After starting off 5-2 and looking like maybe the league's most improved team, the Chiefs appeared ready to seize the AFC West. But two games later, Kansas City is in dangerous territory.
For the second week in a row, the Chiefs dropped a divisional road game, this one at Denver. But unlike the Oakland game, in which K.C. blew a lead and lost in overtime, this one was a complete shellacking. The Broncos jumped out to a 35-0 first-half lead and went on to win 49-29. It was the type of loss the Chiefs had become accustomed to in the past but had avoided this season.
To make matters worse, head coach Todd Haley made a scene after the game, refusing to shake hands with Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels and instead pointing and shouting at him briefly before storming off. Although Haley wouldn't discuss his reasoning for the gesture Sunday, he admitted it was a mistake and apologized during his Monday press conference.
''I do believe in doing what's right and that was not right,'' said Haley, according to the Kansas City Star. ''I probably let the emotions of the situation get me too much. I apologize to the fans and to Denver and to Josh.
''It's necessary to let everybody know that I would do that over again at the end and that it wasn't the right thing to do.''
With the defeat, the Chiefs are now tied with the Raiders for first place in the division at 5-4 and lead the Chargers by just one game.
The PFW Spin
With their performance the past two weeks, the Chiefs are showing that as well as they played during the first couple months, they still can't be taken seriously as one of the big dogs in the AFC. Anyone who gets pasted by a below-average Denver team needs to take a long, hard look at what they are doing and make some changes.
For K.C., those adjustments need to come on both sides of the ball. While the schemes of coordinators Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel were able to sneak up on people early on, opponents are now figuring out the Chiefs' weaknesses. The Broncos stacked the box and held a potent running game to just 51 yards on 22 carries (2.3 ypc), forcing Matt Cassel to beat them through the air. Although Cassel and WR Dwayne Bowe both had career days, they posted most of their numbers after the Chiefs were getting blown out.
On the other side, Kansas City's banged-up secondary looks to have major holes, and Kyle Orton consistently picked the unit apart on Sunday. The Chiefs need to find a way to better pressure QBs and prevent big plays downfield, or else they can expect to be thrown on the rest of the season.
In addition to correcting these problems, Haley also needs to collect himself on the field, as his postgame actions toward McDaniels made him look foolish and immature. He can't just be stoic when the Chiefs are playing well; he must have the same attitude in times of adversity. That will help prevent his players from getting rattled, which they clearly were at Denver.
The Chiefs still have a chance in this division, but their turnaround must begin right now.