Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hope springs eternal

Things haven't been good in Kansas City sports for quite some time.  The Royals won the World Series in 1985.  Then our manager got a brain tumor and died.  And our owners, possibly the most awesome owners in professional sports history, died.  And all hell broke lose.  We did have one bright season in 1994 when we lead the division.  But we didn't make the playoffs, now did we, because that was the stupid strike season.  So the world missed out on a Kansas City Royals - Montreal Expos World Series.  Since then, we've had one winning season.  We finished over .500 by about 4 games.  It was a fun season in 2003.  We lead the division for most of the season, but we faded in the end and missed out on the playoffs.  And it's been pretty miserable since then.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs haven't given us much more to cheer about.  They haven't been to the Super Bowl since 1970.  The last time we made the playoffs was about 3 seasons ago, and that was just sneaking in with a 9-7 record.  We didn't look very good losing in the first round.  The next two seasons were pretty bad.  We got a new GM and a new coach, but most Chiefs fans were feeling pretty discouraged after last season's fairly miserable results.

The Chiefs powers tried to tell us all that this season would be different, that we should be hopeful, have expectations.  In our draft this spring, all of our picks were captains of their college teams.  We drafted speed and quickness, qualities this team hasn't had in a few years.  Then we got to open the season at home on Monday Night Football.  We haven't seen MNF in several years.  And that opener was against our division foe, the San Diego Chargers, who have totally had our number the past few seasons.  They have definitely been the class of the division.

So cut to that Monday night 3 weeks ago.  Arrowhead was jumping and the weather was the kind of nasty storm only a midwesterner can truly appreciate.  They may have scored first, but before they knew it, our young running back had reeled off a 56 yard TD run.  Our defense had forced a fumble and returned it to the red zone, leading to a TD catch by our rookie tight end (who is looking a lot more Tony Gonzalez-like than I expected), and another rookie blew past them all for a TD punt return.  Just like that, the Chiefs were 1-0 and since all other AFC West teams lost their season openers, we were in sole possession of first place.

Then the second week, we went to Cleveland and came out on top.  2-0 and still in first place.

And yet, coming into week #3, most of the pundits thought San Francisco would come into Arrowhead today and beat us.  Because even though the 49ers were 0-2 and we were 2-0, SF was still supposed to be the better team.  Plus, San Francisco's tight end guaranteed victory.  And everybody knows that Matt Cassel isn't a real NFL quarterback.  Even the guy I chatted with on the street this morning as I walked home from the coffee shop wasn't so sure we could keep winning.  (I told him I was confident we would win today, using slightly more colorful language.)

Happily for Chiefs fans, all those naysayers don't know what they're talking about.  Because Matt Cassel threw a beautiful 45 yard bomb on a flea-flicker.  And then he threw another beauty to our rookie tight end, who made a better catch for a TD than SF's big talking tight end could have.  The only thing that kept the score from being completely embarrassing for SF was the last second TD we let them score.  So they only lost 31-10 instead of 31-3.

So now the Chiefs are 3-0 and Kansas City has a little something to be excited about for the first fall in a while.  And I will have to wear the exact same outfit for at least a 4th Chiefs game day in a row.

UPDATED: Thanks to Indianapolis, Seattle, and Arizona (with an assist from Sebastian Janikowski), the Chiefs now have a 2 game lead in the division a mere 3 games into the season.  No one but the nuttiest of uber-loyal Chiefs fans would have predicted that.

Someone should now tell Rodney Harrison that teams that start 3-0 make the playoffs over 75% of the time.

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