Kansas City, Mo. A team that’s lost 28 of 30 games takes encouragement from every little nook, cranny and crawlspace where anything positive might be found.
The Kansas City Chiefs, once the sting went away, saw a few things to like about their 26-20 overtime loss to Dallas.
They made plays in the kicking game, recovering a muffed punt and kicked two field goals. They recovered a fumble. They made some defensive stands, although not enough.
And most of all, an offense with a wounded line and a history of futility found a way to drive 74 yards in 10 plays and get the game tied in the final seconds on Matt Cassel’s 16-yard pass to Dwayne Bowe on fourth down.
In fact, that final drive that tied it 20-all may turn out to be a watershed event as Todd Haley and his coaching staff work to forge a personality and identity for the 0-5 Chiefs.
It was easily the snappiest drive of the entire miserable year for the Chiefs, even more remarkable because left tackle Brandon Albert had gone to the sideline with an apparent ankle injury.
Early in the drive, the Cowboys sacked Cassel for a 4-yard loss. But working quickly out of the shotgun, he found Bobby Wade for 25 yards on third-and-14, connected with Bowe for 17 yards on first down, then got the TD and let Ryan Succop kick the extra point to send it into overtime.
“They pulled together, overcame adversity and overcame some injuries in key spots to give us a chance to play a little longer and win the game,” Haley said Monday. “That’s something we definitely as a team have to build on. I think it’s critical that we recognize some of those positives. There were a lot of guys playing real hard for the whole game.”
The Chiefs may use more of the no-huddle, hurry-up approach when they travel to Washington this week hoping to avoid being the first team in franchise history to start a season 0-6.
“Like I said, we’ve got to build on that situation in a lot of different ways,” Haley said. “That was a tough deal, a tough situation to be put in.”
In a a locker room that was not entirely downbeat Monday, players knew a few good things had happened.
“I think in all three phases there were some positive things to take away from it,” said safety Jon McGraw. “You don’t always have the luxury of looking at that when you lose. You always have to focus on the negative. But at the end of the day guys realized there was some good football played out there.”
Dallas fans looking for reasons to fire coach Wade Phillips may be pointing to a rash of mistakes the Cowboys made, seemingly trying to hand the game to the Chiefs with a fumble, a muffed punt, a whopping 13 penalties for 90 yards, a missed field goal and several receivers who dropped throws or watched them sail over their outstretched hands.
The Cowboys did not pretend that they had played particularly well.
“I don’t know what it’s going to look like or how many penalties we had,” said quarterback Tony Romo. “But I don’t know if there’s a team that overcame some of the things that we had to overcome in one single game.”
Haley was criticized for not trying to win in the second half of a blowout loss to Philadelphia on Sept. 27. But no one was questioning the heart of the coach or the motivation of the players in what turned out to be their eighth straight loss at home.
“Some things that we’ve been struggling with, it seemed like we were able to get them done,” McGraw said.
Haley said Albert had his ankle taped and was sore Monday and his status for this week was not known.