As a Kansas City Chiefs' fan in New York, the only way I can follow the team is by listening to the radio broadcast of the game online. At certain crucial points of the game, color commentator Len Dawson urges the team to "put the hammer down" (to play tough physical football and put the game out of reach). Today, it was hammer time in Kansas City as the Chiefs rode hard running and tough defense to victory.
Other than a some bad penalties and a terrible pass interference call, the Chiefs got off to a solid start. While they were burned by some passes to Maurice Jones-Drew and Mercedes Lewis, the defense held firm on the ground. For the most part, they hit MJD close to the line, but faltered by allowing second effort yardage. Still it was an improvement over last year and I'm still adjusting to a solid defense so I can't complain.
However, their defense stepped up at big moments and mimicking the strong defensive effort, the ground game kept rolling.
Beginning with a huge 70-yard rush up the middle by Thomas Jones, the Chiefs' two-headed monster in the backfield pounded the Jacksonville front almost nonstop in the first half, accounting for 236 yards and two touchdowns.
They also forced the defense to concentrate on multiple fronts of attack, Jones up the middle, Charles off tackles, and McCluster on the outside, allowing the sometimes shaky Matt Cassel to stand tall in the pocket and turn in a respectable day.
Cassel's day was highlighted by two touchdown passes to Dwayne Bowe, including a 53-yard bomb. For the most part, there were no fancy plays, just tough runs to set the tone and smart passes to capitalize on the change of pace.
As in the Chiefs' other big wins this season, a big defensive play was the turning point. Nine minutes into the second half, Derrick Johnson intercepted a pass and ran it back 15 yards for a touchdown. Today's performance was particularly solid up front, as Maurice Jones-Drew was held to only 47 yards on the ground.
This result gives the Chiefs the best run differential in the league, 75 yards. I was impressed that this placed the team ahead of the New York Jets, a team built around tough defense and punishing ground assault.
If the Chiefs' fundamentals continue to hold strong, they can compete against anyone. As shown today, a strong running game and stingy defense can make up for bad penalties and allow the supporting cast to shine. As long as the hammer keeps striking in Kansas City, Chiefs fans will have something to look forward to every Sunday.