If you watched the Chiefs jaw-dropping, come-from-behind victory over Denver Sunday night you likely went through a myriad of emotions. You probably cursed, screamed for the quarterback to be replaced, told Cairo Santos how much you hated him…followed immediately by how much you loved him and went off to bed wondering how it all happened.
At this point, there are no real answers for how this team keeps winning. We saw this team absolutely dead in the water week 1 against San Diego before winning dramatically in overtime. Just under three weeks ago, the team was completely lifeless deep in the game at Carolina before Marcus Peters and Eric Berry willed the team back from the dead.
It’s certainly not flashy, or “sexy” as they call it now. This offense is ranked near the bottom of the league in many statistical categories. Quarterback Alex Smith will never be confused with Tom Brady or Aaron Rogers. Currently, the Chiefs are still dealing with injuries in key positions (although they hope to get Dee Ford and Jeremy Maclin back this week). However, the truth is simple: in today’s NFL you better be in the business of winning football games. Head coach Andy Reid has brought winning football to Kansas City over the past 3 and 1/2 seasons.
With game highlights mostly buried during Sportscenter broadcasts and national pundits constantly telling you that the Raiders are the next big thing, or “no one is beating the mighty Patriots!” It’s hard to justify sometimes what you are actually seeing. So quietly the Chiefs have won 18 of their last 21 games going back to last season. Reid’s formula is absolutely working here in Kansas City, but success at the highest level has eluded this regime (and this franchise for the better part of four decades).
If you are a Chiefs fan that questions whether a Superbowl can be won with Alex Smith at the helm, you are probably not alone. Smith may be one of the more polarizing players in the NFL- written off by some as a mere lifeguard of the Chiefs offense. This is a quarterback who has only thrown 24 interceptions since arriving in Kansas City back in 2012. His 10 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in 2016 are not going to open up any fantasy owners’ eyes yet he continues to win games. Smith is clearly a limited player, however. His strengths of being “safe” and “solid” often do not pass the eye test as KC’s offense has struggled mightily at times under his watch. It’s like watching a 4 hour Bruce Springsteen concert. It’s not overly exciting, there are no lasers or pyro, but at the end of the night you feel like you got your money’s worth.
“People can talk, they can say what they want to say,” Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston said. “We believe in him in the locker room, that’s all that matters.”
Despite an 8-3 start and with the team only a game behind Oakland in the AFC West, there’s still this feeling of despair and defeat hanging over the city. Many believe you can’t win with Smith or an offense that struggles for entire games at a time, but simply have not grasped the fact that Andy Reid is winning his way: with a defense that forces turnovers and an offense that won’t kill you. We’ve seen the Denver Broncos win a Superbowl with a quarterback who played far worse than Alex Smith last season, but yet no one wants to believe yet. These are the same fans who got on board and rode a wave of unfathomable momentum as the Kansas City Royals willed themselves to two straight World Series appearances against all odds.
Perhaps it’s time to put the teams’ past failures and years of heartache aside in hopes of witnessing something bigger happening. We all marveled as the Chiefs thrilled us and made our jaws drop for the better part of 3 hours Sunday night in Denver. We’ve seen this franchise go 2-14 just four short years ago with a hapless Matt Cassel at the helm. Most of us know all too well about Lin Elliot, the ’97 Broncos, the ’03, ’06 and ’13 Colts and sometimes it’s hard to put past emotions aside for fear of getting hurt.
Let’s see what kind of ride this team take’s us on. Let’s see if a healthy Justin Houston and Dee Ford and wreck the league the way Denver’s Von Miller did a year ago in route to a championship. Let’s see if Marcus Peters and Eric Berry are up for more game-changing interceptions or fumble recoveries, because sometimes funny things happen in sports when a group of people simply believe in where they are going.