If you had asked most people what the Chiefs (0-3) needed to beat the Broncos (3-0) on Sunday, suggestions would have ranged from "a time machine to take them back to 2003" to "Larry Johnson to somehow learn to play quarterback." What you would not have heard is "Oh, they just need their 35 year old career backup quarterback to take the reins, manage the offense, and make key plays, along with their young defense turning in its best performances to date."
But that's exactly what the Chiefs got in their 33-19 win on Sunday, snapping a 12-game losing streak in the process and providing some much needed hope and relief for a struggling franchise, a highly questioned head coach and front-office staff, and a suffering fanbase.
Damon Huard didn't put up many yards (160) and he didn't have hardly any highlights aside from a floater to Tony Gonzalez in the fourth quarter that put the game out of reach for the Broncos, but he did have one very big number. Zero. As in, zero turnovers, good for a 100.3 rating.
In the rebuilding plan for Herm Edwards, this one pretty much set the mold for what he hopes to accomplish in Kansas City.
Ball-control offense featuring a devastating, consistent running attack (Larry Johnson piled up 198 yards and 2 TDs), only one turnover (on an LJ fumble), and a defense that, while giving up over 400 yards, made big plays, managed field position, and most importantly, created turnovers.
Kansas City's been waiting for its young defense to show signs of life and today it shot up like a cannon. Rookie cornerback Brandon Carr had an interception and a fumble recovery. Rookie Brandon Flowers had 7 tackles and a fumble recovery. The team made big stops when it needed them. Essentially, it did everything it hasn't done all season, nor for much of last season.
A primary reason for that was Kansas City's ability to control the clock, winning the time of possession behind an offense that while pedestrian, was also effective against Denver's sieve-like defense. Huard wasn't slinging it downfield and every time he took the snap, Chiefs fans still held their breath waiting for a duck to be intercepted or for Denver's linebackers to crush him like tinfoil, but today their fears were soothed by safe throws and a determination to simply not screw up.
And for one game at least, that was enough. Enough to snap the 12-game losing streak, enough to prevent the dubious notation of a winless season, and enough to provide some hope for the players, the staff and the fans.