The start couldn’t have been better for the Kansas City Chiefs.
In fact, it was almost perfect.
The rest of the game?
Not so good.
The Browns scored 30 unanswered points on the way to a 30-7 victory on Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles ran 80 yards untouched off right guard for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, just 12 seconds into the game. It was just how former Browns offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, now in that same role with the Chiefs, drew it up on the chalkboard.
Allowing just one first down to the Browns on the ensuing possession before forcing them to punt, the Chiefs got the ball back and started rolling down the field again – albeit much more slowly this time. Keyed by a 47-yard pass from former Browns quarterback Brady Quinn to wide receiver Dwayne Boe, they needed only seven plays to go 75 yards for a first down at the Cleveland 4.
Coming off a 27-21 win over the Carolina Panthers the week before to end an eight-game losing streak, the Chiefs (2-11) appeared ready to gain a double-digit lead before the Browns – or the crowd – had even gotten settled. So, after a tragic week in which they attended a funeral for teammate Jovan Belcher, they were battling through things courageously and were looking to put a good ending to a struggling season for the second year in a row.
But it all went downhill from there for the Chiefs.
A one-yard run by former Browns running back Peyton Hills on first down, followed by two incomplete passes by Quinn and a false start penalty, pushed the Chiefs back to the 8 and forced them to try a field goal. But even on a good day for early December – the game time temperature was 44 degrees and the wind was just 5 mph – the east end of Cleveland Browns Stadium may be the toughest place in the NFL to kick, and there was proof of that again when Ryan Succop’s 27-yard attempt hit the left upright and was no good.
The Browns got a 23-yard
“That sequence of events – us missing the field goal, them getting the field goal, and then the punt return – changed the momentum of the game completely,” Chiefs defensive lineman Shaun Smith, a former Brown, said. “Then in the second half, we came out flat. It makes it difficult to win a game when you do that.”
But Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel, who formerly held the same position with the Browns, disagreed about when the key moment in the game occurred.
“That missed field goal and the punt return didn’t make for the turning point,” he said. “It was still a game at halftime. It was just 10-7. The second half was the turning point because we couldn’t produce.”
Whatever the turning point was, the fact of the matter is that the Chiefs really struggled offensively after that first start. Using Charles’ 80-yard TD run and the 47-yard pass, they had 183 total yards in 16 plays, an average of 11.4 yards per play, in the first quarter, but managed just 127 yards in 36 plays (3.5) in the last three quarters combined.
Quinn knew the reason for that.
“It was some penalties here and there and some minus runs,” he said after completing 10-of-21 passes for 159 yards and no touchdowns and one interception for a 53.3 quarterback rating. "We started putting ourselves in third-and-long situations, and your percentage of converting those gets tough. But the Browns' defense also did a great job. Both corners were able to lock guys up, and inside, the entire front four got a push in the pocket, so we have to take our hats off to them.”
Quinn was sacked five times for 29 yards in losses.
Still, it was good for Quinn, a first-round pick of the Browns in the 2007 NFL Draft and a product of Dublin Coffman High School in suburban Columbus, to return home.
“Yeah, of course it was special (to come back),” he said. “It brought back a ton of memories. There are a lot of great people here. It was a dream to be drafted by the team you grew up rooting for. When I was traded (to Denver following the 2009 season), it kind of blindsided me, but it’s a business and that’s how things happen in life.”