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Tribal Warfare
12-03-2008, 12:51 AM
Chiefs trying to break habit of losing at Denver (http://www.kansascity.com/sports/chiefs/story/919588.html)
By KENT BABB
The Kansas City Star

Fresh off snapping their latest bad habit, the Chiefs are in the mood to kick another one.

If Kansas City thought a seven-game losing streak was bad, how about one that has lasted through seven years? The Chiefs haven’t won at Denver since 2000, and here they are going back this week for another go at it — against a Broncos team with plenty of their own motivation.

“They’re a handful,” Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said Tuesday during his weekly news conference.

The Chiefs beat Oakland on Sunday, their first victory since Sept. 28. That was at least a temporary end to what Edwards feared was becoming a habit of losing among the rebuilding Chiefs. Most of the players are young and impressionable, and Edwards said Tuesday he was happy they finished a game and ended a streak that already had gotten out of hand.

Now there’s this one. The string has extended through the tenures of three Kansas City coaches; Gunther Cunningham defeated the Broncos before he was replaced by Dick Vermeil in ’01. Edwards has lost a close one, a 9-6 overtime loss in ’06, and a blowout — the Broncos won 41-7 last year — as Denver kept its streak alive.

Edwards has said throughout this season that he’s had to work overtime to make certain players didn’t begin to accept losing as the norm. He has told players they should compare AFC West opponents to their college team’s rival, and he’s hoping that because 17 of the Chiefs were in college this time last year, that might rouse their pride.

“I really harped on that last week,” Edwards said.

Veteran free safety Jarrad Page said the 2-10 Chiefs aren’t in a position to intimidate teams, but they still would do well to avoid letting opponents think they’re easy prey — particularly if those opponents are division rivals.

“Don’t go lose to them,” Page said, “and get them thinking that every year that’s going to happen — every time you show up to play these guys, they’re going to beat you. You don’t want to get into that.”

The Chiefs also don’t want to get into the habit of finding Denver a formidable destination, particularly considering the Chiefs play there each season. Kansas City hasn’t won at the Broncos’ new stadium — Invesco Field no longer is especially new; it opened in ’01 — and Edwards said he hopes some of those impressionable players bring fresh eyes to the environment. At least a third of the players, including those 17 rookies, have never played at Denver.

“That’s somewhat of a good thing,” the coach said. ‘They don’t know what to anticipate when they go there.”

Edwards said that, like the Chiefs’ other streak, the string of futility in Denver — and the mental roadblocks it has thrown up — could end with one victory. History and inexperience and the Chiefs’ own problems aside, Kansas City isn’t playing a team on cruise control. Denver could clinch the division title Sunday, if San Diego loses to Oakland on Thursday, and Edwards said the Chiefs would need their best performance of the season to defeat the Broncos.

They’d need those young players to play older, the older players to be fresh, and some of the mistakes Denver made 10 weeks ago wouldn’t hurt, either. The Chiefs intercepted Jay Cutler twice in that win at Arrowhead, and the Broncos had two more turnovers that helped Kansas City to what was then its first victory in 12 games, dating to last season.

It was a streak they were relieved to end. As has been the case often this season, there’s plenty more work around the corner.

“Win — that’s what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to go win a game,” Edwards said. “You got down by a couple scores, and then never recovered; that’s kind of been the way it’s been. We’ve got to understand that and stay away from that. If you do, you’ve got a chance.”

jjchieffan
12-03-2008, 12:55 AM
How has the losing streak been through 3 coaches. He said in his article that Gunther won in 2000, his last season. That leaves 2 coaches. Vermeil 5 times and Herm twice. Did Babb have Nick Athan write this article for him?