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Fire Me Boy!
10-02-2006, 06:42 AM

Defense kept its focus on shutout

The situation was now out of his control, so Kawika Mitchell felt as helpless as ever, even going back to the Chiefs’ bleak days on defense.

The Chiefs had the 49ers without a point at the 2-minute warning, but Mitchell and some of the other defensive starters were out of the game because they had the victory well in hand.

So Mitchell did the only thing he could think of. During the break, he called some of the defenders around him and warned them not to let the 49ers ruin the shutout.

“I told them that if they scored, I was going to fine them $1,000 each,” Mitchell, the Chiefs’ middle linebacker, said after their 41-0 win was over. “I wanted the shutout bad. We haven’t had one since I’ve been here. It means a lot to our defense. There’s nothing that shows results, no statistic or anything else, like a shutout.”

Ty Law’s interception on the next play not only saved himself and some of his teammates the one-grand, but it also ensured the Chiefs of their first shutout since they beat Arizona 49-0 in 2002.

The Chiefs also sacked 49ers quarterback Alex Smith five times, forced four turnovers and limited San Francisco to 165 yards.

But, as Mitchell said, nothing says results like a shutout.

“In years past, we probably would have laid back, thinking we had the game won and then won the game 41-10,” defensive end Jared Allen said. “But even the coaches on the sideline were on us to go out there and get the job done.

“The mind-set had changed. We’ve got a swagger about us.”

Linebacker Derrick Johnson had perhaps his best game with the Chiefs. He was credited with 1 1/2 sacks and two other quarterback hits. He also broke up a pass and forced 49ers halfback Frank Gore to fumble.

“Knowing (Smith) is a running quarterback, I did a little spying on him,” Johnson said. “I had man-to-man coverage on the tight end, and when he stayed in to block, I could go get the quarterback. That’s my job.”

The Chiefs made their presence known on San Francisco’s first possession. Tamba Hali sacked Smith and made him fumble, though the 49ers recovered that time. Johnson made Gore fumble on the next play, and the Chiefs took possession.

“The difference was that everybody was making the plays they’re supposed to,” Mitchell said. “In the first two games, we missed interceptions and we missed sacks. In this game, we were on it from the beginning.”

The shutout also brought a smile to coach Herm Edwards, but he also might have been the only one not truly impressed.

“I told you when I took this job that we were going to learn to play defense,” Edwards said. “We’ve got to play even better. That’s just me. I grew up a defensive guy, and I expect that out of them. The expectations are very, very high here.”