Monday, November 28, 2011

Kansas City Chiefs are a never-ending exercise in patience

At least it went down to the wire at Arrowhead last night.

Posted By on Mon, Nov 28, 2011 at 8:45 AM

Tamba Halis strip of Mewelde Moore wasnt enough.
  • AP
  • Tamba Hali's strip of Mewelde Moore wasn't enough.
These are the times that try Joe Posnanski's soul. The Kansas City Chiefs lost 13-9 to the Pittsburgh Steelers last night. They had a drive to win the game that ended when their top receiver raised his hand to call for the ball then failed to raise his hands to catch that ball when it was thrown. This is a flawed team that I want to be proud of, but it's just that mental mistakes and an anemic offense are slowly turning me into a remote-throwing, head-shaking, full-out-cussing-out-my-television-screen citizen of Kansas City.

Let's just take it quarter by quarter because the game in its entirety is still a little hard to swallow.

Quarter One: It was 36 degrees at game time, and the crowd was roaring, perhaps loudest when Steelers' safety Troy Polamalu wobbled off the field with what is now being called "concussion symptoms." The Chiefs are sporting their playoff beards, although the playoffs are seemingly more and more unlikely. Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is looking more and more like Russell Crowe when he lets himself go for a movie role.

The defense has again started the game with purpose. Tamba Hali strips Mewelde Moore at the goal line to prevent a touchdown. The offense also appears to have a purpose, although sadly it appears to be helping the Steelers cover the spread. Tyler Palko muffs the snap on the ensuing Chiefs' possession, setting up the tone for the night. The defense will shut down an elite offense, while the Chiefs' offense will make an opposing defense look elite (even without one of its elite players). After another solid stop by the home team, Palko throws a pick on the next snap he takes.

Quarter Two: Three snaps, three turnovers. There may not be anything more frustrating in the world than watching an inept offense attempt to move the football. The screen shows the average starting position for the Steelers — it's the Chiefs' 37-yard line. It's somehow 13-6 at the half.

Quarter Three: Steelers' offensive lineman Max Starks is holding Tamba Hali like it's the last slow dance in eighth grade. Meanwhile, Chiefs' coach Todd Haley is starting to look like a calculated risk taker. A play after Javier Arenas is stoned in the wildcat formation, he runs for a first down on a fake punt with two minutes to go in the quarter. Rather than a no-huddle offense, this could be the most successful Chiefs' offensive philosophy in the second half of the season — it's always four-down territory.

Quarter Four: The Chiefs have put together an actual drive with the running and the passing. That is, until, Anthony Becht tackles Jackie Battle on third-and-short. The problem? Becht is a tight end for the Chiefs, and the two bump into each other behind the line. This is a plot device in Little Giants, not the way a pro offense should operate.

Haley opts for a field goal attempt with seven minutes to go and all three of his timeouts left. The lead is cut to four, and somewhere Jack Harry is having an aneurysm. The Chiefs do get the ball back and proceed to move down the field again in five-to-eight-yard chunks in a lurching, ground-churning drive. Palko has appeared to find his rhythm, right up until the moment when he throws this third interception of the night after Bowe fails to even extend his arms to make a potential catch.

The Chiefs have scored one touchdown on their last 45 drives, a span of four games. The defense is being left out on the field in situations bordering on ludicrous. And I'm starting to feel guilty for how often I maligned Haley for appearing angry on the sidelines. This is not Madden football; this is maddening football.

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