Kansas City, Mo. It's Week 12 and the Kansas City Chiefs already have nothing to lose.
They've dropped eight straight games to be officially eliminated from playoff contention. They lead the NFL in turnovers, haven't scored a touchdown in more than 11 quarters and still have just one lonely win during one of the worst seasons in franchise history.
Time to throw caution to the wind, right?
Time to go for broke, right?
Time to do something — anything, really — to ignite a floundering franchise, right?
Coach Romeo Crennel said he stands by his decision to keep kicking field goals rather than attempt several short fourth-downs in a 17-9 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday, even though his own players acknowledged it was going to take more than 3s to win.
In short, he approached the game like the Chiefs were 10-1, rather than 1-10.
"You have to do what you think is right at the time," Crennel said Monday, "and I thought going against this particular team that points on the board was going to be important. The more points the better, but we definitely needed points on the board."
The first instance came on the opening drive, when the Chiefs actually showed some moxie by having Peyton Hillis throw a halfback pass on third-and-3 from the Denver 16. When it fell woefully incomplete, though, Crennel sent in Ryan Succop to kick a field goal.
The second came on the Chiefs' next drive, when they marched to the Denver 4. This time, Succop was sent on rather than going for it on fourth-and-2, and the result was a 6-0 lead that was wiped out when the Broncos put together a touchdown drive just before halftime.
That shouldn't have been a surprise: Denver had scored at least 30 points in five straight games, making it unlikely that Kansas City could win simply by throwing jabs.
They needed to throw a haymaker, and they never even tried.
"You don't put points on the board, that's not going to be enough," Crennel said, bristling over constant questioning about his conservative decisions. "And you don't put enough points on the board, that's not going to be enough, either."
The truth is the Chiefs haven't put up enough in a while.
They've gone more than 173 minutes without scoring a touchdown, their last one coming in the first quarter Nov. 12 against Pittsburgh. They've scored just 31 points in the three games since Crennel fired himself as defensive coordinator and said he'd spend more time with the offense, and have not scored more than 20 points since their overtime win against New Orleans in Week 3.
Asked why the offense has had such trouble getting into the end zone, running back Jamaal Charles said, "I have no idea."
"We just go out there and play," he said. "We played against a good team with a good defense. It's not like we were playing against the last team in defense out there. They're pretty good."
Perhaps that's why Crennel remained conservative in the second half Sunday.
After holding Denver to a missed field goal on the opening possession, Kansas City marched into Broncos territory. But when Brady Quinn's pass to Dwayne Bowe on third-and-7 gained only six yards, Succop once again trotted onto the field to kick a field goal from the Denver 31.
"It comes down to consistency and us capitalizing on drives, and it starts here," Quinn said. "Whether it is certain throws or decisions here or there, I fully take credit for us making plays and getting touchdowns instead of field goals."
It's not as if Crennel hasn't been decisive this season.
He acknowledged that he couldn't handle both head coaching duties and be the defensive coordinator, so he put Gary Gibbs in charge of the defense. And he's shuffled between Quinn and Matt Cassel at quarterback, trying in vain to find some kind of spark.
It's just that nothing has worked, putting Crennel in position where he can start shoving all his chips into the pot on every offensive series. Against Carolina this weekend, perhaps.
If he chooses to do it.
"When I made the decisions that I made, I had good reason for making them," Crennel said, "and you don't look back. You make your decision and if they work, they think you're a genius. If they don't work, you go the other way. You're a dummy."