When Dwayne Bowe scored a touchdown in three straight games early during his rookie season, football fans in Kansas City thought he was going to be their best wide receiver since Otis Taylor.
Bowe has already hit the record books in many receiving categories in franchise history. The most notable franchise records shattered by Bowe in his young career were receptions and receiving touchdowns among all wide receivers in a single season.
Among all pass-catchers in franchise history, Bowe is eighth in receptions, eighth in receiving yards and fifth in touchdowns.
Bowe has come a long way in his five-year career. He has played for a new offensive coordinator every season, starting with Mike Solari, Chan Gailey, Todd Haley (also the head coach), Charlie Weis and Bill Muir. Despite playing under a new offensive coordinator every season, Bowe still manages to be the top receiver on the team and tries to find ways to put his team in position to win.
During his rookie season, in a game against the Minnesota Vikings in the home opener, Damon Huard threw a pass to Bowe in the back corner of the end zone. Bowe, who was behind cornerback Cedric Griffin, jumped up to snag the pass for the first and only touchdown of the game. That touchdown catch was also the go-ahead scoring play in the fourth quarter that helped Kansas City pick up their first win of the season.
In 2009 against the Dallas Cowboys, the Chiefs were facing a 4th-and-7 play with less than a minute to go and needed a touchdown to tie. Matt Cassel threw a strike to Bowe in the end zone, who was hit hard by multiple Cowboys but managed to hold on to the ball. Despite ultimately losing to the Cowboys, Bowe's clutch play late in the game forced the game to go into overtime.
This past week, Bowe dropped a pass in the end zone against the Oakland Raiders in the third quarter. However, after the Chiefs fought back in the final two minutes of the game, the Chiefs capped off their comeback drive by throwing a quick pass to Bowe in the end zone to force the game into overtime. Although the Chiefs lost in overtime, it showed Bowe's level of play and how reliable he is when the game is on the line.
Earlier this season, Bowe helped the Chiefs form a comeback victory over the Indianapolis Colts. After trailing 17-0, Bowe caught two touchdown passes, including a circus catch that helped cut the deficit down.
Bowe has also been guilty of stealing the spotlight with many of his circus catches throughout his career.
But still, there is one big habit that has overshadowed all of the positives in Bowe's career.
In 2010, the Chiefs had a golden opportunity to defeat Peyton Manning and the Colts in their own home turf. Following a rare interception thrown by Manning to Jon McGraw, Cassel threw a deep pass right into Bowe's hands for a guaranteed touchdown. But Bowe's hands were not strong enough to maintain possession, which would have helped the Chiefs extend their record to 4-0 in 2010.
In 2008 against the San Diego Chargers, Bowe was on the "hands team" for the special teams unit to recover an onside kick. Bowe was the first player to to touch the football, closing it with his hands and pushing it against his chest. A Chargers defender quickly came and popped the ball loose, which ended up being recovered by the Chargers, who went on to win, thanks to Bowe's lack of concentration.
Following the game, former Chiefs head coach Herman Edwards explained to the media that he feels Bowe sometimes takes his eye off the football, which is the reason for his drops. Bowe's drop habits returned in 2011 after a Pro Bowl 2010 season.
It is hard to watch Bowe and determine if he is an elite player or not. Following his two-touchdown performance against the Colts earlier this year, Bowe approached general manager Scott Pioli and requested a contract extension. Pioli, however, did not grant him his wish. It appears Pioli made the right move, considering Bowe went 10 games without another touchdown following his request.
While Bowe has playmaking abilities, his consistency is a big problem. Dropping the ball in the NFL will usually end a football player's career.
Following the season finale in Denver, Bowe's contract, which he signed during his rookie season, will expire, making him a free agent in March. It is uncertain whether or not Bowe will return to Kansas City for another season. It is likely the Chiefs will put the franchise tag on him.
The question remains, though, will Bowe return to Kansas City in 2012? Can he and Pioli come to a fair agreement?
Despite being one of the most popular players on the team, Bowe has also been the most criticized among the fans, media and even his coaches.
Bowe knows that the Denver Broncos will give it their best with the AFC West on the line. For Bowe, this is an audition game. If he can come away with a big game over one of the most accomplished cornerbacks in Champ Bailey, it is very likely that he will save his career.