Who cares how? Chiefs are 5-0 for first time since 2003
Five things we learned from the Chiefs’ 26-17 win over the Titans on Sunday.
ENJOY THE START, FOR PETE’S SAKE
Listening to one postgame call-in show Sunday, you would have thought the Chiefs lost 26-17, and that they were 1-4 on the season.
Really, the grumbling was that noticeable.
One fan complained about Alex Smith’s dink-and-dunk offense. Another fan moaned about general manager John Dorsey’s failure to address the receiving corps in the draft, and then wanted to know why Dwayne Bowe “wasn’t trying” to get open. Still another fan wondered how defensive end Tamba Hali could overpursue on “every single play.”
The complaints went on and on. The special teams are suspect, a caller griped. The offensive line got overmatched, bellyached another. And Smith can’t throw deep.
Now, granted, I realize that fans who call in to talk shows are likely a minority. But come on, Chiefs fans. Enjoy the ride.
The Chiefs are 5-0 for the first time since 2003, and they are in perfect position to get to 8-0 with a three-game homestand coming up against Oakland, Houston and Cleveland.
Are the Chiefs without flaws? Of course not. But this is who they are — a team with a conservative offense that can run the ball and play field position, and a team with one of the best overall defenses in the NFL.
What they also are is unbeaten, with three road wins already. I don’t care how you get it done — being 5-0 in the NFL is damn impressive.
As Chiefs coach Andy Reid told reporters after the game, “We’re 5-0 and we’re not ashamed of anything.”
THIS JUST IN: CHRIS JOHNSON IS REALLY FAST
I’m still in awe of the 49-yard touchdown reception from Tennessee’s Chris Johnson that got the Titans on the scoreboard.
Johnson had been trying to help out with blitz protection on the play. Then quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick started to scramble and was about to get sacked when he just flipped the ball a few feet forward to a somewhat startled Johnson, who then showed how dangerous he can be in the open field.
Johnson made one nice move after the catch, but mostly he just outran half of the Chiefs’ defense with his 4.25 speed and sprinted to the corner of the end zone — untouched. And this is not exactly a slow Chiefs defense.
You also have to credit the Chiefs’ defense for containing Johnson in the running game, holding him to a paltry 17 yards on 10 carries. The Chiefs talked all week about staying in their gaps and playing team defense against him, and they executed the plan.
BIG DAY FOR COOPER
Chiefs rookie defensive back Marcus Cooper, whom Dorsey grabbed after the 49ers released him after the final day of cuts, was thrust into action last week when Brandon Flowers was hurt.
Cooper got plenty of snaps again Sunday and pulled off a huge interception with the Chiefs clinging to a 20-17 lead with just over six minutes left. Cooper outfought Titans wideout Nate Washington for the ball along the sideline, and his pick led to a field goal that made it 23-17.
Cooper also was in the right place at the right time in the first quarter when a Dustin Colquitt punt caromed off a Titans blocker and was kicked back into the end zone. Cooper was there to fall on the ball and secure it for a touchdown.
“The kid competes on every play,” Reid told reporters after the game. “I like that.”
WHO WAS THAT?
During the week, quarterback Alex Smith seemed to be spending quite a bit of time in the locker room chatting with diminutive wideout Chad Hall (5 feet 8). Hall, 27, had been active for two games this season before Sunday, but hadn’t been a part of the offense at all.
But on Sunday, Smith targeted Hall four times on the opening drive, which certainly was surprising. Reid normally scripts his first 15 plays, so it’s likely Smith and Hall spent the week going over the that sequence of plays in the locker room.
Hall, by the way, caught only one pass Sunday for 9 yards, but it was his first catch in the NFL since 2011, when he was with the Eagles.
Give some credit to Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop, who was 4 for 4 on field goals Sunday and also sealed the win with a 48-yarder with 2:39 left. That final kick gave the Chiefs a two-possession lead at 26-17 and sealed the deal.
And it was anything but a gimme. There was plenty of rain, a bit of wind, and the field was soggy — but Succop ignored the conditions and nailed the clutch kick.
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email firstname.lastname@example.org.