(Author's Note: The joys of being deployed mean sometimes you have Internet, and sometimes, well...)
Being in my early 30s now, I think more of Hanna-Barbera's cartoon shark Jabberjaw than Rodney Dangerfield when I hear the phrase "No respect!" After checking a number of the other sports websites following Kansas City's surprise win over San Diego, though, I'm beginning to think Todd Haley and crew can likewise start borrowing the phrase.
Being on the other side of the globe right now, I woke up around 4 a.m. to catch the season opener and was riding high on life as the Chiefs monopolized on big plays in the first half, then held on in the second to be the only AFC West team with a point in the "W" column.
As my day went on and things started to pick up stateside, I popped on the Internet, looking forward to seeing a big front-page picture of Jamaal Charles hitting the hole for his 56-yard touchdown run, or read a headline about Dexter McCluster's speed. After all, Kansas City came into that game and surprised even a diehard homer like myself.
Instead, all anyone could talk about was the Ravens-Jets game. Sportsline, SI, ESPN...all of them wanted to talk about how the Jets' offense stalled, a Ravens defense that played better than expected, or the debut of Anquan Boldin for Baltimore.
Let's be honest here: The Jets let their main offensive weapon, Thomas Jones, walk in free agency. Sanchez wasn't exactly spectacular last season, and I wouldn't consider any of their receivers right now to be "future Hall of Famers." LaDainian Tomlinson is the best player on that offense right now. But as much as I respect and admire the guy, Tomlinson is unfortunately in the twilight of his career and is not the man to carry the load at this point.
Baltimore was able to take advantage of that, and squeaked out a 10-9 win. And let's not forget both of these teams are considered locks for the postseason.
Now, Kansas City opened their newly-renovated Arrowhead Stadium against another "sure thing" playoff contender, who happens to also be a division rival. Not only do they beat the odds and win, but they did it in grand "put me on SportsCenter fashion. Kansas City hasn't been able to win so much as a Cracker Jack prize, let alone sniff at any games in mid-January since Dick Vermeil's team was dismantled following the 2006 season.
Instead of looking like the AFC West's mange-ridden junkyard dog, though, the Chiefs came out with surprises in every aspect of the game. Charles and Jones ran the ball with authority, if not extensively. The defense came out as a vastly improved squad. Glenn Dorsey played two-gap well (covering two gaps in the offensive line, places where a running back will look to run through). And Derrick Johnson was a beast, smothering the Chargers with 11 tackles, not to mention the tackle-and-strip of rookie running back Ryan Mathews.
And I haven't even really started on the two-headed return team of McCluster and Javier Arenas. I expected McCluster to blow out another pair of shoes on his punt return touchdown. Just when I was thought he was fast, he dropped into another gear and put everyone in the rear view. I can't think of a time I've ever seen anyone run that fast on a football field.
But despite all the glitz and glamor packed into Monday night's game, Kansas City took a back seat on the headlines Tuesday morning.
The Chiefs have a long way to go before they achieve just respectability. Our coverage was spotty, our passing game abysmal, and we're about a half-second too slow on the pass rush—the difference between a hurried throw and a sack.
But Kansas City looks like they've picked up right where they left off after last season's victory over Denver. And if I were a sportswriter (which I am), I'd start paying attention.
It looks like Chiefs fans have something to cheer about again.
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