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View Full Version : SF Chronicle - Vermeil's gamble pays off


Count Zarth
11-07-2005, 12:43 AM
http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/11/07/IRA.TMP


Kansas City -- What is left of the Raiders' season today looks a lot like the glass wall at one side of the private box from which Carl Peterson, the Chiefs' club president and general manager, watches games at Arrowhead Stadium.

Shattered.

That's no coincidence. Oakland's season and Peterson's glass were broken at the same time Sunday, when Kansas City coach Dick Vermeil put his own team's season on the line and survived to tell about it.

Be honest. How many coaches, with time remaining for only one play, even on the 1-foot line, would not have kicked a field goal and played for overtime? At one time, even Vermeil would have played for the tie.

Not now.

"It was pretty ballsy," Raiders receiver Jerry Porter said. "Either score or lose."

"I figured I'm too old to wait," Vermeil, 69, said. "You can do everything by the book all the time ... but it was just time. I figured we could make it, and fortunately, we did. If we had lost, if we had not made it, then you guys would have had a lot of fun with that.

"It was the right thing for us to do. And it made me look smart."

Actually, it was Larry Johnson, who leaped over the pile at the goal line, and Will Shields, who led the blocking, who made Vermeil look smart. And Peterson merely looked chagrined when he jumped up in his box, banging his ring hand against the wall and . . . oops.

At least he won't have to worry about a bill for the damage. Lamar Hunt, the team's owner, didn't mind. Hunt still is haunted by a game in 2002 when the Chiefs scored touchdowns on their last three possessions at New England, kicking an extra point to tie the game with no time remaining in the fourth quarter. The Patriots won the overtime coin toss, drove for a field goal, and won.

"I've always regretted we didn't go for two," Hunt said Sunday.

Vermeil had something like that in mind. The Raiders drove for touchdowns on both of their fourth-quarter possessions, moving first 71 yards and then 84.

"I figured if we lost the toss and kicked off, they may win the game, and I didn't want to give them that opportunity," he said. "I didn't feel safe in giving them that opportunity."

Oakland's only opportunity now is to try to escape last place in the AFC West. The Raiders are 3-5, 1 1/2 games behind the third-place Chargers, and they still must play two games against first-place Denver, including next Sunday, and one at San Diego. The Raiders have lost 13 of 15 division games since the start of the 2003 season.

Once more, as several times this year, Oakland's defense played well enough to win for most of the game, but not when it mattered most. Yet answers were few in coming.

Warren Sapp, who couldn't stop talking after he made three sacks against Tennessee a week earlier, wouldn't start talking this time. Approached with a question, Sapp just shook his head from side to side. Asked if that gesture meant "not now" or "not today," Sapp looked away from his visitor and remained mute.

No matter.

Just take this. Vermeil's gamble was so rare that most everyone already was preparing for overtime. When the Chiefs lined up to run the final play with five seconds remaining, Oakland safety Stuart Schweigert said he figured they would pass, because even if they didn't score on a quick pass to the side, they would have had a second or two left for a field goal try.

Kerry Collins thought Kansas City still had a time out left. Told the Chiefs did not, he stopped talking and went agape.

And even Gunther Cunningham, the Chiefs' defensive coordinator, admitted that not only was he preparing plans for the overtime, he said that, "If I were making the decision, I would have kicked it."

"Let's not talk about it," Cunningham said. "I might throw up while I'm talking."

Good thing Vermeil went with his gut instead of Cunningham's.

Vermeil turned to offensive line coach Mike Solari, a former 49ers' assistant, and asked for the team's best short-yardage play. Vermeil said he would have gone for the touchdown as long as no more than a yard was needed. At a yard and a half, he said, he'd have kicked the field goal.

"Most coaches will go for the three points and wait for overtime," said Lionel Dalton, a Kansas City defensive tackle. "It was a gutsy call. The old Dick would have not went for it, and the new Dick went for it. He says time is running out for him, and you've got to go for it now. You don't want to say, 'I wish I did this (or) that.' So you've got to leave all your cards on the table.

"I think that's going to be a great momentum builder, a confidence builder for us for our offense."

Just what it will be for the Raiders remains to be seen. But we can be pretty sure of this: It almost certainly means another year of no games in January.

Count Zarth
11-07-2005, 01:12 AM
And even Gunther Cunningham, the Chiefs' defensive coordinator, admitted that not only was he preparing plans for the overtime, he said that, "If I were making the decision, I would have kicked it."

"Let's not talk about it," Cunningham said. "I might throw up while I'm talking."

ROFL

|Zach|
11-07-2005, 01:14 AM
Great write up.

ChiefsFanatic
11-07-2005, 01:29 AM
What does it say about DV's confidence in Saunders, that he asked the O-Line coach for the play to run.

AS was once again horrible for most of the game.

Count Zarth
11-07-2005, 01:33 AM
AS was once again horrible for most of the game.

I didn't think he was that bad. Early in the game maybe, but he got better.

People bitch no matter what.

Chiefs throw.

DAMMIT AL! RUN THE BALL

Chiefs run.

DAMMIT AL! STOP RUNNING TO THE LEFT!

ChiefsFanatic
11-07-2005, 01:45 AM
I didn't think he was that bad. Early in the game maybe, but he got better.

People bitch no matter what.

Chiefs throw.

DAMMIT AL! RUN THE BALL

Chiefs run.

DAMMIT AL! STOP RUNNING TO THE LEFT!

I just think there is no committment either way. An example would be the Philly game. We start out running like mad, build a lead, and start throwing cutesy passes, lose our rhythm in the running game, and lose.

Last week we only attacked from hatchmark to sidelines until the second half, making a good defense defend a very little part of the field.

Today, it seemed like we were 3 and out over and over.

I understand that we were missing personell, and that our players are older. But we went from #1 in redzone TD% to #23. That drop can't be assigned only to the players.

But my original statement was meant to judge DV's confidence in AS. I would think on a call like that, the head coach and OC would be the ones having the conversation, not the HC and O-Line coach.