|12-05-2005, 12:36 AM||#1|
Chiefs > Broncos
Join Date: Apr 2004
Whitlock - Upon review, the D comes through
Upon review, D comes through
Kansas City Star
Of all the heroes — and there were many — in Kansas City’s pulsating 31-27 victory over Denver inside Arrowhead Stadium, referee Bill Leavy was the biggest.
Leavy had the courage to do what was right when it would have been easy and justifiable to do nothing. By erasing Denver’s last first down, overturning a horrendous fourth-and-1 spot after a replay review, Leavy stamped Kansas City’s defensive resurgence as legitimate.
In the biggest game of the year, in the most important game of coach Dick Vermeil’s tenure, Kansas City’s defense held the Broncos to six points in the second half and stoned Mike Anderson on fourth and 1 with 2 minutes, 1 second to play.
Thanks to their big-play defense, the Chiefs, 8-4, control their playoff destiny and, more important, appear to be a team that won’t be an automatic playoff out.
Yes, skeptics can point to Jake Plummer’s unforced error — an end-zone interception in the first half — Mike Shanahan’s curiously conservative play-calling and a ridiculously bad helmet-to-helmet, personal-foul penalty on John Lynch as reasons for KC’s victory.
But the truth is the Chiefs won the game because their defense stopped Anderson on fourth and 1, and Bill Leavy was man enough to correct the spotting error of one of his co-workers. To be honest, the replays were all pretty inconclusive. An avalanche of Chiefs defenders blocked the camera angles from picking up Anderson and the ball. Leavy could have let the spot stand and hid behind “inconclusive evidence.” He could have left KC’s defense on the field and told Gunther Cunningham’s guys to protect those last 52 yards.
“A lot of guys might not have reversed that,” Vermeil said. “That’s a gutsy call.”
“The runner was clearly short by a couple of feet of the 48-yard line,” Leavy said after the game. “He had to reach the 48.”
Anderson was short because defensive tackle Ryan Sims stood up the guard in front of him, which stopped Anderson’s momentum, and Lional Dalton and Jared Allen crashed into Anderson as he tried to cut back.
“Sims blew up the guard,” Dalton said.
The Chiefs blew up the interior of Denver’s offensive line on the play. Linebackers Kawika Mitchell and Derrick Johnson charged the “A” gaps. Safety Sammy Knight blitzed from the outside. Allen didn’t have a gap responsibility. He was just supposed to go with his offensive tackle and then find the football.
After surrendering 283 yards and 21 points in the first half, KC’s defense shut down the Broncos after the break, giving up just 105 yards.
Kansas City’s defensive performance clearly surprised Shanahan. “The Mastermind” coached with an arrogance that surely delighted the Chiefs’ coaching staff. The Broncos entered the game with a two-game lead in the AFC West and thoroughly convinced that there was no way KC’s offense could keep pace with Shanahan’s offensive unit.
Shanahan didn’t acknowledge that Denver’s running game needed its No. 1 running back until the second half. Tatum Bell ran the ball just five times all afternoon. He didn’t play in the first half. He picked up 46 yards on his five second-half carries. His replacements — Anderson and Ron Dayne — carried the ball 21 times for 63 yards.
Given a turnover in KC territory just 15 seconds before halftime, Shanahan ran a draw play on first down that moved the ball to the Kansas City 34. On third down, Shanahan eschewed a 52-yard field-goal attempt or a 34-yard Hail Mary pass. Instead, Shanahan called for another draw play and jogged into the locker room happy with a 21-21 tie.
Early in the third quarter, trailing 24-21, the Broncos were set up first and goal at the 6. Shanahan ran Dayne twice and Anderson once and then trotted out Denver’s field-goal unit.
Shanahan does not respect the Chiefs. He coached the Broncos as if it were 2002 or 2003 and Greg Robinson was controlling Kansas City’s defense. The Chiefs’ defense doesn’t give away points anymore. Shanahan never anticipated Gunther Cunningham regrouping his defenders and slowing Denver’s offense.
Well, that’s what happened in the second half. The effort the Chiefs put forth on Sunday was good enough to beat every team in football except the Colts. Kansas City played its most complete game during Vermeil’s tenure. Against one of the league’s best run defenses, Larry Johnson rushed for 140 yards and two TDs. Trent Green completed 16 of 23 passes for 253 yards, two TDs and two interceptions. The Chiefs overcame adversity. They made big plays on both sides of the ball.
“It’s amazing,” defensive end Eric Hicks said. “We’re 8-4. It’s an amazing feeling. We’re working hard and have won three in a row now. We need to go on the road and get a win and keep this thing going.”
They can. The performance that beat Denver inside Arrowhead Stadium will beat the Cowboys and the Giants on the road.