Kansas City Chiefs: 11 Highlights from 2011
With 2011 in the books, let's take a moment and look back at some of the highlights for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Kansas City did something they had not done in seven years and had some big moments as a team throughout the season.
Enjoy the 2011 rewind. Let me know what your favorite moment was from the 2011 season!
January 9th: Ravens vs. Chiefs Wild-Card Match
For the first time in seven years, the Chiefs, as AFC West champions, earned the privilege of hosting a playoff game. Fans were ecstatic to learn that their Chiefs were going to host a playoff game when it was least expected.
Although the Chiefs were blown out in this game, the memories cannot be taken away.
Jamaal Charles lit up Arrowhead Stadium with a 41-yard touchdown run, giving the Chiefs a 7-3 lead. It was Kansas City's first postseason lead in 13 years.
January 30th: Pro Bowl
After not having a player sent to the Pro Bowl in 2010, three different Chiefs earned Pro Bowl honors. Charles, Brian Waters and Dwayne Bowe all received an invitation when the rosters were first released.
When the AFC trailed 42-0, Cassel led the AFC in an all-Chiefs drive to give the AFC their first score of the day. After handing the ball off to Charles and completing a pass to Bowe, Cassel capped off the drive with an eight-yard touchdown run.
In the fourth quarter, Cassel connected with Jaguars fullback Montell Owens for a seven-yard touchdown pass.
On the final play of the 2011 Pro Bowl, Cassel connected with Bowe for a 21-yard pass. The play continued with the AFC lateraling the ball. Bowe gave it off to Owens, who then gave it off to Browns center Alex Mack for a 67-yard touchdown score.
Hali was the only Chief who did not play due to injury.
Feburary 2nd: Charles Wins FedEx Ground Player of the Year Award
The postseason victory was not there, but Chiefs fans were pleased to learn that Charles was awarded with the FedEx Ground Player of the Year award.
After coming close to breaking Jim Brown's record for the highest yards-per-carry average in a season, Charles dashed his way through many defenses to win this prestigious award.
This award helped Charles remove his name from the list of underrated players in the NFL.
June 11th: Leonard Pope Saves a Life
Leonard Pope is not the team's best player. But in the league today, we hear the names of many elite players tied to battery, DUIs, assaults, rape and several other crimes. Isn't it about time that we hear about a player who can give the NFL a good name?
Pope did exactly that over the summer. Thankfully, the lockout was in play otherwise a little boy would have lost his life.
With his wallet and cell phone in his jeans, Pope dove into a pool to save six-year-old Bryson Moore while he was drowning at the deep end during a birthday party.
Rightfully so, Pope was praised by the local and national media for his heroic efforts to save someone from losing their life.
Although this is not related to the game of football, it took place during the lockout. Outside of lockout negotiations, there were few stories about the players themselves. Thankfully, this was one of those few stories we heard during the offseason.
Coincidentally, in this month 28 years ago, Chiefs running back Joe Delaney died in an attempt to save three children from drowning in a pond. Delaney did not know how to swim.
July 25th: NFL Lockout Ends
This highlight could go to all 32 NFL teams. However, not every fanbase was looking forward to seeing their team play in 2011.
Chiefs fans were eager to see their favorite team get training camp underway after coming off of a 10-win season and their first division title since 2003.
Football fans in Kansas City did not mind seeing the Royals and some of their young guys play. The city also enjoyed watching Sporting Kansas City turn their season around and eventually make a run for the Eastern Conference championship game.
But in the end, the Chiefs will always be known as the most popular sports team in Kansas City. When the players and the owners announced that they had came to an agreement, sports fans in Kansas City turned away from other sporting events in the area, gluing their eyes on the Chiefs.
October 2nd: Chiefs Pick Up First Win of Season
It wasn't easy, but the Chiefs did enough to pull away with a win in a battle between two winless teams.
Ryan Succop had the game of his life by making five field goals. One of them came from 54 yards out, which was the longest of his career.
Despite struggling all game long to get into the end zone, Cassel found Bowe in the fourth quarter for a nice catch-and-run play that resulted in a touchdown.
The Chiefs defeated the Minnesota Vikings to earn their first victory of the season, 22-17.
October 9th: Chiefs Come Back and Win After Trailing by 17 Points
For the second consecutive week, the Chiefs faced a winless team and wanted to put together a two-game winning streak. Although these would not have been considered as quality wins, the Chiefs were winless after the first three weeks and were desperate for a win.
Pierre Garcon was having a field day against the Chiefs with four catches for 119 yards and two touchdown catches in the first half. The Colts got off to a 17-0 start and had a 24-7 lead at halftime.
In the second half, the Chiefs shut out Curtis Painter and the Colts hot offense. Garcon had only one catch for six yards in the second half.
Bowe got the Chiefs going in the first half with a touchdown and came away with a circus catch in the end zone during the second half. Newcomer Steve Breaston got into the action as well, scoring a pair of touchdowns.
Bowe and Breaston both put up a pair of touchdowns, which was enough to help the Chiefs come back and defeat the Colts, 28-24.
October 23rd: Chiefs Defense Shines with 6 Interceptions
It was one of the best defensive performances in franchise history.
Kansas City's defense started things off with a bang when Oakland received the opening kickoff. Kyle Boller threw an interception on the first drive of the game to Kendrick Lewis. Lewis took the interception all the way to the end zone, giving Kansas City an early touchdown.
From that point on, the Chiefs defense never looked back. Brandon Flowers got another pick-six for the Chiefs when Carson Palmer came in for the Raiders in the second half. It was the second interception of the game for Flowers.
Other defensive players who snagged an interception were Brandon Carr, Travis Daniels and Jon McGraw.
Halloween: Monday Night Miracle at Arrowhead
I remember during that weekend, listening to the national media on television and radio while they made their Week 8 picks. When it came down to picking between the Chiefs and Chargers, the Chiefs were given the slight edge because of the fact that it was a home game that Monday night. Had it been a typical Sunday afternoon game, predictors admitted they would have picked the Chargers to win.
The Chiefs started off the season 0-3, only to turn around and enter the game with a 3-3 record. The winner of this game would take first place in the AFC West.
Tied at 20, Philip Rivers and the Chargers drove to Kansas City's 15-yard line with the ball lined up on the right hash mark. The Chargers were preparing to get their next play underway to put the Chiefs away.
With 1:04 left, Rivers called for the snap. However, in one of the most shocking events in Chiefs and Monday Night Football history, Rivers closed his hands before center Nick Hardwick completed the snap. Hardwick dropped the ball, assuming Rivers took it. The play turned into a fumble, with Andy Studebaker digging his way to the bottom of the pile, recovering the football for Kansas City, keeping Chargers kicker Nick Novak on the sidelines.
After each team scored 20 points and turned the ball over four times, the game was sent to overtime. San Diego had no success with the football as all of the momentum was on Kansas City's side. The Chargers were forced to punt, and the Chiefs just moved the ball forward.
Ryan Succop came and kicked a 30-yard field goal to win the game for the Chiefs in one of the most thrilling NFL games played in 2011.
It was the first time in NFL history a team started 0-3 and took first place in the division with a 4-3 record.
December 12th: Chiefs Fire Todd Haley
Chiefs fans were anxiously waiting to find out when the front office would pull the trigger on Haley. Following the team's franchise-record fifth blowout loss of the season, Chiefs fans had a feeling his 37-10 loss against the New York Jets would be Haley's last game as the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Monday morning, many reports came out after the Chiefs confirmed that Haley was relieved of his duties as head coach after a 5-8 record in 2011.
After the Monday Night Football miracle, the Chiefs lost six days later to the winless Miami Dolphins, 31-3. The Chiefs' ugly collapse led to Pioli and owner Clark Hunt making the decision to fire Haley, as they felt it was in the best interest of the franchise to move on without him.
Although this wasn't a positive moment in 2011, Chiefs fans felt this was long overdue and were happy to see Haley out of town.
December 18th: Chiefs End Packers' Undefeated Season
By far, this was the most rapturous game of the year for the Chiefs. For fans, this was their "Super Bowl." The Chiefs did what no team could do and that was end the 19-game winning streak of the Green Bay Packers and hand them their first loss of the season.
The Chiefs gave Aaron Rodgers issues all game long as he was sacked four times. Kansas City's defense held Rodgers and Green Bay to a season-low 14 points.
The shocking win came after the Chiefs had Romeo Crennel as the interim head coach and Kyle Orton as the starting quarterback for the first time since picking him up off of waivers in November.
Overview of 2011
It is clear that 2011 was a step back from 2010. However, Chiefs fans still witnessed their fair share of magic at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Monday Night Football game on Halloween and the spoiler game against the Packers gave fans hope that one day, the Chiefs might rise over the league. Games like that always gives Chiefs fans a reason to be proud of their team.
While the Chiefs are closing in on 18 years without a postseason win, fans continue to support this team in hopes that the long overdue playoff win comes soon.
The Chiefs have a lot of work to do in the 2012 offseason as they hope to climb back up and take back the AFC West.