Keeler on Fasano, fourth-and-goal and the joy of 7-0
Sean Keeler opines on the big, super freaking awesome Chiefs (they're 7-0, you might have heard)
By SEAN KEELER FS Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, Mo. --Because trivia is fun, especially sunny trivia: According to our pal (and cycling enthusiast) Dave Skretta of the Associated Press, since 1966, 31 NFL or AFL teams before the Kansas City Chiefs have started a season 7-0. All 31 made the postseason. Of those 31 clubs, 15 -- almost half -- got all the way to the Super Bowl. And of those 15 teams, nine of them won the whole damn thing. And of those aforementioned 15, one was the 2004 NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles, coached by -- wait for it -- Andy Reid; in fact, it was the last Andy Reid team to open a season 7-0. Until now ...
CHIEFS 17, TEXANS 16: THREE (NOT ALL THAT) UNCOMFORTABLY PRESSING MONDAY QUESTIONS
It didn't hurt. The big man from Jersey wound up with four catches on the day for 27 yards, but was targeted by quarterback Alex Smith five times -- the second-highest total on the day to wideout
Dwayne Bowe. Smith and Reid like having two tight ends out there at any particular time together, and it shows: In the only two games in which Fasano has been fully healthy -- Week 1 at Jacksonville and Week 7 versus Houston -- the free-agent import has been targeted five times. Fasano got five targets or more just six times over 16 contests last fall with Miami.
"He did a great job coming in ... (after) an ankle (injury) like that and the knee," Smith said of Fasano, who had spent the previous four games on the mend. "And not just in the pass game; he had to execute in the run games and push around big guys. I thought he did a great job."
:02 ... Did Reid do the right thing on fourth-and-goal, up 1, at the Texans' 1, while clinging to a 17-16 edge with 13:50 left in the tilt?
In hindsight, probably not. With two defenses that were beating the living snot out of each other most of the afternoon, any and all points were precious. But it was the ultimate show of faith to his units on both sides of the ball, and even if the offense didn't reward him for the gesture -- a sprint-right option play up the right boundary went beyond
Sean McGrath's reach in the end zone -- Reid's defense sure as hell did. According to the official scorebook, the Texans' next four possessions netted -1 yards, total -- and 30 of those came on the first possession in question.
At any rate, Reid vowed he'd gamble again: "I made a deal with the players ... that when I first got here, (I said), 'We're going to stay aggressive,' and at the same time, you have to do what you think is right there. I thought we could get that son-of-a-gun in there."
:01 ... Seven straight weeks, seven straight wins. Big deal, or big freaking awesome deal?
Big, SUPER freaking awesome deal. But even better, the Denver Broncos lost. It's probably too soon to be talking Super Bowl, but it's not too soon to be talking about possible paths to get there. Home-field advantage guarantees you nothing -- the Chiefs bowed out in their postseason openers at Arrowhead Stadium in '95, '97, '03 and '10, after all -- but it sure as hell helps your odds, historically: Since 2002, the host team in the NFL playoffs has won 61 percent of the time; in the past decade, three teams have won the three road games in the postseason it takes for a wild-card team to reach the promised land.
Defense and a running game "travel" well -- and the men in red excel at both -- but January in the NFL is a different beast. There's a reason the Chiefs haven't won a playoff game in 20 years; the last quarterback to pull it off for them was one of the greatest signal-callers of all time (Joe Montana). And the last man to get them to a Super Bowl? Same fraternity (Len Dawson). As steady as Smith has been, a road to the big one that involves winning two games inside Arrowhead sounds a hell of a lot better than trying to grab three straight on the road, don't ya think?
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.