View Full Version : Whitlock: There's some fight left in KC after all

the Talking Can
10-05-2004, 08:41 AM
kc star (http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/sports/football/nfl/kansas_city_chiefs/9837071.htm)

There's some fight left in KC after all


The Kansas City Star

BALTIMORE — I laughed when I got the phone call. Priest Holmes spent all week telling his friends to keep the faith, don't give up on the winless Chiefs. Holmes, the miracle man, promised his friends a Monday-night miracle against Ray and Jamal Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens.

One of Holmes' friends called me.

“My boy is guaranteeing a victory, Jason,” Holmes' friend said. “I'm telling ya, keep the faith.”

I laughed. No way the Chiefs' defense could stop Baltimore running back Jamal Lewis. No way Kansas City's offensive line could contain Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis. No way the Chiefs could stop the bleeding in Baltimore.

Chiefs 27, Ravens 24.

Kansas City's NFL season isn't over. With the whole country expecting the Chiefs to collapse under the weight of an 0-3 start, the Chiefs put together their most complete performance in quite some time and reminded everyone why they were a preseason pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

It's impossible to exaggerate how impressive Kansas City's performance was Monday night. You can start with the miracle man, Priest Holmes. Facing the team that let him go, facing a run defense with an impeccable reputation, Holmes gutted and slashed his way to 125 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

Running primarily behind all-world left tackle Willie Roaf, Holmes methodically ripped through the Ravens' vaunted defense. Roaf dominated his side of the line of scrimmage. It was his second straight brilliant performance.

“Coach (Dick) Vermeil felt really bad last week when we lost because Willie played so well against Houston,'' fullback Tony Richardson said. “Willie's the most dominant, punishing offensive tackle in football, and he's proven it the last two weeks.”

Roaf's performance was equaled by guards Will Shields and Brian Waters. Center Casey Wiegmann held his own against Baltimore nose tackle Kelly Gregg. And right tackle John Welbourn had his best game in a Chiefs uniform. Kansas City's offensive line went right after All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis.

“You have to attack Ray,” Roaf explained. “You don't want to let him make plays chasing things from behind.”

Lewis was as ineffective as I've ever seen him. He won't be going to the Pro Bowl off Monday's performance. Lewis never made an important play. Shields, Wiegmann and fullback Tony Richardson all knocked Lewis backward or off his feet at some point during the game.

“Ray was bleeding at the end of the game,” Richardson said.

Everyone on Kansas City's offense played well. Wide receivers Johnnie Morton (five receptions, 64 yards) and Chris Horn (five for 60 yards) caught nearly every pass thrown their direction. Morton and Horn made a couple of spectacular catches. Blocking tight end Jason Dunn caught three passes, including a touchdown pass.

When Holmes tired, backup tailback Derrick Blaylock (six carries, 28 yards) picked up chunks of yards on the ground. Kansas City's success on the ground, Morton and Horn's sticky hands and Trent Green's precise passing allowed the Chiefs to control the clock. The Chiefs dominated time of possession — the Ravens had the football for just 20 minutes, 17 seconds.

As good as Kansas City's offense was, the Chiefs were far more impressive on defense. Gunther Cunningham's unit totally locked up (pun intended) Jamal Lewis. The league's defending rushing champion finished the night with just 73 yards on the ground. Lewis ran for 18 yards on the first play of the game. Other than that, he was held in check except for a Baltimore touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.

The Ravens stayed in the game because of a successful trick play — a flea-flicker for a touchdown — and a punt return for a score. Baltimore's offense did nothing. Kyle Boller is the worst NFL quarterback I've seen since Ryan Leaf's glory days. Boller's passing makes the Ravens totally one-dimensional on offense.

But Monday's game wasn't about Baltimore's ineptness. The story Monday night was the courage the Chiefs demonstrated. Kansas City's defense stopped the Ravens twice late in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.

Midway through the fourth quarter, with the Chiefs clinging to a three-point lead, Vermeil punted with the Chiefs facing fourth and short around the Baltimore 35-yard line. It seemed like a questionable decision. Vermeil was asking his defense to win the game. In the last couple of years, Vermeil has been burned repeatedly whenever he asks his defense to win a game.

The Chiefs' defense got the stop. And then Gunther's unit turned right back around and got another stop to finish the game off. Reserve cornerback Benny Sapp won the game with a huge sack.

Now the Chiefs have the bye week to get healthy and get ready for a difficult road test at Jacksonville. Now there's reason to have faith.

10-05-2004, 08:45 AM
“Ray was bleeding at the end of the game,” Richardson said

Bottom line.

10-05-2004, 08:49 AM
HOly crap. Somebody smack me, I must be dreaming...this must be the nicest ole Whitlock has ever been...