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Old 11-12-2012, 11:38 PM   Topic Starter
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Mellinger | Chiefs discover new way to fail

Mellinger | Chiefs discover new way to fail
By SAM MELLINGER
The Kansas City Star
The Chiefs’ best game of the year ended in the most appropriate way possible: a turnover and a loss. Now comes the part where they push and pull about what it means. Everything up to the jobs of the head coach and general manager may hang in the balance.

That we’re now into the second half of the season with the Chiefs having one win and talking about their best game ending in a loss would be sadder if we weren’t well past the point of worrying about such signs of ineptitude.

The Chiefs played tough, and fearless. And even though they blew what turned out to be a 16-13 loss in overtime here on Monday night, as long as the men in charge are still in charge they have a chance to stay in charge.

Hey, if nothing else, they finally ended that ridiculous season-long streak of never leading while the clock was running. They looked, mostly, like a real NFL team. Like they practice and everything.

“The guys played their hearts out,” coach Romeo Crennel said. “If the guys keep playing that way, we’ll get this turned.”

It remains virtually impossible to imagine them doing it, but in a season of such historical and thorough failure you can hear quarterback Matt Cassel say this was “without a doubt” the Chiefs’ best game of the year and nod your head with understanding.

But looked at from other angles, the Chiefs found new ways to embarrass themselves. So we picked up a few more anecdotes to rehash if and when owner Clark Hunt decides to make major changes.

He already had all the reasoning he needs, but an unforgettably creative one came in the third quarter when the Chiefs did the Chiefs-est thing of the season: a “group celebration” penalty for a touchdown that didn’t count on their way to 1-8. The refs called back the score on a penalty, but did enforce the penalty.

So to review: the guys tied for the worst record in the league got flagged for celebrating a touchdown that never happened. This is officially the cockiest terrible team in NFL history.

Every once in a while, a dirty mop bucket of a season breaks for comedy.

Starting today, the Chiefs will publicly try to spin this as a positive turning point. They will talk about how hard they played and how they took a Super Bowl contender into overtime on the road, but they’re just as likely to have peaked as continue to ascend.

Because how much longer will the defense continue to play this hard when the quarterback goes 11 for 26 with the game-ending interception?

How much longer will Jamaal Charles continue to run so hard for a team going nowhere, each hit taking a bit off the already perilous career of an NFL running back?

The Chiefs very clearly took this matchup against their old coach on their sport’s biggest stage personally, and part of how this season ends up will depend on how Hunt interprets it.

He can be impressed with the effort, or frustrated that personal vendettas are required to bring it out.

He can think about taking one of the NFL’s model franchises to the wire, or he can think of the stupid mistakes and embarrassing moments that made it end in another disappointment.

A missed field goal, a kickoff out of bounds, a kick return fumbled and picked up twice, continued problems covering the tight end, a hole at left guard, more dropped passes, the knucklehead star receiver taunting Pittsburgh’s defense on a touchdown that got called back, and this list could keep going.

Remember, a miniature meltdown in New York served as the final sin that allowed Scott Pioli to fire Todd Haley last year.

In strictly football terms, the Chiefs just played their best game for a coach and GM who will need more of it to stick around long-term. There’s a banner scheduled to fly above Kansas City rush hour traffic Friday morning that represents a vocal segment of the fan base rooting against that.

The Chiefs’ future depends in part on whether the buttoned-down owner cares more about a team playing hard, or the embarrassing moments that did them in.
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