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Old 09-26-2011, 05:16 AM  
Tribal Warfare Tribal Warfare is offline
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Babb: Chiefs lose 20-17 to Chargers but gain a symbol

Chiefs lose 20-17 to Chargers but gain a symbol
By KENT BABB
The Kansas City Star

SAN DIEGO | He stood in an unlit corner, easy to miss, dressing after a game that again went sideways for the Chiefs. Dexter McCluster pulled on a shirt, grabbed his travel bag and whipped back his dreadlocks.

“There’s going to be a lot of people saying we can’t do it,” he said. “People saying we can’t win a game. But you know what? We’ve all been told that. Not just me.”

On Sunday, the Chiefs lost another one, this time 20-17 to the San Diego Chargers. But in the loss, Kansas City might finally have discovered an identity that it lacked in blowout losses the previous two weeks. This team turned to McCluster at Qualcomm Stadium to be its primary running back, a week after Jamaal Charles’ season-ending knee injury and a short while after veteran Thomas Jones was ineffective in the first half Sunday. More than that, the Chiefs seem to have turned to McCluster as a symbol there might be more to this team — and its players and chances — than appearances.

Not long after the final whistle, players dressed in a locker room not shrouded in confusion, frustration or shame. After losses to Buffalo and Detroit, and safety Eric Berry and Charles sidelined because of ACL tears, the outlook appeared bleak. But for the first time this season, players instead discussed hope and how the Chiefs might finally have figured out what it is, rather than dwelling on what it isn’t.

“The record shows 0-3 right now,” fullback Le’Ron McClain said. “But I know today, man, you saw a team out there. Everybody’s got each other’s back now.”

Several players said it’s because, odd as it was during a loss, the Chiefs came to an understanding Sunday that a strong will can defy appearances. McClain was told for years that he wouldn’t be a reliable pass-catcher in the NFL. Defensive end Glenn Dorsey was told in high school that he was too short to play in college. Another end, Tyson Jackson, was told that kids from his small Louisiana town are long shots to attend and graduate from college.

“I heard a lot of, ‘You can’t,’ ” Jackson said. “Just gives you something to thrive on, some type of motivation.”

In the old days, McCluster heard that often. He was 7 the first time he can remember it, and even his mother thought he was too small for full-contact football. He begged her, and when she relented, young Dexter ran into another roadblock: He wasn’t old enough, either. He said Sunday that his family “pulled some strings,” and before long, the 70-pounder was running around on the fields of southern Florida, zipping here and there, running away from defenders and limitations.

“It was like, ‘You know what?,’ ” he said Sunday. “ ‘I can do it. I don’t care if he’s bigger than me. I don’t care if he’s faster than me. I’m going to show him that there’s something different about me.’ ”

McCluster became a star at Mississippi, small still — he’s generously listed now at 5-feet-8 and 170 pounds — and Jackson admitted Sunday that he and the LSU defense learned the hard way that the versatile McCluster isn’t quite what he appears.

Drafted in the second round last year, McCluster began this season as a forgotten member of the Chiefs’ offense. He was far behind Charles and Jones at running back, hidden behind Dwayne Bowe, rookie Jonathan Baldwin and free-agent acquisition Steve Breaston at receiver.

Then Charles hit the turf Sept. 18 at Ford Field, and the Chiefs entered a state of panic. The season was finished. The Chiefs were devoid of playmakers. The offense was doomed. McCluster, of course, hadn’t helped his case to be taken seriously as a fill-in: His two fumbles overshadowed the 106 total yards and big-play ability he’d shown against the Bills and Lions.

On Sunday in San Diego, McCluster and the Chiefs faced a brutal test. The Chargers are one of the NFL’s better teams, and Kansas City was outscored 89-10 in its first two contests. McCluster didn’t have a carry in the first half, when the Chiefs had zero first downs and faced another double-digit deficit.

The Chiefs shifted directions after halftime, looking toward McCluster for a boost. He finished with nine carries for 45 yards, including a 16-yarder, and five catches. He kept getting hit, sometimes spinning in midair, and each time, he kept getting back up. More important, he kept hanging onto the football, and in part it was McCluster’s presence that gave the Chiefs a chance in a game they had no business keeping close.

“It’s never pleasant to have a lot of people tell you you’re no good,” coach Todd Haley said. “But like I said to the guys: ‘You go through our team, our coaching staff, we’ve got a lot of guys — a lot — that have been told no, you can’t do this, most of your lives. … And these guys, our team, they haven’t accepted no as an answer. I don’t think that’s going to start now.”

In the locker room Sunday, players brushed aside questions about kicker Ryan Succop’s missed 38-yard field goal. They avoided recounting Matt Cassel’s game-sealing interception. Instead, they pointed to the little man in the corner, figuring that’s who the Chiefs could be like if they set their minds to it the way he has always done.

Before McCluster left the locker room and headed toward the team’s bus, he looked around a locker room full of imperfect players, in an imperfect situation. No, Sunday didn’t go as well as it could. But if the Chiefs lost another game, they at least realized what they are — and what they could be.

Asked about low expectations, McCluster stood there and smiled.

“They’re going to doubt me all the time,” he said. “But you know what? They will not be able to ignore me.”

And the team?

“They’re probably going to do that, too,” he said. “But we don’t doubt ourselves.”

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Old 09-26-2011, 06:08 AM   #2
ThatRaceCardGuy ThatRaceCardGuy is offline
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Old 09-26-2011, 06:21 AM   #3
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So this means the Vikings will jump out to a big lead at half and we will roar back and lose by only 3 again. Got it.
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Old 09-26-2011, 06:39 AM   #4
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I can think of a pretty damn funny parody to this article....
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Old 09-26-2011, 07:00 AM   #5
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Oh whatever, "moral victories" are for LOSERS. Far too many seasons of suckage have gone on for all that. Too many people running this show and the last one have done things wrong. This team should be farther along than it is now. You don't build a team through two GM's and 3 head coaches only to make the playoffs 3 times a decade and then collapse each year afterwards...
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Old 09-26-2011, 07:04 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by WhiteWhale View Post
I can think of a pretty damn funny parody to this article....
Yeah, it would have been hilarious if you had posted it.
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Old 09-26-2011, 07:08 AM   #7
Count Zarth Count Zarth is offline
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Count Zarth is obviously part of the inner Circle.Count Zarth is obviously part of the inner Circle.Count Zarth is obviously part of the inner Circle.Count Zarth is obviously part of the inner Circle.Count Zarth is obviously part of the inner Circle.Count Zarth is obviously part of the inner Circle.Count Zarth is obviously part of the inner Circle.Count Zarth is obviously part of the inner Circle.Count Zarth is obviously part of the inner Circle.Count Zarth is obviously part of the inner Circle.Count Zarth is obviously part of the inner Circle.
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Old 09-26-2011, 07:11 AM   #8
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I can think of a Symbol, It is Matt Cassel flipping all the Chiefs fans the Bird while holding $60 Million dollars and having his hat fall off.

Wait on edit....the hat doesn't have any Chiefs icons on it, but has "Pro Bowl Quarter Back (alternate) 2010" on it
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Old 09-26-2011, 07:20 AM   #9
Hydrae Hydrae is offline
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I hate to say it to all you rooting for Luck but I listened to the broadcast of a team that didn't give up yesterday. They still have some talent and fought to a near standstill against a good team on the road. If Baldwin is the player we all thought he was when we drafted him this team will cause some headaches for other teams down the road and, heaven forbid, win a few games in the process.

Given that, Cassell has got to go. Period.
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Old 09-26-2011, 07:37 AM   #10
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I hate to say it to all you rooting for Luck but I listened to the broadcast of a team that didn't give up yesterday. They still have some talent and fought to a near standstill against a good team on the road. If Baldwin is the player we all thought he was when we drafted him this team will cause some headaches for other teams down the road and, heaven forbid, win a few games in the process.

Given that, Cassell has got to go. Period.
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Old 09-26-2011, 07:40 AM   #11
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Moral victory = Oh I'm a crybaby pussy like Mike Vick....WAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
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Old 09-26-2011, 08:41 AM   #12
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I hope Arrowhead is EMPTY this weekend for the Minnesota game.

Clark really thinks that moral victories are going to appease the fan base? Good luck with that. This is like the Arab Spring and Suck for Luck is the rallying cry. We are DONE with mediocre, shitty football. The fans are rising up.

The bigger question is why would the dickless KC Star go with such a pathetic headline.

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Old 09-26-2011, 08:49 AM   #13
durtyrute durtyrute is offline
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Gain A Symbol?



How's that for a symbol bitch!!
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Old 09-26-2011, 08:50 AM   #14
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Here is the 2011 symbol.
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Old 09-26-2011, 08:52 AM   #15
Count Zarth Count Zarth is offline
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We will overcome this... 5-3 at the end of the 2 quarter of the season... #CHIEFS

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