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tk13
11-07-2005, 01:50 AM
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/sports/13100347.htm

Vermeil sensed this was go time
JOE POSNANSKI
Kansas City Star

Chiefs president/CEO/general manager/disco king Carl Peterson stands up against the glass in his box at Arrowhead Stadium. He watches with some blend of excitement and panic. Numbers swirl in the air.

Ball on the Oakland 1.

Chiefs down 3.

Clock reads 0:05.

Time for one play.

A crowd of 79,033 goes mad.

A season teeters. This is one of those sports moments that tells you what’s inside. What do you do? Go or no? In the press box, opinions split like Kenny and Renee. Half in the box demand the field goal — get the tie and send the game into overtime. The safe play.

Half in the box say go — win this game with one bold play.

“I just figured,” Vermeil would say, “I’m too old to wait.”

The Chiefs go for the win. They call their play 20-Z Blast, the simplest, straightest, most violent run in the playbook. The play begins with Will Shields, one of the greatest offensive guards in the game’s history. He is supposed to turn a defensive lineman. Then, Jason Dunn, Brian Waters and Tony Richardson slam into the gap next to Shields. Altogether, that’s 1,150 pounds of blocking — the weight of an adult polar bear.

At the same time, quarterback Trent Green takes the snap, hands the ball to running back Larry Johnson, 230 pounds himself. He takes the ball, runs to where the defense bends. He leaps into the end zone.

“I don’t like to leap,” Johnson would say.

That’s 20-Z Blast. Basic as the multiplication table. If the Chiefs can move the Raiders backward, they win. If not, they lose.

The ball is snapped. Shields turns his man. Dunn and Waters take out so many Raiders, Tony Richardson does not have anyone left to block. Johnson leaps into the end zone.

The Chiefs beat the Raiders. The season is alive again.

And up in his box, Carl Peterson smashes his hands against the window. The glass shatters and falls on him while the crowd flips out. The Chiefs rush the field; the place is madness. While the Chiefs kick the cherry-on-top extra point, Peterson washes the glass out of his hair and face. He rushes downstairs to hug everybody.

“How about the guts of the head coach?” he asks.

What a call. It’s easy now to say that you would have done the same thing. I was one of those people in the press box saying the Chiefs should go for the win. Simple mathematics. If they had kicked a field goal, the game would have gone into overtime. That means winning was just about a 50-50 proposition.

I thought the Chiefs had a better than 50-50 chance to score from the 1.

But coaching pro football is about more than math. There were no talk shows when Sir Isaac Newton invented calculus (if there were, Louie from Louisville would have called in to say, “Oh man, you know Leibniz invented calculus first!”).

The truth is, Dick Vermeil faced the quintessential coaching decision. Go or no? Take one bold shot at winning now or tie the game, take a deep breath and try to win it later? Go by the book (the book says kick) or roll the dice?

On another day, Vermeil admits, he might have kicked the field goal. Most coaches, I think, would have kicked there. Coaches, in general, do not let their games come down to one round of showdown poker. Too much luck involved. No, most coaches I know would rather keep the game going as long as possible. They figure the longer their teams are alive, the better chance they have of winning.

Vermeil is like that, too. He says he has never tried anything this bold in his coaching life. He says if the ball had been at the 2, he would have kicked. Gambling it all on one play goes against his nature.

But he could feel that this play was different. This game was different. This season was different. Go or no? The players wanted to go. Players always want to go. “If we had kicked there,” Waters would say after the game, “then I would have wondered if there was something wrong with us. I would have wondered if they had lost faith in our offensive line.”

The fans wanted to go. Fans always want to go, too.

But only Dick Vermeil would have endured the wrath had Larry Johnson not gotten into the end zone. He would have been skewered across the country. He knew it, too. “If we had not made it,” he told reporters, “you guys would have had a lot of fun with that.”

More than anything, though, Vermeil knew that a loss would have more or less killed this season. The Chiefs would have been 4-4, in last place in the AFC West. He would have had a hard time regrouping his players. The Chiefs would have been in line for another forgettable season.

Vermeil made the gutsy call. Vermeil said go.

“It was time,” he said.

It is probably the happiest Chiefs locker room in 10 years.

“Did you block anyone on that last play?” Tony Richardson asks Will Shields.

“You have to ask me that?” Shields yells back. “Don’t you know me?”

Laughter. Hugs. Insults.

“You have a smile on your face,” Richardson says to tight end Tony Gonzalez. “You must have caught some passes.”

“You’re an instigator,” Gonzalez says back.

More hugs. High-fives. Congratulations.

“This was one of the great ones,” Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt says.

“I think we’re as good as any team in the NFL,” Gonzalez says.

“After this, there’s no telling how good we can be,” Waters says.

“I’m going to have a glass of wine,” Peterson says.

There’s no telling what would have happened had Dick Vermeil kicked the field goal at the end of the game. Maybe the Chiefs would have won in overtime. There’s no way to express all the things that could have gone wrong with 20-Z Blast. Quarterback Trent Green might have fumbled the snap. Larry Johnson might have slipped. Someone might have been called for holding. The Raiders may have blown through the blocks.

“Wow, I was scared,” Vermeil says. This was some gamble.

But really, football, life — it’s all a gamble, isn’t it?

“What did you think of the decision to go for it?” someone asks Will Shields.

“I’m not paid to think,” he says.

Saggysack
11-07-2005, 02:00 AM
Coaches, in general, do not let their games come down to one round of showdown poker. Too much luck involved.

That's what I call a coin toss.

Count Zarth
11-07-2005, 02:07 AM
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,

This day shall gentle his condition;

And gentlemen in England now-a-bed

Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,

And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks

That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

:deevee:

the Talking Can
11-07-2005, 04:14 AM
And up in his box, Carl Peterson smashes his hands against the window. The glass shatters and falls on him while the crowd flips out. The Chiefs rush the field; the place is madness. While the Chiefs kick the cherry-on-top extra point, Peterson washes the glass out of his hair and face. He rushes downstairs to hug everybody.


damn....good article

Chieftain58
11-07-2005, 05:16 AM
Thats cool, Ummm I don't know about the Chiefs being as good as anyone in football!

Extra Point
11-07-2005, 05:50 AM
The last drive was something we haven't seen since the Montana toss in '93.

I would have kicked the field goal. I don't see how the Raiders weren't loaded up in the middle, but they were defending the pass. Great call by the coaching staff.

The bandwagon is refueled....

Thig Lyfe
11-07-2005, 06:03 AM
Great game, great article, hoo-rah!

Ari Chi3fs
11-07-2005, 06:26 AM
wow, jopo, that was awesome... i got dingleberries, I mean, Goosebumps.

jynni
11-07-2005, 06:46 AM
And up in his box, Carl Peterson smashes his hands against the window. The glass shatters and falls on him while the crowd flips out.
Awww - to bad there's no film of that.