Some called it aggressive, some called it daring, but as the ball traveled eight yards and spun backwards on Ryan Succop’s opening kickoff onside kick attempt, the message sent by Chiefs coach Todd Haley was clear—we can’t win without some trickery.
As a tepid offense showed after intermission, maybe he was right, but it was a strange message to send to the only undefeated team left in the league.
The Chiefs found themselves undefeated after escapes in Week 1 & 2 against San Diego and at Cleveland. While those games were looked on with a skeptical eye, they appeared to hit their stride and answer critics alike with a clobbering of the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3.
Coming off a bye week, the team was griming with confidence and walking with some pride coming into Indy, but they took a step backwards today.
Matt Cassel fell back into his inconsistent, occasionally sharp, but often sporadic play. Dwayne Bowe dropped his passes. But one has to wonder, if they played it straight-forward might they have won today? They certainly would’ve had a chance.
He followed that up by going for it on 4th down deep in Indianapolis territory on the next drive. A strong, judicial drive resulted in nothing.
In the first quarter, a six-point swing was already witnessed. Stagnant, battered, and witnessing a lost effort, the Chiefs would never travel as deep in Colts’ territory again even as Romeo Crennel’s revamped defense left the door open.
A group of eager young playmakers—told they were a deer in the headlights staring down the defending AFC Champs. However much you wish to humble youngsters, shouldn't they also play smart?
Your team's 3-0 start may have been a fabrication built on weak opponents, but you don't want your team to believe that.
Of course there is another school of thought. One that says Haley had enough confidence to try the onside kick. That Haley believed his team could convert the 4th down.
Certainly, he didn’t play things safe at the end of the first half when, with 18 seconds left in his own territory he went for it. Aided by a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty, his team got in range for a field goal.
But as the Chiefs lined up for a field goal with 1:18 left down 19-9, he again decided a 51-yard field attempt was a better option than converting a 4th-and-4. And as the kick sailed wide, the pondering remained: If they had a kicked a field goal early, they’d be driving for a tie.
Maybe, just maybe…