It was in the hugs and the high-fives. It was in the fist pumps and the cheers. It was in the war chant being belted out by fans on the walk in and out of the stadium.
Everyone felt it and everyone knew. On Monday, professional football in Kansas City became relevant again.
|Chiefs fans cheered loudly as the team was introduced prior to Monday's showdown with the Chargers.|
The players seemed to feel something similar, if their collective comments after the game were any indication.
"Very happy," Dexter McCluster exclaimed.
"The fans were amazing," Glenn Dorsey stated.
"We've got a lot of work to do," Mike Vrabel would say.
The Chiefs, overall, were outgained on offense by almost 200 yards. We can attribute some of that to the team dominating field position all game due to spectacular special teams play, but it probably had more to do with the offense going one of 11 on third down conversions.
This, naturally, leads us right back to Cassel. The quarterback controversy talk is quickly gaining steam, and we're a poor performance Sunday in Cleveland away from the speculation to be in full effect.
Still - and even if this would be a tough conclusion to come to had the Chiefs lost - the good absolutely outweighed the bad. Aside from Berry, the 2010 rookie draft class shined Monday night. There was the McCluster punt return for a touchdown. The Chiefs' other second-round pick and more primary return man, Javier Arenas, almost broke free on two other returns and gave the offense great field position all night. Tight end Tony Moeaki caught three passes, including one for a score.
Underachievers from past draft classes also stepped up. Derrick Johnson, the Chiefs' first-round pick in 2005, had twelve tackles and was all over the field all evening. Dorsey, the teams' top pick in 2008, pressured Rivers multiple times and made a huge tackle in the backfield during the final series of the game.
You get the feeling Monday was the Chiefs' coming out party. McCluster, who's had 'star' written all over him since the day he was drafted, lived up to the hype in a big way. Charles continued his campaign to be considered the greatest backup running back of all time.
Best of all, the defense held strong, thanks to an electric crowd at Arrowhead which had the stadium rocking well past midnight. For the first time in a long time, it felt like the days of old.
"By no means was this our Super Bowl," he said. "And by no means do we think that we're done winning games."
Fine. But for a fanbase and team starved of a playoff victory for almost two full decades, celebrating as if it were the Super Bowl seems justified.
It sure felt like it.