Quality win boosts Kansas City's confidence
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — To paraphrase Winston Churchill, Kansas City's victory over the Steelers was not the end of a long battle to regain respectability.
It was not even the beginning of the end. But maybe it was the end of the beginning.
The Chiefs' first two wins under their new regime hardly counted for much, coming against the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders. But Sunday's 27-24 overtime victory was different. These were the defending Super Bowl champions who were walking away with heads hung low. This was the sort of victory a team can build upon.
"The difference is we were supposed to beat those other teams," said safety Jon McGraw. "A team like the Steelers, to me, that's a different class. I think should be a real confidence-booster for this team."
After winning only four games in 2007 and two in 2008, the Chiefs' slow start under Todd Haley, their demanding rookie head coach, had put a strain on everyone. Starting with a rigorous offseason conditioning program, Haley and new general manager Scott Pioli had been doing everything possible to create an entirely new mind-set.
Then they lost their first five games and discouragement began to set in.
But now the Chiefs have back-to-back wins. Plus, they own a victory over a team that's likely to finish with a winning record. That hasn't happened since the Chiefs beat San Diego on Sept. 30, 2007.
"Up until this game, it's been a lot of faith," said McGraw. "We've been asked to believe that this is going to work without having seen a lot of success or fruit from it. Now I think (this win) can get some of the guys who were sort of on the fence to buy in or to believe this is heading in the right direction. This could be a huge change of mind-set."
Their new confidence will be tested immediately when they travel to San Diego to face a Chargers team that destroyed them in Kansas City 37-7 on Oct. 25.
"Beating the Steelers was huge for this team," said rookie place kicker Ryan Succop, whose 22-yard field goal in overtime won the game. "All the coaches and players have been working really, really hard. It's exciting because we feel like we're getting rewarded for all our hard work."
The victory was especially uplifting for wide receiver Chris Chambers. As a member of the Chargers, he had been 0-3 against the Steelers the past 13 months.
"I think the feeling is definitely good, the confidence is starting to build a little bit," said Chambers, whose 61-yard catch-and-run set up Succop's game-winner. "The guys are starting to surround each other and play for each other. It was a total team victory — offense, defense, special teams. We know now that we're capable of beating a team of that caliber.
"Now, we have to move on and play an even better team next week."
Haley, who's been saying for weeks his team was making progress, noted a different atmosphere in the locker room Monday.
"There was a buzz," he said. "And like I've said a bunch of times, everybody works too hard to not get results. And when you do get good results, it makes it a little more fun."
After grabbing a 7-0 lead on Jamaal Charles' 97-yard return of the opening kickoff, the Chiefs fell behind 17-7 at halftime and 24-17 with 8:35 to go.
"We had many opportunities in that game where we could have folded the tent," Haley said. "And the guys, as they've kind of shown throughout the year, they're going to fight and we just did a better job of executing, which we're going to have to do against that team to have a chance to win. I was very proud of our guys."
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin won’t ask for taunting clarification from league
- Rossi: Steelers rising fast in mediocre AFC
- Heyward, swarming defense get best of Chiefs in Steelers’ win
- Steelers offense learning to slam door
- Steelers-Bengals game to start at 8:30 p.m.
- Chiefs notebook: Trip not intentional, Walker maintains
- Steelers notebook: Gay respects ‘anything’ referees call
- Missed chances haunt Chiefs against Steelers
- Steelers clinch trip to postseason with big victory over Chiefs
- Steelers defensive game changer: Fourth-down stop thwarts Chiefs
- Steelers’ Bell, Chiefs’ Charles elevating running back position in NFL