Kansas City, Mo. Nobody thought much of it when Le’Ron McClain sent the tweet bouncing across the Internet. The Kansas City Chiefs had lost three straight games, two in lopsided fashion, along with three of their best players to season-ending injuries.
It looked as if they’d have a hard time winning one game, much less five — much less five in a row. Yet the Chiefs’ fullback sensed something in the second half of their game against San Diego, when they nearly rallied for a victory. There was a newfound sense of confidence, like maybe the defending AFC West champions weren’t ready to go quietly into the night.
So he punched the message into his twitter account (LeRon_McClain44): “We will overcome this ... 5-3 at the end of (the second) quarter of the season.”
Doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore. In fact, one of more than 18,000 messages that McClain has posted on Twitter suddenly seems prophetic.
Already the first team in NFL history to go from 0-3 to tied atop a division after seven games, Kansas City can win its fifth straight when the winless Miami Dolphins visit Arrowhead Stadium today. It’ll be the first time the franchise has rattled off that long of a winning streak in eight years, and quite possibly the first time it’s ever made good on such a bold prognostication.
“I felt like we had something going against the Chargers that first game,” McClain said by way of an explanation. “Just something to build on. Guys took that and we’ve just been carrying it, every week, one week at a time, doing everything we can to get these victories.”
The first two were written off as coming against division doormats, Minnesota and Indianapolis. Even now they’ve combined to win just two games. The third one, despite being a 28-0 rout, came against an Oakland team that had just lost its starting quarterback for the season.
But the Chiefs finally made believers across the league last Sunday, when they stood toe-to-toe with the Chargers for four quarters. When Philip Rivers fumbled a snap that spoiled San Diego’s chance to kick a winning field goal in regulation, Kansas City made them pay in overtime. Ryan Succop’s 30-yard field goal gave the Chiefs’ their fourth straight win.
One more to go before McClain’s prediction comes true.
“We just need to focus on the next game,” he said. “Miami is looking for their first win of the season, they want to get it against the Chiefs, so we have to make sure we don’t let that happen.”
If anything, the Dolphins can take a bit of solace in the struggles that Kansas City went through early this season, when it was outscored 89-10 over the course of its first two games.
The Dolphins have at least been competitive in nearly every game they’ve played, and on several occasions should have come out on top. They lost to Cleveland 17-16 in Week 3, blew a 15-point lead in an overtime loss to Denver two weeks ago, and lost 20-17 last week to the New York Giants.
“It’s difficult to obviously lose games and be in the position that we’re in,” veteran Dolphins linebacker Jason Taylor said. “You do look for encouraging things, encouraging factors that have been happening over the last month-and-a-half, two months. There are enough positive things going to know that it’s right there for us, but it’s frustrating to lose games the way we’ve been losing them.”
Taylor acknowledged part of the problem is “making some of the same mistakes game-in and game-out,” a rare admission from anybody in professional sports.
It hasn’t helped that Miami has been unsettled at quarterback since Chad Henne needed season-ending shoulder surgery, and that center Mike Pouncey had to leave last week’s loss with a neck injury.
“The past two weeks, we’ve played some pretty good football most of the game,” quarterback Matt Moore said. “I don’t know if there’s any one thing that I can say, ‘We need to do this and this is going to put us over the top.’ We need to keep that attacking attitude, finish the ball game and be done with that to stop questioning why we’re not finishing.”
With their aerial game in flux, Reggie Bush could become the most valuable member of the Dolphins offense, especially against a Chiefs defense that has played well lately.
The former No. 2 overall pick ran for 103 yards last week against the Giants, just his second career 100-yard rushing game, after gaining a combined 232 yards in his first six games in Miami.
“He definitely has the ability to fire guys up just with his play, and guys kind of latch onto that and go with it,” Moore said. “The good thing about Reggie is he’ll make a big play or two, but when it’s not there it’s not kind of doom and gloom. He’s the same guy that way, you know what I mean? But he’s definitely a guy that can create a fire and guys feed off that.”
The Dolphins could use anything to fire them up soon.
They’re already more than halfway toward matching their 0-13 start from the 2007 season.
“We put ourselves in this position,” Miami coach Tony Sparano said. “We’ve had some opportunities here the last couple of weeks to win some close games. I don’t think anything is out of the realm of possibilities. We’ve been in situations here where we rattled off five or six wins in a row.
“My team’s been really focused,” Sparano said. “They’ve done a really good job that way.”