The truth can be unexpected. The unexpected truth for the AFC West in Wild Card weekend was that the team expected to make noise didn’t and the team expected to go home didn’t. The truth can also hurt, and the loss suffered by the Kansas City Chiefs may hurt more than any loss in playoff history, blowing a 38-10 lead. The Houston Oilers may disagree, but this one felt like a fresh wound.
Truthfully, there were many standouts this Wild Card weekend but here are a few who made our list:
For as much heat as he takes for being just a game manager, he managed the game well without the team’s best player most of the game. Jamaal Charles went down in the first quarter and Smith continued to play well and put his team in position to win. Smith was 30-of-46 for 378 yards and four touchdowns. Those types of numbers should win games. Even after the Indianapolis Colts came back to take the lead, Smith hit Dwayne Bowe with a pass that should have put his team in position for the winning field goal. Of course, Bowe would go on to drop that pass and end the Chiefs season.
With the money being thrown around at quarterbacks, Smith is a bargain of a talent. According to Rotoworld.com, Smith is scheduled to make $7.5 million next season.
Sometimes a player is not appreciated until he is no longer available. The Chiefs lost several key players during the game but Flowers may have been the most important defender. Flowers is not talked about much as one of the best cornerbacks in the league but once he went down yesterday, Andrew Luck’s luck began to change. He is the Chiefs best cover corner and without him the secondary seemed lost.
Wisenhunt is rumored to be the front-runner for a couple head coaching jobs but his focus has remained with his current assignment. Wisenhunt has helped Philip Rivers return to the form of a franchise quarterback, which may not come as a surprise because of his work with Ben Roethlisberger and Kurt Warner. What has been shocking is his commitment to the run game. Against the Cincinnati Bengals, he called 40 running plays to 17 passing plays. All three of the Charger running backs were able to have success and the Bengals had no answer.
The Chargers defense has been the weak link of the team much of the season, and on Sunday they were definitely a strength. The defense was able to record three sacks but more important than the tackles was the constant pressure. Andy Dalton threw two picks and had a fumble. He also missed a few throws due to defenders being in his face. The secondary kept one of the best young receivers in the game in check, A.J. Green, and limited big plays. In the second half the Bengals had chances but the Chargers kept shutting them down. This is the best time of year for the defense to be playing its best football.
Photo Courtesy: Sean M. Haffey