This story line could have been much better.
Kyle Orton returns to the stadium he once called home in an attempt to win the AFC West for the Kansas City Chiefs while dashing the hopes of the Denver team and fans that ran him out of town. The young and unorthodox Tim Tebow that replaced him, getting the bitter taste of defeat at the vengeful hands of his former mentor. A one-game, winner-takes-all fight for a playoff berth. A Hollywood ending to a roller coaster season for both franchises ....
Instead, the Broncos are the only team in this final game that is fighting for the playoffs. And while the motivation for revenge against a division opponent is real, playing spoiler isn't nearly as motivational as playing for the postseason. “If some guys want to look at it as spoiling (Denver’s) season and that’s how we’ll get a win, then it is what it is,” cornerback Javier Arenas said. “I see it as another opportunity to get better, play
better, correct mistakes and end the season on a good note.”
“I don’t think it’s the spoiler factor as much as it is just us needing to get a win,” veteran running back Thomas Jones said. “This team won’t be the same next year with guys leaving, so this is our last opportunity for us to play together as the 2011 Chiefs. For us to go out with a win would be good for us.”
But just because this is a meaningless game on paper for the Chiefs doesn't mean it's worthless. The team and its fans have already started to concentrate on the 2012 season, and Sunday is the beginning of the new year. Just like facing the Broncos in the last game of the 2009 season gave fans hope for 2010, this game can do just that. It could solidify Romeo Crennel as Head Coach; it could bring about a new starting quarterback for next season; it could serve as an unexpected showcase of talent out of a young player (Jamaal Charles in 2009); it can show the intangibles:
“I’m looking for great effort, I’m looking for smart players, I’m looking for physical play, I’m looking for guys who want to win," said Romeo Crennel in his weekly press conference. "Because that’s why we play the game and so, I think our guys are prideful guys, they’ve played hard all year and we just have to play better. I talked to them about getting better this week and not saying that this is the last game of the year and that it doesn’t matter because it does matter and if we get better and we play to our capabilities we can win the game.”
While the 2011 season is over for the Chiefs, 2012 could be a good year for Kansas City. And it all starts tomorrow in Denver. Happy New Year!
Kyle Orton: 44/68 (64.7%), 599 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs [With Chiefs]
Tim Tebow: 120/249 (48.2%), 1,669 yards, 12 TDs, 5 INTs
Jackie Battle: OUT
Dexter McCluster: 102 carries, 455 yards (4.5 ypc), 0 TD, 1 FUM
Willis McGahee: 221 carries, 1,054 yards (4.8 ypc), 4 TDs, 3 FUMs
Dwayne Bowe: 75 catches, 1,066 yards, 5 TDs
Eric Decker: 43 catches, 607 yards, 8 TDs
Chiefs Defense: 9th against Pass (211.4 ypg); 23rd against Run (126.4 ypg)
Broncos Defense: 20th against Pass (235.3 ypg); 25th against Run (127.7 ypg)