KANSAS CITY, Mo. —Romeo Crennel might look brilliant for installing Kyle Orton as the Chiefs quarterback last week, but the truth can now be told. Crennel was more than a little nervous that Orton's Kansas City starting debut might not go as well as hoped.
"To be totally honest, yes,'' said Crennel, the Chiefs' interim coach. "He had a finger (injury), hadn't practiced a whole lot. He was new to the team, new to the system. The thing I knew about him is that he's a pro quarterback and played in games in the NFL before and has a good arm.
"But we didn't know how it was going to play out on game day. You just don't know going in sometimes. It played out very well.''
Orton threw for 299 yards and didn't commit a turnover in the Chiefs' 19-14 win over previously undefeated Green Bay to help keep the Chiefs' playoff hopes alive.
The biggest reason Crennel was anxious about Orton's debut had less to do with Orton and more about the quarterback the Chiefs will face Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium. Oakland's Carson Palmer made his Raiders debut two months ago against the Chiefs and he looked every bit the new guy in town, throwing three interceptions in Kansas City's 28-0 victory.
Orton joined the Chiefs right after Thanksgiving, so he had a little more practice time with his team than Palmer did when he made his debut. He also hadn't been sitting out of football, as Palmer had before he was traded from Cincinnati to Oakland.
But Orton was dealing with a dislocated finger on his passing hand. Still, he found a way to make his debut a success.
"For a first game, it was great,'' Orton said. "We completed a lot of passes but there were two or three of them that the more we're together, we'll hit those and we'll come out of the game feeling really good. There's always going to be a throw here and there you're not happy with.
"I'm excited about the way we played and that we won the game. Hopefully, that's a building block for us.''
While Orton had time to at least get comfortable with his new Kansas City teammates and the playbook before he started a game, the Raiders rushed Palmer into their lineup. That was obvious to the Chiefs after he entered the game in the second half.
"As the game went along, you could tell he wasn't on with his receivers and there were some nuances about the offense that were different and he wasn't used to them,'' Crennel said. "As I look at him now, it looks like he's used to them. He knows the receivers, he knows the runners, he knows the system.''
Oakland coach Hue Jackson didn't plan to play Palmer that day. But starting quarterback Kyle Boller threw three interceptions in the first half and Jackson felt he had no choice but to play Palmer.
"I was very surprised,'' said Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers, who had two interceptions that day. He returned one, off Palmer, for a touchdown.
"I know how hard it is to play quarterback in this league. For him to just go in so quick, not knowing all the plays and the speed of the receivers, you can't get that down in one or two days. It's going to take at least a week.
"They look more polished (now). Carson Palmer had time to get his timing routes down with the receivers. You could see they're really starting to jell as an offense and you can tell the chemistry is starting to come along, rather than when Carson Palmer played the first time. He got in (and) it was like he was just trying to play backyard football.''
Palmer had played better since. He had his best game of the season in last week's loss to Detroit.
But he hasn't saved Oakland's season, as the Raiders hoped when they traded for him. They were 4-2 when starting quarterback Jason Campbell broke his collarbone and traded for Palmer.
The Raiders are 3-5 since.
"He's doing much better than (when the Raiders played against the Chiefs), that's for sure,'' Jackson said. "He's still growing and still getting better.
"He's the starter. He shares a lot of that responsibility for (Oakland's 3-5 record). The job of a quarterback is to win. It hasn't come out for him as well as he liked. He's getting better but we've still got to find a way to win consistently with him playing for us.''