The restorative qualities of a victory have no bounds. Last week the Chiefs were winless, at the bottom of their division and their season given up for dead.
This Sunday, after an overtime victory in New Orleans, the Chiefs are playing the Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium for first place in the AFC West.
“That’s the NFL,” defensive back Travis Daniels said. “You just never know what’s going to happen. The one thing we definitely wanted to be able to do is take care of our business and not have to worry about what goes on with another team winning or losing.
“We want to be a team that controls our own destiny. By having San Diego come in this week, if we can take care of business, that will put us on the right track for that.”
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The Chiefs’ situation is all the more remarkable in that they haven’t had a lead during a game. They fell behind the Saints early, catching up only on Ryan Succop’s 43-yard field goal with three seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Eventually, they won in overtime after another Succop field goal.
The Chiefs can thank their placement in perhaps the NFL’s weakest division for their situation. The AFC West is the only division without an undefeated team or at least two teams with winning records.
The Chargers, after losing 27-3 at home to the Falcons on Sunday, are 2-1. The Broncos and Raiders are, like the Chiefs, 1-2. Those teams play Sunday in Denver.
With a victory Sunday, the Chiefs would be 2-2 and tied for first place with San Diego and the winner of the Denver-Oakland game.
It’s seemingly an extraordinary set of circumstances for the Chiefs, but actually it’s not unlike their situation from last year. They lost their first three games before winning their next four.
Eventually, they were prevented from winning the AFC West title and making the playoffs because of a blocked field goal attempt in a December loss to the Raiders.
“After everything that happened, we were still playing for first place last year,” coach Romeo Crennel said. “We were one game away from winning the division, one blocked kick away from winning the division.
“I said all along it’s early, that this is a marathon and it’s not over yet. The fact that we won a game is helpful but we still need to win another game, and we still need to play well, we still need to play better. That’s going to be the focus going forward.”
If the Chiefs do wind up becoming a factor in the AFC West race, they will look back at the game in New Orleans as the starting point. The Chiefs trailed 24-6 in the third quarter but scored the game’s final 21 points.
“The thing the victory does for the team is give the team some confidence in their ability to win a game,” Crennel said. “Everybody is not telling them how bad they are any more and how they can’t win.
“Some people may be talking about, ‘Hey you did a good job and your running game looked good, your defense got better.’ So, they might hear some of that as opposed to all the negative stuff they’ve been hearing. Some of that helps them mentally.”