Archive for Thursday, October 12, 2006

Resilient Chiefs handling adversity

Kansas City confident despite injury problems, 2-2 record

October 12, 2006


— Would anybody have guessed that Kansas City would boast one of the league's top-rated quarterbacks, but the name on his birth certificate would not be Trent Green?

Or the Chiefs could win a road game when Larry Johnson has as many lost fumbles as Tony Gonzalez has pass receptions?

They may be sitting on a modest 2-2 record, but that does not begin to tell the story of Herm Edwards' surprisingly resilient Kansas City Chiefs.

Happy with the way they've handled a lot of early season adversity, the Chiefs will be headed to Pittsburgh on Sunday with a greater sense of confidence than one might expect of a .500 team playing with a backup quarterback.

"I would think we're getting tougher mentally," said left guard Brian Waters. "I just think with so many new faces, 23, 24 new guys, you don't know what the initial reaction of the team is going to be early in the season. I think we're getting into the mold of what kind of team we're going to be this season."

The blows started falling even before the Chiefs pitched camp when 11-time Pro Bowl left tackle Willie Roaf suddenly retired. Into the breech went Kyle Turley, who is trying to return to the game after a two-year absence with a back injury.

Turley, with a sore back of all things, missed the last two games. But Jordan Black - who struggled mightily last year when Roaf was ailing - came in and played well in victories over San Francisco and Arizona.

Quarterback Trent Green, who had hardly missed a snap in five straight years, took a thunderous head-snapping hit in the Sept. 10 season opener, and out of the shadows stepped Damon Huard.

Most players, though they would never admit it, were wringing their hands. Huard had attempted only one pass since 2000.

Nobody expected him to go 2-1 as a starter while showing remarkable poise and hitting 73 of 104 throws for 769 yards and five TDs.

Huard's 107.4 passer rating and 71.2 completion percentage both rank second in the NFL.

In a come-from-behind 23-20 victory Sunday at Arizona, he passed for 288 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. His performance earned him AFC offensive player of the week.

In all three games, he has shown cool leadership and a fine passing touch. He's managed to guide the team to two wins despite a slump in the ground game that's seen Johnson's per-carry average drop from 5.2 yards last year to 3.7.

"He's a guy who hasn't played a lot in five years and all of a sudden has to go to a pretty tough place to play in Denver and does a pretty good job," Edwards said. "Then he wins two in a row and one on the road where he's actually behind 14-0 in the first quarter. It says a lot about his poise."


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