Kansas City, Mo. – It would be wrong to describe the postgame locker room of the Kansas City Chiefs as a place of celebration on Sunday after their 22-17 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
Rather, it was a room filled with guys wearing red and wondering what took so long.
“It feels so good,” cornerback Brandon Flowers said. “I just don’t know why we haven’t enjoyed this before. Hopefully, we remember it all and take it through the coming weeks.”
Behind good performances from offense, defense and special teams, the Chiefs won their first game of the season, ending a five-game losing streak that stretched back to the final game of the 2010 season.
It was not a good afternoon for the Vikings, who are now 0-4 on the season and falling further and further behind the upstart and still undefeated Detroit Lions in the NFC North.
“There aren’t finger-pointers on this team,” Vikings quarterback Donovan McNabb said. “We don’t have those kind of guys. All we can do is what we’ve been doing, and that’s go back to work next week, work hard and stick together.”
The key for the Chiefs was staying away from the things that had destroyed their ability to win the first three games of the season: turnovers, inopportune penalties and poor field position. They protected the ball, they had six penalties but none were the type that killed momentum and their special teams answered the call and provided good starting points for the offense.
“I thought all week that it was critical that we built on last week,” Chiefs coach Todd Haley said, referencing last Sunday’s three-point loss to San Diego. “We had to get better in some minor areas of the game. We were able to do some of that a little bit better and it makes a difference.”
Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel threw for 260 yards and a 52-yard TD play with wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, who ended up catching five passes for 107 yards. For the second game after losing RB Jamaal Charles, the running game stalled and managed just 3.7 yards per carry.
The Vikings just never got their offense into any type of rhythm. RB Adrian Peterson had 80 yards, but those came on 23 carries and he was unable to break loose against the Chiefs defense. McNabb threw for 202 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but was sacked twice and threw an interception in the scoring zone that proved to be at least a six-point swing on the scoreboard.
Only wide receiver Percy Harvin was able to make anything happen against the Chiefs defense, as he had 67 rushing yards on four end-around runs and another 52 yards on five catches.
“They did a good job of stopping the run,” said McNabb. “They brought seven and eight in the box sometimes. That’s why we went with (Harvin) on those runs, trying to take advantage of them bunching up.”
Something happened in the first quarter for the Chiefs – they had a lead, their first of the season. After holding the Vikings to three
plays and punt on the first possession, Javier Arenas got a pretty 33-yard return and set up the K.C. offense with great field position at the Minnesota 43-yard line. They had 1st-and-10 at the Vikings 11-yard line, but a penalty and then a two-yard loss pushed the back and Succop kicked the first of his field goals, this one from 40 yards away and the Chiefs were on top for the first time this season, 3-0.
That margin did not last long. McNabb led his offense right down the field on a nine-play, 80-yard drive with the touchdown coming on a pretty 34-yard pass down the left sideline from McNabb to wide receiver Devin Aromashodu.Ryan Longwell’s extra point put Minnesota up 7-3.
In the second quarter, the only points came off the foot of Succop, who hit field goals of 24 and then a 51-yarder at the end of the half that gave the Chiefs a 9-7 lead. Minnesota only visit to scoring territory in the quarter ended when McNabb’s pass for RB Toby Gerhart was tipped and picked off by CB Brandon Carr.
The third quarter proved to be a defensive struggle between these teams and the only points that went on the scoreboard came in bunches of three. Succop hit from 22 and 54 yards, while Longwell was good from 33 yards and as the turned the field at the end of the third quarter, the Chiefs led 15-10.
Kansas City added a touchdown early in the fourth quarter on a 52-yard pass and run play from Cassel to wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. But the Vikings came right back and put together a 13-play, 70 yard drive including a one-yard pass to wide receiver Michael Jenkins from for the score. After the PAT kick, the Chiefs lead was back to five points, 22-17.
Minnesota had one last opportunity with the ball, but turned it over on downs and the game was over.
GAME NOTES: With five field goals, Ryan Succop tied a Chiefs record for field goals in a game. He joins Hall of Famer Jan Stenerud and Nick Lowery … Vikings TE Jim Kleinsasser played in his 100th consecutive game for theVikings … The Chiefs had their third starting strong safety in four games, as Donald Washington opened the game there. Eric Berry and Jon McGraw started the previous three games. Last season, Berry started all 16 games and never missed a play. He’s out for the year with a knee injury.