Kansas City, Mo. The Kansas City Chiefs made their anticipated quarterback switch Sunday, replacing veteran Damon Huard with second-year man and training-camp favorite Brodie Croyle.
It remains to be seen how the team will respond on the field, but in the locker room teammates spoke of Croyle's performance as a bright spot in their 27-11 loss to the Denver Broncos.
"I'm not going to say I'm glad Damon went out so Brodie could come in and play," tight end Tony Gonzalez said. "It's one of those things that happens. He got hurt, Brodie came in and played, and I think he did what everyone expected him to do. He played well and managed the ball well."
Huard left just a minute and a half into the third quarter after turning the ball over twice on the Chiefs' first four plays of the half, leading to two Denver touchdowns that turned a two-point halftime lead into a 12-point deficit.
Fans booed him when he took the field the last time - and promptly fumbled into the arms of a defender - and cheered wildly when Croyle took the field minutes later.
Huard apparently sustained a neck injury, but Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said he would have switched to Croyle - who struggled in the preseason, the last time he saw extensive playing time - anyway.
"You can put this one right on me," Huard said, declining to disagree with his benching. "When you turn the ball over the way I did, you're not going to have a chance to win."
The new quarterback immediately pieced together a scoring drive, pulling the Chiefs within nine points. Croyle's remaining drives resulted in a missed field goal, a three-and-out, an interception and a turnover on downs on Denver's three-yard line.
"Brodie came in and moved the ball at times," Edwards said. "But we didn't score points."
Under Huard, the offense managed 113 yards. Croyle, who said he took half the first-team snaps this week in practice, led K.C. to 171 yards in slightly less time while the Chiefs were playing catch-up.
Edwards said he had not decided on a starter for this week's game at Indianapolis, but some players noticed a difference when the youngster was under center.
"It was the same offense," rookie receiver Dwayne Bowe said, "but guys got open, and they protected better."
Gonzalez said he was willing to try anything to revive the Chiefs' once-dominant offense.
"I hope they figure it out, because it's frustrating," Gonzalez said of K.C.'s offensive ineptitude. "If Brodie is the future quarterback of this team, then I think it's important to make that change, to do it now rather than do it later. That way we can get used to him and everybody can rally around him and he can get that confidence. If we make it to the playoffs, we're going to need that."
The Chiefs (4-5) and Broncos trail the San Diego Chargers by one game in the AFC West.