Sometimes you grow into a leader. Sometimes you lead by example. Sometimes leadership is thrust upon you by an uncontrolled circumstance such as having an emergency appendectomy.
No matter the circumstance, Matt Cassel became the leader every Chief fan wanted by displaying courage and reckless abandon during the Kansas City Chiefs 27-13 win over the St. Louis Rams just 11 days from having an organ removed. More importantly, Cassel finally won over his teammates with his gutsy play.
Even head coach Todd Haley had been reluctant to call Cassel a leader earlier in the season and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis was brought in "to fix the quarterback."
Sometimes you just get lucky too. It helped that the Chiefs played a Rams team that is not very good in a road environment that contained as much red as it did blue in the stands.
The Rams had a chance to get a 14-point lead on the Chiefs in the first quarter and begin a lopsided victory like the San Diego Chargers accomplished the week before by eliminating the NFL's No. 1 rushing attack. Instead, the Rams imploded on the opening drive by committing costly penalties and settled for a field goal.
When Matt Cassel turned the ball over on the next Chiefs possession, the Chiefs defense responded by putting consistent pressure on rookie quarterback Sam Bradford and held the Rams to another field goal.
On the next Chiefs possession, Cassel’s bad third-down throw was bailed out by a gutsy fourth-down call by Haley. Cassel rewarded Haley with a beautiful sideline pass to Dwayne Bowe for a 28-yard gain two plays later. The Chiefs went on to score 20 unanswered points and dominate the rest of the game.
Just how far his inspirational performance will get the Chiefs is undetermined, but I think it will be the crucial factor in getting a young Chiefs team into the playoffs.