Chiefs players might feel terrible this morning, but they pulled off a rather impressive feat last night. Despite losing Jamaal Charles, inarguably their best offensive player, to a possible concussion six plays into the game, Kansas City's offense still produced 44 points. It's a shame that the Colts scored 45.
Even though Charles was out for the game, the Chiefs offense did impressively well with his backup. Near the beginning of the third quarter, quarterback Alex Smith threw to Knile Davis, Kansas City's second running back, to give the Chiefs a 38-10 lead. But then, with 100 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns, Davis was injured in the fourth quarter. Next man up? Cyrus Gray. Who? Exactly. (Gray totaled two rushes for five yards.)
Kansas City didn't just suffer ailments to its ground game. Donnie Avery, Brandon Flowers, and Justin Houston all had injuries that took them out of the game. The Chiefs were slowly falling apart as they tried to hold on to a huge lead. When the team lost its best two running backs, best cornerback, second wide receiver, and powerful pass-rushing presence, Kansas City lost the ability to kill clock with any run-based drive, one of Smith's better pass-catching options, legitimate coverage on Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton, and pressure on the flappable Andrew Luck. Those are a lot of roles to be filled in with bench players. It was simply unfortunate, and Indianapolis took advantage of a decimated roster.
And that's how a team with a previous 28-point lead finds itself down one, sweating a fourth-and-11, calling a timeout immediately after the two-minute warning. An aside: Andy Reid wasn't being shitty at managing the clock; he was giving the offense a chance for the possible final play of Kansas City's season. The Chiefs only had one timeout, so they weren't going to stop the clock and get the ball back. Instead, Reid checked the defense, adjusted to that, and called an excellent play that gave Dwayne Bowe one-on-one coverage and a chance at the first down. Unfortunately, one of his feet landed out of bounds.
The NFL prides itself on a "next man up" mentality, as if it wants you to be impressed by its players' expendability. But not every guy waiting on the bench is the next Tom Brady or Kurt Warner at his position. Sometimes, there's a pleasant surprise like Knile Davis, but usually, a backup plays like a backup.
Photo: Darron Cummings/AP