View Full Version : Gretz: Gambling with the Season

dirk digler
11-07-2005, 10:26 AM

GRETZ: Gambling With the Season
Nov 07, 2005, 8:36:18 AM by Bob Gretz - FAQ

Now that’s something you don’t see every day!

And no, I’m not talking about the Chiefs 27-23 victory over the Oakland Raiders. That’s the sixth consecutive time the red and gold has vanquished the silver and black and it just continues the trend of domination that was established back in 1989 when Carl Peterson and Marty Schottenheimer arrived at Arrowhead Stadium. Since then, the scoreboard reads:

* The Lamar Hunts – 26.
* The Al Davises - 9.

But very few of those previous 34 games, or the 93 total meetings between these teams since 1960 have finished like Sunday’s game. Given a chance to take the conventional way out at the end of regulation, Dick Vermeil decided to roll the dice. With the ball at the one-yard line, no timeouts and five seconds to play, Grandpa loaded up the station wagon and drove to the casino.

He hit the jackpot. Larry Johnson hurtled over the Chiefs offensive line and tumbled into the end zone for the winning touchdown. Vermeil should immediately buy a Power Ball ticket and airplane seat to Las Vegas, and he should take L.J. with him.

So excited was Peterson about the outcome that he broke the glass that separates his private box from the Chiefs Radio Network booth. For years, the Chiefs president and general manager has pounded on that glass in celebration of big plays, touchdowns and so forth. Maybe the glass was worn out, or maybe Carl was pounding as hard as his heart was pounding.

Maybe he was just overwhelmed by his coach’s decision.

“It was a great call, a great decision,” Peterson said after the game. “Of course, both Dick and I know that wouldn’t be what people would say if Larry doesn’t reach the end zone, but that’s ….”

That’s football.

For every team, in every season, there are points in the schedule that are a crossroads. This game was one of those for the Chiefs. There is such a huge difference between being 5-3 at midseason and 4-4, especially this season in a very competitive AFC, where spots in the playoffs are going to be hard to come by. Losing to the Raiders would not have ended post-season hopes for the Chiefs, but it would have severely crippled them. After Sunday’s action, they would have been tied for last place in the AFC West with that 4-4 record.

The Chiefs came into the game with four key players and four former Pro Bowlers on the inactive list. Willie Roaf was out at left tackle, Priest Holmes was out of the offense, Pat Surtain was not on the corner for the Chiefs defense and Dexter McCleon wasn’t available to replace him. Jerome Woods was on the sidelines as well.

Good teams find a way to overcome what they are missing. For a lot of Sunday’s game, the Chiefs couldn’t figure out how to replace Roaf. Their offense was stumbling around, unable to protect Trent Green and producing nothing. They had five first half possessions and only once cracked the Raiders 20-yard line. Forced to settle for a pair of field goals, the Chiefs finished the first 30 minutes with 137 yards of offense and no touchdowns.

The only reason the Chiefs were still in the game was the defense. Gunther Cunningham’s crew produced the best defensive performance this team’s had in some time. They allowed just 129 yards in the first half, even while facing 37 plays. They weren’t sacking Kerry Collins, but they were harassing him with various blitzes and he completed only eight of his 21 passes in the first half. Lamont Jordan had just 52 yards in offense on 12 touches.

The offense improved in the second half, while the defense kept playing rough and tough. They ended up giving up a couple of touchdown passes to Jerry Porter and Randy Moss. But Moss’ only catch was for seven yards and the score and Porter caught seven passes for 68 yards and a touchdown. They did this with Dewayne Washington on one corner and a hobbled Eric Warfield on the other. Warfield eventually left the game, forcing Benny Sapp into the first group during the fourth quarter.

It was the fourth quarter where the Chiefs offense finally stepped forward and they were led by Johnson. He ran for an impressive 15-yard TD run that gave the Chiefs a 20-9 lead. Then when the Raiders caught up with a pair of touchdowns and things looked bleak, it was his 36-yard catch and run to the one-foot line that set up Vermeil’s gamble.

Football coaches make hundreds of decisions in a given week, sometimes a given game. Few are as black and white as what Vermeil faced. The decision had two possible ramifications: a touchdown and a victory, a defensive stop and a loss.

Instead of a broken heart, they just had Peterson’s broken window.

11-07-2005, 10:32 AM
So excited was Peterson about the outcome that he broke the glass that separates his private box from the Chiefs Radio Network booth.

That's AWESOME. Did anyone hear this on the air? And if so, anyone have a clip?

11-07-2005, 01:09 PM
26 - 9. I bet those 9 victories were in the Gannon/Chuckie era.