Kansas City, Mo. An eerie silence descended over Arrowhead Stadium midway through the second half Sunday, when the Kansas City Chiefs were well on their way to their seventh straight defeat.
It was almost like a funeral, right down to the fans wearing black.
Cincinnati certainly played its part in casting the pall over the venue, stuffing the Chiefs’ inept offense and shredding their defense in a 28-6 victory that got the Bengals back into playoff contention while prolonging the misery in Kansas City at least one more week.
“We aren’t babies. We know that when we aren’t winning, fans are going to get mad,” Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers said. “We’ve got to find a way to get this thing turned around.”
They’ve been trying in vain for weeks.
Andy Dalton threw for 230 yards and accounted for three touchdowns, A.J. Green caught six passes for 91 yards and a score, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis had 101 yards and a touchdown as the Bengals (5-5) won their second straight following their own four-game losing streak.
Mohamed Sanu also had a touchdown catch as the Bengals (5-5), suddenly back in the postseason hunt, prepare to play four straight against teams that began the day with losing records.
None of them is as bad as the Chiefs, though.
Jamaal Charles had 87 yards rushing for Kansas City (1-9), but that was the only highlight for a team whose lone victory this year required a franchise-record 18-point comeback.
The Chiefs’ once-raucous home was only about half-full most of the game, and a good portion of those who showed up were dressed in black — a grass roots effort organized by angry fans who were “mourning” another lost season in an attempt to pressure team ownership to make changes.
Once again, an airplane towed a banner calling for general manager Scott Pioli to be fired.
“Everyone in this building is frustrated. We don’t want to go out and perform like that,” said Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel, who was benched at halftime in favor of Brady Quinn.
“We don’t want to lose like that. We want to go out and compete and win games.”
The Chiefs’ performance on the field wasn’t much different than the rest of the year, though, and now the injuries are piling up. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe hurt his neck and right tackle Branden Albert hurt his back, and coach Romeo Crennel said he’s not sure of the status of either one.
As if the Bengals weren’t just fine when the Chiefs had their full complement of players.
“We knew this was going to be a grind,” Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis said, though it seemed more like a walk in the park to the scattered groups of fans watching from the stands.
“We wanted to jump on them early, and being aggressive was what we needed to do,” Dalton said.
The Chiefs actually struck first for the second straight week, turning several nice runs by Charles into a 34-yard field goal by Ryan Succop, before reality set in once again.
The Bengals marched 78 yards the other direction, twice converting on fourth down — once when Cedric Peerman ran 32 yards on a fake punt, and once when Dalton scrambled for 11 yards on fourth-and-7. Dalton capped the drive with a 5-yard fade pass to Green, who managed to stab the ball with one hand and then slap both feet into the end zone before falling out of bounds.
“They even tried to double him on that one,” Dalton said.
Peyton Hillis fumbled on the Chiefs’ ensuing possession, their league-leading 31st turnover.
Cincinnati made it 14-3 in the second quarter when Dalton fooled the entire defense on a perfectly executed naked bootleg, and a 78-yard drive in which the Bengals faced third down once was capped by Green-Ellis’ touchdown plunge for a 21-3 lead.
Cassel deftly led the Chiefs to a field goal in the closing seconds of the half, but Crennel elected to put Quinn into the game at quarterback to start the third quarter.
Cassel sustained a concussion earlier this season, and then lost his job to Quinn, who was active for the first time since sustaining his own concussion Oct. 28 against Oakland.
Quinn didn’t fare much better leading the Kansas City offense, and the Bengals tacked on Sanu’s touchdown catch in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
“We couldn’t move the ball offensively, so I changed the quarterback and tried to generate some offense that way, but it really wasn’t enough,” Crennel said. “That’s why the score is the way it is. I’m not feeling very good at this point.”
Notes: Bengals CB Terence Newman left with a concussion. ... The Bengals were 3 for 3 on fourth down. ... DT Geno Atkins forced two fumbles, had a sack and led Cincinnati with six tackles. ... Cassel and Quinn combined to go 17 of 30 for 188 yards.