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the Talking Can
10-05-2004, 09:45 AM
kc star (http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/sports/football/nfl/kansas_city_chiefs/9837126.htm)

Posted on Tue, Oct. 05, 2004


Vermeil makes point with punt

By JOE POSNANSKI

The Kansas City Star

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.

To reach Joe Posnanski,

Ralphy Boy
10-05-2004, 10:11 AM
That's a good article.

Phobia
10-05-2004, 10:15 AM
Let's be real. He was bound to get it right sooner or later. Christ - he's missed on that call for a couple of years and finally the Defense bails him out....

That's worth an entire article, JoPo?

How about writing an interesting article about how much spin is meaningful coming from DV's mouth?

MOhillbilly
10-05-2004, 10:18 AM
I wish Hicks would shut his face.

The D had to take the pads off cause they were killing each other. I do like the sound of that.
Nothing is your friend more in a street fight than a mean streak blended w/ rage.

Baby Lee
10-05-2004, 10:22 AM
Let's be real. He was bound to get it right sooner or later. Christ - he's missed on that call for a couple of years and finally the Defense bails him out....
You're right, it's stupid to ever call on your defense to make a stand, for ALL TIME!!!

siberian khatru
10-05-2004, 10:24 AM
I still think it was the wrong call. If you go for it and fail, the D still has to bail you out, and last night we're only talking a 20-yard difference after the punt. The way our OL was dominating last night, you run Priest on 3rd and 2 and 4th and 2.

Kudos to the D performance last night, but our O is still our most reliable unit. I want the game in their hands every time.

Logical
10-05-2004, 10:38 AM
And the Chiefs' season is alive again.


That is premature, our season is on life support and there is almost no brain activity left. A miracle is still possible but smart money is on the grim reaper.

Mr. Laz
10-05-2004, 10:39 AM
Let's be real. He was bound to get it right sooner or later. Christ - he's missed on that call for a couple of years and finally the Defense bails him out....

That's worth an entire article, JoPo?

How about writing an interesting article about how much spin is meaningful coming from DV's mouth?
yep...


on 3rd and 2, we should of run the dam ball too

HC_Chief
10-05-2004, 10:41 AM
I was screaming bloody murder when I saw that faggot Baker trotting onto the field :grr:
IMO we were lucky we faced the worst passing O in the league.

Phobia
10-05-2004, 10:41 AM
You're right, it's stupid to ever call on your defense to make a stand, for ALL TIME!!!

Heh heh.

That wasn't my point.

I think it is ridiculous to write an entire column about one correct call when the previous dozen have proven incorrect. Seriously. If there were a stat that showed the effects of 4th and short decisions made in the last 10 minutes of a game, DV is hitting about .090 now.

Coogs
10-05-2004, 10:44 AM
I still think it was the wrong call. If you go for it and fail, the D still has to bail you out, and last night we're only talking a 20-yard difference after the punt. The way our OL was dominating last night, you run Priest on 3rd and 2 and 4th and 2.

Kudos to the D performance last night, but our O is still our most reliable unit. I want the game in their hands every time.


Two games ago, I would have agreed with you. Last week, against the Texans, I would have went for the FG on 4th and 2. Why? Because of the way the defense was kicking the Texans azzes.

I know it has been a long time since we could trust the defesne around here, but I think it is time for the bandwagon to start loading up.


We have a defense! :toast:

Dang, that felt good to say!

Lightning Rod
10-05-2004, 10:50 AM
I am usually all for going for it. Last night I agreed with the call. The Ravens have a very good defense and had on a number of occasions stuffed the run. Against most other teams I think we should just line up and shove it down their throat. FWIW Barker is a $hitty punter. We would probably be better off if he just kicked it out of bounds every time eliminating any chance of a runback.

siberian khatru
10-05-2004, 10:50 AM
Last week, against the Texans, I would have went for the FG on 4th and 2. Why? Because of the way the defense was kicking the Texans azzes.


I would've kicked the FG against Houston, too, but because it was a chip-shot. We didn't have a chip-shot last night, and remember on the previous drive the Ravens marched down the field on our D and scored 7.

Again, the D played very well last night, but I still trust the O more than the D. I would've put the game in Priest's (and the O-line's) hands on 3rd and 4th down at the Ravens 34.

HC_Chief
10-05-2004, 10:53 AM
Again, the D played very well last night, but I still trust the O more than the D. I would've put the game in Priest's (and the O-line's) hands on 3rd and 4th down at the Ravens 34.
Agreed.... with the caveat NO TOSS SWEEPS!!!! I HATE it when we toss the ball 4-yards behind the LOS on 3rd & short.

Coogs
10-05-2004, 10:54 AM
I would've kicked the FG against Houston, too, but because it was a chip-shot. We didn't have a chip-shot last night, and remember on the previous drive the Ravens marched down the field on our D and scored 7.

The Ravens benifited from a bogus PI call on 3rd and 8 to get that TD. Should have been a FG.

donkhater
10-05-2004, 11:00 AM
I am usually all for going for it. Last night I agreed with the call. The Ravens have a very good defense and had on a number of occasions stuffed the run. Against most other teams I think we should just line up and shove it down their throat. FWIW Barker is a $hitty punter. We would probably be better off if he just kicked it out of bounds every time eliminating any chance of a runback.
Yep. The same thing I thought. Also The ravens had been the beneficiaries of good field position all night. I don't think Boller can lead a team 80-90 yards on any defense.

I thought punting it was the right call since it was a pooch punt and odds are the returner would either let it drop or fair catch it so there was no fear of a return.

Having said that, I was still quesy.

Cochise
10-05-2004, 11:09 AM
At the time I was thinking "go for it", but then by the time the play actually happened, I agreed with the call.

I was trying to think of a touchdown that the defense had given up so far in the game... couldn't come up with one, other than a gadget play and one that wouldn't have happened but for a BS penalty.

The defense was playing well. It doesn't change the fact that the punter sucks, but the defense had played well all night, I thought it was the right thing to do.

Why is it the wrong call to tap into a defense that was clearly playing lights-out?

Why is it the wrong call to ask the last ranked passing team in the league to drive in the closing minutes of the game if they want to beat you?

Would you do that to the Rams, or to John Elway, or to Joe Montana? Hell no. But to the Ravens? Why not?

Iowanian
10-05-2004, 11:11 AM
My biggest concern with that choice was this.........The Ravens had returned a TD, and pretty much every other kick they had recieved to the 50. The Ravens Defense is pretty stout, and alot more likely to make a big play than their offense.

Kick coverage is attrocious. Was Boerigter that big of a loss on Punt coverage? Put Beisel back out there too...........

I didn't cuss the punt, but it concerned me. Balt could have easily returned that punt 10 yards behind the LoS if they'd gone and failed.

They didn't...The Defense manned up and got it done.


Eric Hicks should shut up until he has more sacks than Lionel Dalton.

donkhater
10-05-2004, 11:16 AM
Whitlock nailed it last week. You cannot make game management decisions before the game. You must take the way the opponent is playing, get a sense of momentum, the consequence should your decision not be correct, etc. Add in field position, score and time remaining, and those can't be predetermined before the game.

KC got stuffed plenty behind the line last night and 4th and 2 is no gimme. Punt the ball and make that crappy QB make a play.

Against the Colts? Maybe you go for it. Their defense is much weaker and their offense much more capable of going down the field for a score to win the game.

Again, each situation is different.

donkhater
10-05-2004, 12:46 PM
My biggest concern with that choice was this.........The Ravens had returned a TD, and pretty much every other kick they had recieved to the 50. The Ravens Defense is pretty stout, and alot more likely to make a big play than their offense.

Kick coverage is attrocious. Was Boerigter that big of a loss on Punt coverage? Put Beisel back out there too...........

I didn't cuss the punt, but it concerned me. Balt could have easily returned that punt 10 yards behind the LoS if they'd gone and failed.

They didn't...The Defense manned up and got it done.


Eric Hicks should shut up until he has more sacks than Lionel Dalton.
That's one thing I didn't worry about. It was essentially a pooch punt so the odds of a return were VERY long. The returner in that situation either fair catches it or lets it bounce.

Calcountry
10-05-2004, 12:59 PM
I was wrong. I said, pre start of the drive, that if the Chiefs were in a 4rth and short inside the Ravens 40, they should go for it. Sure enough the situation arose, and he punted.

I am glad it worked out, but, with thatawesome Defense, who is to say that they couldn't have stopped them from the 34 yard line just as well as the 15?