Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs used time off to heal up

KANSAS CITY, Mo. —The bodies were just a bit more tired than usual this week at the Chiefs' training facility, the cold tubs used to soothe those aches a bit more busy.

Those are telltale signs of last week's opponent.

"You have other games where sometimes you feel the same afterward, but that's pretty consistent when you play the Raiders,'' safety Jon McGraw said. "You're always getting a little beat up in those games.

"It's always a physical game, and this was definitely one of those games against the Raiders. They're a big, strong team.''

Oakland last week wasn't much of a problem for the Chiefs, who registered their first shutout of the Raiders in a game played in California in a 28-0 victory. But if history is any guide, the Raiders will be a problem for the Chiefs in tonight's game against San Diego at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Chiefs traditionally struggle the week after playing against the Raiders, and that was a particular problem for them last season. After the initial meeting with the Raiders, the Chiefs were flat the following week, falling behind 35-0 in the first half to the Broncos. The Chiefs eventually lost by 20 points to Denver, which finished the season with just three other victories.

The next time, the Chiefs were flattened again. After losing the final regular-season game to Oakland, the Chiefs were beaten down in their playoff loss to Baltimore.

Once, the Chiefs suffered from mental hangovers in the post-Raiders week. Then-coach Marty Schottenheimer made the Raiders the big target each time around for the Chiefs.

It's more of a physical thing now that a game against Oakland is treated at Chiefs headquarters as just one of 16.

"They're monsters over there,'' Chiefs guard Ryan Lilja said. "You've seen them. It's a physical game with those guys. That's how they're built and how they play the game. It's always a fun game because you know you'll have to grind it out.''

Lilja this week was another one of the Chiefs who didn't need any reminders about last week's opponent even as he went about preparing for the Chargers. The 290-pound Lilja wrestled regularly last week against players like 335-pound John Henderson and 310-pound Richard Seymour.

"I was wondering to myself whether I felt this way because last week we were coming off the bye and I felt great then or because we played the Raiders last week,'' Lilja said. "But the cold tubs here have been full all week, so I guess that means it's because we played the Raiders last week.

"I just know that when you play Oakland, it's a tough game. You're always going to get everything they've got. I can tell you, speaking for myself, I'm feeling that game, still.''

Also members of the AFC West, the Chargers play against Oakland twice each season. Although they haven't had the same problems the week after as the Chiefs, quarterback Philip Rivers said he and his teammates know the feeling.

"Definitely when you play Oakland, there's no doubt about that, it's always a physical game,'' Rivers said. "It's a knockdown, dragout type football game.

"We were just in a super physical game. I expect this one to be physical as well.''

The Chargers had their own battle last week, losing 27-21 to the Jets in New York. They had a lengthy injury list this week while the Chiefs listed just one player, free safety Kendrick Lewis.

Lewis injured his ankle last week in Oakland.

But given their troubles the week after the Raiders, the extra day of preparation for tonight's game might benefit the Chiefs even more "Hopefully that will help us,'' McGraw said. "This is a good time for an extra day this week. Both teams have the extra day but it won't hurt us. That's for sure.''

In a scheduling quirk that will perhaps turn out favorable for the Chiefs, they will also get an extra day of rest and preparation after their rematch against the Raiders at Arrowhead. That game will be played on a Saturday, Christmas Eve.

Their next game is on a Sunday, Jan. 1, against the Broncos in Denver.

Chiefs coach Todd Haley was worried for now only about this post-Raiders week and indicated he was pleased the Chiefs had an extra day.

"That's one of the reasons why we didn't have a full-tempo practice (Wednesday),'' Haley said. "We just kept it at a walk-through to gain mental reps and at the same time give our guys a chance to recover from a physical game.

"I felt good about having an extra day this week coming off that game last week. We had to travel. It was pretty warm out there (in Oakland). It was obviously a physical, hard-fought game. We were able to utilize the extra day . . . in a very positive manner, so I'm happy with how things fell.''