Kansas City Chiefs: Matt Cassel Comes Through in the Clutch
I know that headline will not be the perception. The truth is, however, he did. In the "game nobody wanted to win," the Chiefs were left with 1:20 seconds to go, with the ball on their own 31-yard line and no timeouts.
I understand that will not be the story. In fact, this may be the only one where it is! It will be about Jamaal Charles, the inability of the Chiefs to score and Ryan Succop's game-winning kick. Those are all valid lead stories.
The other thing that should not be overlooked, are the Buffalo Bills. This is not a bad football team. They dropped more than 500 yards on the Ravens last week, one of the best defenses in the NFL. They also scored 34 points. Yesterday, in five quarters, they scored 10, but they are a hard playing, tough team.
As nice as it would have been to simply hand the ball to Jamaal Charles, who the Bills might have considered tackling once in while, there was no time.
It is moments like this when your quarterback has to get the team down field.
So, you do the next best thing. Pass to Jamaal Charles, which is good for 16 yards to the KC 47-yard line. Next play is a short incomplete pass, essentially spiking the ball.
Then, out of the shotgun, Cassel throws to one of his favorite targets, Tony Moeaki for 18 yards down to the Buffalo 35 with 47 seconds left. Cassel hurries the team to the line, does not spike the ball, but hit Moeaki again for 11 more yards down to the Buffalo 24.
Now Cassel spikes the ball with 21 seconds remaining. The next play is somewhat of a surprise, which I suspect was the whole idea. What wasn't a surprise was its success.
You give the ball to Charles. He runs eight yards to the Buffalo 16, Cassel hurries to the line and spikes the ball again with five seconds on the clock.
You know the rest. Mr. Not Irrelevant at all, comes out and kicks the field goal as time expires, and the Chiefs win a game that I was certain was going to end in a tie.
Talk about kissing your sister, a tie?
Here come the critics. The passes were short and Charles and Moeaki did the running. Some of that is true, some is not.
Most people are going to complain about what Cassel did not do, not what he did. That happens every week, no matter what happens.
Dozens of times I've heard he couldn't win a game when it was on the line. He did yesterday, whether you would like to admit it or not. There are many people that would not be satisfied with Matt Cassel if he took the Chiefs to the Super Bowl and won. They would find some reason to draft a quarterback.
Conversely, there was a lot Cassel did wrong in this game. I will be the first to admit that he is going to have to take his game to another level if the Chiefs are going to beat the "big boys," especially on the road.
There was also some "suspect" play calling. I'm not referring to the fourth down calls. I happen to support those. I am often baffled at the calls, not the decision to go for it.
Yesterday, in the first quarter with the ball on the 33, fourth down and eight yards to go, I thought it was a perfect time to go for it. It's a long field goal on a windy day and your quarterback should be able to throw an eight-yard pass. Plus, you have a running back that was running at about eight yards a clip.
I understand the idea was to pin the Bills right down on the goal line. Also a very good strategy, except it didn't work. That's just Monday morning quarterback stuff.
They need to put the ball in the end zone with far more consistency. When, and if they can accomplish that, they will be a very difficult team to beat.
The Chiefs run game at this point is just sick. They have rushed for more than 200 yards three games in a row. Going into yesterday's game, they led the league in rushing at 176 yards a game. Yesterday, they ran for 274 yards.
They are now averaging 190 yards per game rushing. That, at almost the mid-point of the season.
Now, the problem with that. With a team that can run like that, they should have a lethal play action pass game.
That's what the coaching staff, Cassel and the receivers should be working on, because I think they're all responsible for the lack of it.
Matt Cassel has thrown three interceptions this year, best in the NFL. We know he's not going to have a lot of attempts when your team is averaging 190 yards rushing. He is also one of the least sacked quarterbacks in the NFL. That's a credit to his offensive line, and how he plays.
He needs to start games off better. He seems to come out of the gate slowly. He needs to get the ball deeper. He needs to be more precise in some of his throws.
Yes, he needs to get better. We all know that. If the Chiefs, which obviously they will, win one more game, they will have won as many games this year as they did in 2008 and 2009, combined.
Yet, strangely, all I seem to hear are complaints about their quarterback and head coach.
Matt Cassel finished yesterday's game 14-for-26, for 152 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions.
Not very impressive numbers by a long shot, especially in five quarters! Keep in mind, however, 45 of those yards came in the last 60 seconds that led to the win.
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