Fully recovering from an emergency appendectomy can take up to a month for many people, but Matt Cassel knew he didn't have that kind of time. If the Chiefs wanted to keep their dream of winning the AFC West alive, he needed to get back on the field in less than two weeks.
That's exactly what happened Sunday when Kansas City played a tough cross-state showdown with the Rams. Clearly not at 100 percent but knowing the Chiefs could not afford to lose, Cassel gutted it out at St. Louis to lead his team to a 27-13 victory.
Although far from spectacular, Cassel did enough to keep K.C. moving the ball, something backup Brodie Croyle could not do the week prior. Cassel completed 15-of-29 passes for 184 yards, one touchdown and one interception, but his presence also forced the Rams to respect the pass, allowing the Chiefs to rack up 210 rushing yards and win the time-of-possession battle.
"Any chance that I had to play this weekend, I was going to do it unless there was some event to where the doctors told me that something really, really bad was going to happen," Cassel said after the game.
"All that I went by was feel. I felt good throughout the course of the week, I continued to get better each and every day and I felt good out there (Sunday)."
The PFW Spin
Sunday's contest at St. Louis was not only the toughest one left on the Chiefs' schedule, but it was also their final game on the road. Without Cassel in the lineup, their chances of winning — and subsequently making the playoffs — would have decreased dramatically. But with their field general playing through pain that had his status in question all the way up until kickoff, they were able to handle the Rams and now look to be in the driver's seat in the division.
While Cassel's return was obviously a major part of the victory, head coach Todd Haley deserves credit for rallying his troops after a devastating blowout loss at San Diego that could have had a demoralizing carryover effect this week. He has preached mental toughness all year, and it was clear that the players got the message, putting the Chargers game out of their minds and focusing solely on beating St. Louis.
Now the Chiefs just have to take care of business at Arrowhead Stadium — where they are 6-0 this season —against the Titans and Raiders in order to wrap up a playoff berth. One misstep, though, and it's likely the Chargers will swoop in and steal another division title. If Kansas City is as tough as it showed Sunday, the players will not allow that to happen.