KANSAS CITY, Mo. —With rain coming down in sheets and the wind whipping around Arrowhead Stadium for much of the game, Monday night's conditions were hardly ideal for a struggling passing game to flourish.
Chiefs coach Todd Haley and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis decided to shift their focus elsewhere. After some early and unsuccessful attempts to throw down the field in the season opener against San Diego, the Chiefs largely gave up on their passing game.
The result was an anemic 62 passing yards, though the Chiefs survived to beat the Chargers 21-14 on the strength of some big plays from the running game, the return game and their defense.
Haley said Tuesday that the conservative game plan was not a sign he or Weis had lost confidence in quarterback Matt Cassel or the capability of the passing game. He warned not to expect a similar plan in Sunday's game against the 0-1 Browns unless similar weather conditions prevail in Cleveland.
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"I hope it's not,'' Haley said. "I was just real clear to everybody involved that we are not turning this ball over. I would rather punt than have something like that happen. Every time either quarterback dropped back to pass, you were taking a fairly significant risk, more than you would in normal conditions.
"The scenario we found ourselves in wasn't necessarily one we spent a ton of time pondering, being up a couple of scores midway through the game and then the weather situation, which was a real issue. I felt between the wind and the rain, it was as difficult conditions that I've been in in a couple of years now as far as rain goes in a regular-season game.
"One of the things I did not want to do was put us in a situation where we were giving anything to (San Diego), especially looking at how we were playing on defense. Most specifically, offensively I chose to play probably as conservative as you'll see me. I'm somebody who does like to take some educated gambles and be real aggressive.''
Only the Jets, with 60, had fewer passing yards than the Chiefs in the season's first week. Not surprisingly, New York managed just three field goals in a 10-9 loss to Baltimore.
The Chiefs were one of just three teams in the bottom 10 in passing yardage to win over the weekend. The two other winners, Houston and Tennessee, each rushed for more than 200 yards in their respective victories.
The Chiefs received a 56-yard touchdown run from Jamaal Charles but otherwise didn't have the consistent rushing production that the Texans or Titans did.
The message there is that the Chiefs will need much more from Cassel and the passing game if they are to beat the Browns.
The Chiefs hoped to get that against the Chargers, but like the preseason, it wasn't there. Cassel completed 10 of his 22 throws, and none of the completions went for more than 16 yards.
Having a functioning passing game would have helped the Chiefs bury the Chargers earlier rather than having to sweat out a San Diego drive in the final moments. The Chiefs had three possessions of three plays and a punt in the second half when they were trying to expand their lead while chewing up as much of the remaining clock as possible.
"We didn't turn the ball over,'' Haley said. "We protected it. We did some good things. We forced the clock to run, so there were some positive effects. We wanted to end the game with the ball in our hands, which we ultimately did, but probably not really where we wanted it to be.
"I would not want to be satisfied with that, and I know the guys aren't.''
Haley said the Chiefs at times adjusted their pass defense to the extreme conditions, taking away as many routes in the middle of the field as possible.
"We were doing some of the same things on defense, not being conservative but understanding what the difficulty was in throwing and where we wanted the ball to be thrown, which was outside the numbers,'' Haley said. "You weren't seeing a lot of balls being completed out there.''
But the Chargers and quarterback Philip Rivers didn't have the same issues with the conditions. Rivers threw for almost 300 yards and moved the Chargers downfield on their final drive, putting themselves in range for the tying touchdown, which they failed to get.