I almost decided not to publish this after starting it Sunday and then seeing a couple other articles on basically the same subject. However since I'm taking a slightly different direction I decided to go ahead with it.
To all the naysayers who say Cassel is not a franchise quarterback let me stop and thumb my nose at you. Kansas City took home a key victory Sunday, which may very well have made or broke their season. We'll find out in Week 17.
Cassel quietly reminded us why he is Kansas City's starter and why the Chiefs put out the big bucks to get him into the red and gold. I'll focus on that later in the piece; first the game:
Kansas City started off flat, their defense barely holding St. Louis to field goals twice. Kansas City's offense couldn't get anything going. It appeared the Rams had figured out how to stop the run and the 3rd-and-long passes were not working. I was yelling at the coaches through the TV and had started to get that sick feeling all football fans know too well. They ended the quarter with St. Louis leading 6-0.
About five minutes into the second quarter, Matt Cassel changed the tone of the game. He ran for nine yards on second down. They were able to convert a couple plays later on fourth down on a drive that ended in a touchdown pass to Pope.
St. Louis went three and out on their next possession. Kansas City followed up with another scoring drive resulting in a touchdown by Jamaal Charles. The Chiefs defense again held the Rams to three and out.
KC's final possession of the first half resulted in no score mostly due to an intentional grounding call on Cassel. I'm not sure if that was a mistake on his part or if one of the receivers didn't run the right route. They punted to St. Louis who then took a knee to end the half with the Chiefs leading 14-6.
Kansas City's opening drive of the quarter ended at the 35-yard line after Cassel was sacked. Succup stepped up and tied a career-long 53-yard field goal to put the Chiefs up 17-6. The remainder of the quarter played out with no further points for either team.
Kansas City reached the St. Louis 20-yard line before settling for another field goal extending their lead to 20-6. The next two drives of the quarter produced no points. St. Louis' following possession resulted in a touchdown run by Steven Jackson keeping the Rams alive.
Kansas City answered on the very next drive. Jammal Charles, making an incredible 80-yard run, was followed up with a touchdown made by his partner in crime, Thomas Jones; making it clear that this game was theirs. The final score of the game: 27-13 Chiefs.
This is what I really want to talk about. It became very apparent Sunday that Matt Cassel is much more to the Chiefs than the guy behind center. When he picked up those nine yards in the second, the whole team responded. Everybody's play improved—offense, defense and special teams.
His teammates saw his determination to find a way to turn that game around. They responded by stepping up to help him. Of course it could've been coincidence. I don't think it was. The change in the Chiefs' overall play was almost immediate.
Cassel is a good quarterback and is developing into a very good game manager. However what strikes me about this young man is his dedication to his team and the respect and loyalty he inspires in them. A quarterback is supposed to be (among other things) a team leader. What better way to lead than by example?
No quarterback in the league is doing a better job of that right now than our own Matt Cassel.
Thanks Matt for stepping up for your team. Thanks for showing me several times over that my faith in you was not misplaced.