KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Playing on the Monday Night Football stage brought out the best and worst of the Chiefs. They played perhaps their best game of the season Monday night in Pittsburgh, taking a lead for the first time before losing 16-13 in overtime to the Steelers.
They also felt compelled to dance and celebrate on national television, something that cost them one 15-yard penalty at a crucial point in the game and could have cost them more.
Coach Romeo Crennel said he wasn’t sure whether playing on national TV caused the Chiefs to turn into entertainers as well as football players.
“I have no idea,” Crennel said. “It was a surprise to me to see some of those celebrations, per se. The rules are explicit about no celebrating, particularly group celebrations. You cannot have those. Our guys, they know the rules and they should not have done it. I will talk to my players about that and I don’t expect it to happen again.”
The 1-8 Chiefs have played two straight nationally televised, prime-time games but will play in relative anonymity for the rest of the season. They play against Cincinnati at noon on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium in the first of three straight home games.
Several players, including captains Derrick Johnson and Eric Berry, were guilty of a group celebration against NFL rules in the third quarter. They were celebrating an apparent fumble on a third down by Pittsburgh quarterback Byron Leftwich that Justin Houston returned for a touchdown that would have put the Chiefs ahead 17-10.
The play was ruled an incomplete pass instead after a video review, but the Chiefs penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct stood and the Steelers kept the ball with a fresh set of downs and the extra 15 yards.
Dwayne Bowe could have been penalized for taunting on his apparent touchdown catch, also in the third quarter, that was nullified by a holding infraction by Branden Albert. Bowe wasn’t penalized, but that penalty would also have stood even though his touchdown was called back.
“We had some penalties that were really uncharacteristic of the guys on this team,” Crennel said. “They were celebrating and dancing and those kinds of things. With the record we have, we really can’t afford to be dancing or anything like that. Our focus should be on trying to play good football and trying to do everything to help the team win and not do things that cost the team field position and give a good opponent some momentum and those kinds of things.
“I do have a young team and I keep mentioning that all the time. Young guys do make young mistakes. We’re going to educate those guys about their actions … and then we’re going to eliminate it.”
Crennel last week said he would bench players who commit turnovers during games. Asked if he would do the same for players who dance and celebrate, he said, “I’m going to emphasize to those guys that those kinds of penalties are hurtful to the team and that we don’t need them, and then we will see whether we sit them or not.”
Crennel said he hadn’t decided whether Brady Quinn or Matt Cassel would quarterback the Chiefs against Cincinnati. Quinn said after Monday night’s game that he had been cleared to play after his recent concussion, but Crennel indicated he hadn’t heard that and wasn’t ready to make his decision.
“Brady said he is ready to go, and I’m sure he’s excited about the possibility but at this point he’s not officially cleared so I can’t make a determination until I can find out exactly what the prognosis is for him,” Crennel said. “That’s what I’ll do. I’ll find out and we’ll go from there.”
Crennel said wide receiver Jon Baldwin was still being evaluated for what he called a head and neck injury he suffered against the Steelers. Three other players could be impacted by injuries against the Bengals: defensive lineman Dontari Poe (knee), guard Jon Asamoah (hand) and tight end Jake O’Connell (high ankle sprain).