Come playoff time, nothing changes for Kansas City

By Clayton Wendler  |   Tuesday, January 09, 2007  |  Comments( 0 )

Kansas City Chiefs
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If you watched the Indianapolis Colts defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 23-8 over the weekend, you probably thought you were seeing a different Chiefs team than the last squad that lost in the playoffs.

After all, it was that 2003 team that couldn't stop anyone, allowing the Colts to frolic up and down the field at Arrowhead Stadium to the tune of 38 points, 434 yards and, most egregiously, no punts.

This time, the Chiefs made 'em punt - thrice. Heck, they intercepted Peyton Manning three times and held the Colts to their lowest scoring output since early November.

So while you might be right in saying this Chiefs team had a decent defense, trust me - this was the same old garbage Chiefs fans had seen in the playoffs before.

It was almost as if Herman Edwards' team was treating viewers to a "best of" marathon, featuring every possible lowlight from years of Kansas City playoff futility.

Let's take a trip down memory lane and revisit the macabre horrors the Chiefs have experienced in the playoffs over the years - and see how they echoed inside the RCA Dome last Saturday.

Start with Jan. 7, 1995 - Kansas City hosted Indianapolis for a divisional playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs, owners of the NFL's top-ranked ground game, had run over everyone that season. They were expected to do the same to the Colts.

The Chiefs would total 129 yards rushing that day, but only one measly touchdown in a pathetic offensive performance. The blame fell at the feet of offensive coordinator Paul Hackett, whose curious game plan featured 33 passes from quarterback Steve Bono.

All the Chiefs really needed to do was continue to pound Marcus Allen. Hackett's plan led to three turnovers and ultimately cost the Chiefs the game.

Fast forward to Saturday. The Chiefs bring the NFL's No. 2-ranked rusher in Larry Johnson to the RCA Dome. Everyone expects them to run roughshod over the Colts. What happens?

Offensive coordinator Mike Solari features a game plan so predictable that even the 32nd-ranked Colts' run defense had little trouble stopping Johnson. The Chiefs run on the first two plays of the game. They run on eight of their first 12 offensive snaps. They go nowhere (21 total yards in the first seven possessions) and score just one measly touchdown in a pathetic offensive performance that also sees the quarterback commit three turnovers. Sound familiar?

Let's now revisit Jan. 11, 2003. Yes, the Chiefs defense was pitiful in the 38-31 loss to Indianapolis, but what was also pitiful was the play of Kansas City's wide receivers. Five dropped passes (two in the end zone) halt critical drives by KC's offense and force the Chiefs to settle for field goals.

Back to Saturday. As bad as the Chiefs were on offense throughout the game, maybe they would have had a fighting chance had their receivers caught the ball. Once again, five dropped passes killed offensive drives aplenty.

Wide receiver Dante Hall - one drop. Tight end Tony Gonzalez - two drops. Wide receiver Eddie Kennison - two drops. The ball is your friend, guys.

There's one more moment that reverberates in Kansas City playoff history. It's particularly painful to dredge up when you talk about games against the Colts, but it's become almost an epidemic over the years.

Go back once again to the 1995 playoff game against Indianapolis. As bad as KC's offense was that day, the team did give the Chiefs a chance to win the game.

One man flushed that chance down the toilet: placekicker Lin Elliot. One of the most hated men in Kansas City sports history, Elliot shanked field goals from 35, 39 and 42 yards out.

Two years later his replacement, Pete Stoyanovich, would miss a 44-yarder in a 14-10 playoff loss to the Denver Broncos.

Even the reliable Morten Andersen is no stranger to the phenomenon we will heretofore refer to as "Shanks 'R Us." In Kansas City's 2003 playoff loss he booted a 31-yard field goal attempt wide left. This from a man who had previously nailed 18 consecutive kicks under 40 yards.

Sure enough, even inside a dome, there was another Kansas City kicker shanking an easy field goal attempt on Saturday against the Colts. Lawrence Tynes, who has never missed a field goal under 30 yards in three years as an NFL placekicker (23 for 23), not even in a preseason game, nailed the left upright with impeccable accuracy on a 23-yard attempt. The Chiefs should honestly start going for it on fourth down in these playoff games.

So there you have it. The Chiefs have been to four playoff games in the last 12 seasons, and as if they were caught in some perpetual Groundhog Day universe, the same things keep happening.

As Joseph Conrad once wrote: "The Horror! The Horror!"
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