Falcons vs Chiefs: Kansas City's Biggest Winners & Losers from NFL Week 1
The good news for fans is that the Kansas City Chiefs will be getting reinforcements in the form of Tamba Hali and Brandon Flowers in the coming weeks.
The bad news is that the Chiefs depleted defense was outmatched by Atlanta's offense in the second half, and the Falcons cruised to a 40-24 victory in week 1.
Here are the winners and losers for Kansas City in the 2012 season opener.
Loser: Matt Cassel
Cassel played extremely well in the first half and helped Kansas City keep pace with Atlanta's surging offense, but his second half was an absolute disaster.
As the Falcons blitzed more frequently, Cassel committed three costly turnovers which ultimately cost the Chiefs a chance to win.
The USC product looked sharp in the first frame, and it was obvious that he is much more comfortable in the offense of new coordinator Brian Daboll.
To be fair, Cassel's first interception bounced off the hands of Tony Moeaki. His second turnover, though, was a terrible decision in which Cassel rolled to his right and threw across his body.
Winner: The 2011 ACL Crew
After Week 2 of last season, the Chiefs had lost Eric Berry, Jammal Charles and Tony Moeaki to season-ending knee injuries.
All three have returned and looked as healthy as ever.
Charles rushed for 87 yards on 16 carries, and does not seem to have lost any of his trademark speed.
Moeaki had three catches and seems to be back to his normal self. The only question for Moeaki is whether can stay healthy and on the field.
Standout safety Eric Berry seems to be on the road to a full recovery as well.
Loser: The Pass Defense
The Chiefs gave up 376 yards total, and 299 of them came via Matt Ryan.
Ryan only had eight incomplete passes. Romeo Crennel's bend-but-don't-break defense was outclassed, while Julio Jones and Roddy White found open space all game long.
The pass defense should improve vastly when suspended linebacker Tamba Hali returns next week. Hali is the team's best pass rusher, and the Chiefs will also hopefully welcome back injured cornerback Brandon Flowers relatively soon.
Winner: The Rush Defense and Dontari Poe
Despite the pass defense's shortcomings, the rush defense came to play. The unit held Michael Turner to 32 yards and the defensive line did a good job of holding the point of attack.
Rookie Dontari Poe looked strong in his first NFL game and if he develops into a solid nose tackle, the Chiefs run defense will be a force to reckon with.
Loser: Kansas City Coaching Staff
Besides the fact that Matt Ryan torched the Kansas City secondary for 300 yards, the real reason why the Chiefs loss is because the coaches failed to make adjustments at the half.
Romeo Crennel's bend but don't break defense was unsuccessful in the first half, and it was more of the same during the second.
Already hurting from the loss of Tamba Hali and Brandon Flowers, the Chiefs timid defensive game plan did nothing to help the shorthanded unit.
Offensively, Brian Daboll failed to adjust to the blitzes by the Atlanta defense, and the offensive line looked outmatched in the second half.
Winner: The Fans
This loss is nothing like the 41-7 loss to Buffalo in last season's opener, and despite dropping this one, the arrow is pointing up.
The offense looked very sharp in the first half, and Matt Cassel looked at home in his new offensive scheme.
Kansas City's rushing attack was potent, and the offensive line looked very impressive.
Jamaal Charles is fully healthy, and the offense is fortunate to have him back.
With returning defensive help the unit should improve quickly, and they will need everybody healthy to battle the high-powered offenses that they will face later in the season.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!