Chiefs Paint the Town All-Red
By Eric Paolini
Look good, feel good, play even better. Apparently the Chiefs took this to heart on Sunday. According to Joel Thorman at arrowheadpride.com, the red on red the Chiefs wore was a big hit in the locker room. Thorman quoted safety Eric Berry saying the red on red “added a little more energy”. Now, I don't know if Berry truly thinks wearing the red pants, traditionally worn outside of Kansas City, with the red jersey, traditionally worn in Kansas City, actually had an impact on the field. I will say this; the Chiefs are unbeatable when going all-red. They are 1-0.
However, I think the more likely reason for that perfect record is the two Dallas Cowboys fumbles the Chiefs recovered. There’s a reason “winning the turnover battle” is a cliché. If you turn the ball over, you are more likely to lose. Dallas’ two fumbles occurred in the second half. Mistakes later in the game are tough since there is less time to make up for them. Recovering those fumbles certainly improved the Chiefs’ chances to win.
The Cowboys’ second fumble (a strip-sack of Tony Romo) occurred early in the fourth quarter. Down only four points, the Cowboys weren’t in the worst position, but that’s looking at it after the fact. The Chiefs took the ball over at the Cowboys’ 35-yard line and didn't come away with points. According to advancednflstats.com, the Chiefs were expected to walk away with 2.96 points. (Just for reference, when a team starts at its own 20, a common occurrence, the expected points fall to .34.)
Ultimately, the fumble didn’t kill the Cowboys because the Chiefs didn’t do anything with it. But they would obviously still take the fumble. It took the ball out of the opponent’s hands and improved Kansas City’s chance to win. They just didn’t do anything with it. After the Chiefs recovered the fumble, they promptly picked up a false-start penalty, and it didn't get much better after that. Before the Romo fumble, the Cowboys had a 34% win probability. When they got the ball back less than two minutes later, their win probability dropped to 26%. And that was only because of the Chiefs’ horrible possession. Win probability varies throughout a football game, so an 8% drop isn’t otherworldly. As a reference, after Dallas scored a touchdown on the opening possession of the second half, the Chiefs’ win probability was only 25%. They promptly drove 80 yards and scored a touchdown of their own improving their win probability to 50%.
While this game was close throughout, it turned out to be a tale of two halves. The Chiefs struggled in the first half and were barely hanging on. Dez Bryant had five catches and 100 yards receiving through two quarters and looked like he had broken the Chiefs’ secondary. The Chiefs unwisely had given Jamaal Charles only four carries in the first half. But in the second half, Bryant became (relatively) mortal, Charles had a few more carries, the Cowboys turned the ball over, and the Chiefs won.
Kansas City was right with Dallas the entire time, a team that is usually somewhere between “decent” and “pretty good” year after year. The Chiefs got the win, which ultimately matters. But even so, there was a flash of “bad” Andy Reid -- the Reid who frustrated Philly fans and ignored a talented running back.
It took Charles nine carries on the Chiefs’ final possession to reach a respectable final total of 16. He was involved in the passing game, catching eight passes to lead Kansas City. And yet, the decision seems wrong despite the success overall. Alex Smith should never be a team’s leading rusher. In fact, he led all rushers with 57 yards on eight carries.
Ultimately, the Chiefs won, which is the most important part of the game. Their run defense looked spectacular once again, led by Dontari Poe, who looks poised for a breakout season. The defensive tackle has 3.5 sacks already!
The Chiefs have already matched last year's win total at two and have a share of the division lead. Even if they didn't play the best, they're still looking good. Red pants or not.