For a team struggling to find anything positive, the Kansas City Chiefs showed something on Monday night in their overtime loss to Pittsburgh.
They played mad. They played angry. They played with a sense of urgency absent for much of the season.
In particular, two instances stood out for a team, city and fanbase that is struggling to pull any positives from weekend after weekend of crippling defeats.
The team’s signal caller has made no one a believer this season. This is a given. Despite pulling in more than $50 million in his brief career, Matt Cassel has been downright miserable. He has an armada of weapons on offense ranging from the “fire and ice” ground attack of Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis to a superstar receiver in Dwayne Bowe to an ideal combo guy in do-it-all athlete Dexter McCluster. But, this is still a team that can’t put points on the board. The classic good between the 20s team that can’t score touchdowns.
Losing can breed apathy. But, Monday night, Cassell showed fire, determination and a contagious energy. On a 3rd down scramble in the third quarter, Cassell dove for the extra yardage, picking up the extra set of downs in the process. But what followed was far from the listless emotion this team has emmanated for the majority of the season. Cassell sprung up, swung his fists and screamed demonstratively. Emotion, which was immediately echoed by his offensive linemen.
Signs of life from a relatively pulseless bunch.
Just minutes later, we saw more “positivity” on the defensive side of the ball. Unfortunately, it was misplaced—and somewhat juvenile—energy, but team-bonding nonetheless. Steelers back-up quarterback Byron Leftwich attempted a pass that slid through his throwing hand. The referees treated it like a fumble and Kansas City linebacker Justin Houston scooped the ball up and took it to the house. His ensuing solo celebration was quickly interrupted with several of Houston’s teammates joining the boogie. It was funny, childish, earned a penalty for excessive celebration and was ultimately moot as the play was called back after review determined it was an incomplete pass.
But for a few seconds, this much-mocked team was once again, a team. They were together; not fractured. They were celebrating with gusto, not hanging their heads in collective dejection.
Granted, this season has been over for the Chiefs for some time. And the historically loyal fan base that has loaded up Arrowhead for years has begun to show outward forms of discontent. Not only towards the players and the results, but more specifically towards the front office and coaching staff that have been pulling the strings—the group that loaded the roster with talented position players but failed to provide the pieces essential in today’s NFL, specifically a competent quarterback and a dynamic pass rush. This team lacks both and it has shown every Sunday this season.
But, for one Monday, there was life.