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tk13
10-05-2004, 01:08 AM
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/sports/9837126.htm

Vermeil makes point with punt

JOE POSNANSKI


BALTIMORE — OK, you're the coach. The Chiefs have the ball on the Baltimore 34. It's fourth and 2. The Chiefs are up three points. There are 6 minutes left in the game.

So, what do you do?

Now, by the time you read this, you will know how it all turned out. You will know that the Chiefs beat Baltimore 27-24 Monday night and gave hope to what had been a hopeless season. You will know that the Chiefs dominated the game on offense and defense, and players in the Chiefs locker room were about as happy as I've ever seen them. “Biggest win around here in a long time,” Chiefs defensive end Eric Hicks said.

“We just showed you what kind of heart this team has,” Tony Gonzalez said.

But forget all that for a second. Go back to the moment. The Chiefs lead by three points. It's fourth and 2. The stadium is filled with 65,000-plus, with about 60,000 of them wearing Ray Lewis jerseys.

Yes, everywhere you look, there's another Ray Lewis.

You want to talk about scary sights.

Now, you have two options: Go for it on fourth and 2 or punt. What do you do? Shoot, I'll tell you what you do. You go for it. That's a no-brainer call from the couch, from the press box, from the driver's seat in your car. Go for it. Get the first down. Put away the game. Shoot, that's what I was thinking while sitting 100 yards away.

I'm guessing that's what you were thinking at home, too.

Only Dick Vermeil did not go for it. No, he punted the football. With the game on the line, with the season in the line, he trusted his defense to win the football game. “Scary,” Vermeil said. “But I believe in those guys.”

Something has changed on that defense. You could begin to see it last week against Houston, when they allowed just one touchdown and pretty much shut down Texans running back Domanick Davis. The defense flocked around the ball. They mixed in some pretty good blitzed. The defensive lineman had moments when they overpowered the Texans offensive line.

OK, you said: But the Chiefs lost. And it was the Texans.

Well, Monday night, you saw it all over again, this time against one of the best running teams in football. The Chiefs' defense was so overwhelmed with hunger that Vermeil had to stop practice on Friday to take off the pads. It seemed like defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham's ferocity, his rage, his sheer intensity was beginning to melt into his defense.

Before the game, Vermeil told Chiefs GM Carl Peterson that the Ravens and Jamal Lewis would not be able to run against his defense.

“I just knew it,” Vermeil said. And he was right. On the first play of the game, Lewis took a pitch and ran for 18 yards. And that was pretty much it. For the next three quarters, he would carry the ball seven times for 11 yards. The Chiefs swarmed him. They dragged him down. They pounded on him.

“We tried to eliminate Jamal,” Chiefs defensive tackle Lional Dalton said.

And, for a long time, they did. In those first three quarters, the Chiefs held the Ravens to four — count 'em, four — first downs. Part of that was the Chiefs offense, which held the ball almost 34 of the first 45 minutes. But much of it was the defense, which eliminated Jamal and then bullied and intimidated quarterback Kyle Boller.

When was the last time you could say the Chiefs' defense intimidated someone?

But it was all there. The idea going into this year was that Gunther Cunningham would infuse his fury into this defense and turn around the same players who struggled so much the last two years. The first couple of games, the idea did not seem to make much sense. Monday night, though, the Chiefs defense looked different.

And that's why, with 6 minutes left, with the game on the line, Vermeil sent out punter Jason Baker. Man, you could hear almost hear the boos from Kansas City. This was the kind of move that would get second-guessed, third-guessed, mystery-guessed and Christopher-Guessed. Punt the ball? Give Baltimore a chance to come down the field and tie it? Win it? Are you kidding?

Vermeil chose the punt.

“If you want to win championships, you have to be able to stop people,” Vermeil said.

The Chiefs still have a long way to climb to win a championship. But Monday night, the defense stopped people. They slammed the door on Jamal Lewis yet again. They came after Boller on third down and put him away. The Ravens had to punt the ball back.

After a few final skirmishes, the game was over. The Chiefs won.

“What do you say about that?” Chiefs defensive lineman Ryan Sims shouted after the game.

Well, here's what: If the punt had backfired, you know that everyone would be screaming today. So here's what you should do today: If you were shouting “Go for it” at the television screen, if you were in the bar shouting that Vermeil had lost his mind, if you were at home screaming into a pillow, do the right thing.

Call a talk radio show today. Send an e-mail. Tell a friend at the office.

You were wrong. Dick Vermeil was right. Give the man some credit. He took the chance. He punted the ball. The defense came through.

And the Chiefs' season is alive again.

tommykat
10-05-2004, 01:17 AM
Can anyone disagree with that? Statement said very well!

Count Zarth
10-05-2004, 01:18 AM
The Chiefs' defense was so overwhelmed with hunger that Vermeil had to stop practice on Friday to take off the pads. It seemed like defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham's ferocity, his rage, his sheer intensity was beginning to melt into his defense.

I'm giddy right now.

KILLER_CLOWN
10-05-2004, 01:21 AM
yeah i still think we should have gone for it, we gained a net 16 yards on the incredible pharker punt and could have iced it and preserved a few gray hairs from sprouting on my everloving head!

HolmeZz
10-05-2004, 01:21 AM
I wanted to go for it at the time and I don't waiver from wanting to go for that. Regardless of the improvement our defense has made, I have more confidence in our offense than in our defense.

I don't have more faith in Tynes than our defense at this point though(mainly because of experience) which is why I'm glad we punted and didn't attempt a 50 yard FG.

go bowe
10-05-2004, 01:26 AM
I wanted to go for it at the time and I don't waiver from wanting to go for that. Regardless of the improvement our defense has made, I have more confidence in our offense than in our defense.

I don't have more faith in Tynes than our defense at this point though(mainly because of experience) which is why I'm glad we punted and didn't attempt a 50 yard FG.a field goal wouldn't have been enough...

if they had come back after the kickoff and scored a td, we would have lost...

the punt was the right call, even with baker kicking it...