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Bills embarrass Chiefs with 41-7 manhandling

Season-opening loss is worst of its kind

POSTED September 11, 2011 4:58 p.m.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — You can’t fumble the football away on the opening play of the NFL season.

You can’t let the opponent grab you by the throat and systematically run the ball down your throat.

You can’t leave your running game at home — not the defending AFC West Division champions, the league rushing champs, mind you.

But these 2011 Kansas City Chiefs looked like a shell of the 2010 Chiefs — at least they were Sunday afternoon after getting embarrassed by the Buffalo Bills 41-7 at Arrowhead Stadium. It was the worst season-opening loss in Chiefs history, and their most lopsided since a 45-0 setback to the Pittsburgh Steelers 35 years ago.

From Kansas City kick returner Dexter McCluster fumbling away the opening kickoff to Buffalo chewing up the game clock into bits with a potent running game, things started out lousy for the Chiefs and only got worse.

“We did the things that we do when we’re going to get beat,” Chiefs head coach Todd Haley said. “We turned the ball over, not stopping the run and not converting third downs.

“That being said, I’m taking 100 percent responsibility for our team not being ready to go. You can point the finger right at Todd Haley.”

The Chiefs were coming off a 10-6 campaign and their first home playoff berth in seven years. Yet their vanilla playbook didn’t allow them to stand a chance against a Buffalo team that was 4-12 last season with a coach that had an axe to grind.

The Chiefs, minus offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who left in the offseason to become the offensive coordinator at the University of Florida, bore more resemblance to a 4-12 team, like it was in 2009 before last year’s turnaround.

Chan Gailey must have been laughing somewhere, quite possibly in the visitors’ locker room. Gailey, beginning his second year as Buffalo’s head coach, was the former offensive coordinator for the Chiefs in 2008 under Herman Edwards.

Retained on Haley’s staff after Edwards was fired, Haley and Gailey clashed, with Gailey being fired 13 days before the 2009 season opener.

Just over two years later, Gailey found himself on the opposing sideline, beating a team that seems to have regressed after rushing for an NFL-leading 2,627 yards last season.

Asked if it felt good to beat the team that fired him, Gailey said, “You’re lying if you say it doesn’t.

“It does. It feels good.”

The Chiefs managed just 108 yards in 18 carries as they accumulated just 213 yards in total offense. Quarterback Matt Cassel passed for only 119 yards, completing 22 of 36 passes, with his longest completion being only 20 yards twice, and they were only 3 for 13 on third-down efficiency and never did show a spark.

Moreover, the Chiefs committed three turnovers — two fumbles and had one interception — and allowed the Bills 364 yards in total offense.

 “I just know that we weren’t ready,” Haley said. “The Buffalo Bills were better-prepared than the Kansas City Chiefs were today. We were not prepared.

“We need a better game plan offensively and a better game plan defensively and a better game plan on special teams.”

The absence of a run game was most apparent. Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, the NFL’s second-leading rusher last season with 1,467 yards, had 56 yards in 10 carries, and McCluster had four carries for 42 yards.

Little-used Thomas Jones, who totaled 896 rushing yards and six touchdowns in 2010, had only three yards in two carries.

All of this against a Bills team that ranked last in the NFL last season against the run.

Everybody knew where the ball was going,” Gailey said. “We had a great scheme against (Kansas City’s) run game, and we were able to get a lot of hacks at the ball.

“If one guy is making a tackle in the open field too much, you’re going to be in trouble. But we had several guys around the ball, it seemed like each time, and that’s what it takes to be a successful run defense.”

 

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