

Because nearly a full minute after Alex Smith took that knee, as I stood there waiting for one direction of the row or the other to start moving to get out of there, something hit me on the top of my head.

It couldn’t have been thrown from the upper deck before Alex Smith’s final kneeldown.  It would have landed on me far sooner, if it had been.  It had to be tossed at the moment the Chiefs achieved victory.

Because what landed on me, was this:


(photo: me, via my iPhone.)

Someone above me, cares so much for this team, that they chucked a streamer, to celebrate the final play.

That?

That made me cry.

Because it made me realize, that this team isn’t going to go the way of so many other things in my life the last couple years.

These guys are here to stay.

They’ve got our back, Chiefs fans.

And godd*mmit, have I got theirs …

No comments:

also, apologies on the layout ...

Something went bat sh*t crazy when I tried to upload the previous post.  I'll work on fixing it Tuesday.  I didn't change a thing; t...