It was a picture-perfect day for a home opener at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, and Chiefs fans had a lot to be excited about with the return of the “ACL Crew” of Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry and Tony Moeaki after all three missed the 2011 season. It became clear that the Chiefs needed those three players, but they also needed the four defensive starters that did not play as they lost 40-24 to the Atlanta Falcons.
The Chiefs played a great first half of football on Sunday, matching the high-powered offense of the Atlanta Falcons drive after drive, and neither team punted. Unfortunately, there are two halves in each football game, and the Chiefs put on an abysmal show in the second half. The close offensive showdown had a score of 20-17 at halftime but quickly became a beat-down after the struggling defense failed to contain Julio Jones and Tony Gonzales.
The fact that more Chiefs drives ended in a turnover rather than a scoring drive in the second half certainly didn’t stop the hemorrhaging. Quarterback Matt Cassel threw for 258 yards and a touchdown, plus he scored a rare rushing touchdown, but he also threw two interceptions and lost a fumble. Those turnovers gave the Falcons a short field to work with, and they certainly took advantage of the costly Chiefs mistakes.
Sunday’s game was also a highly-anticipated return of Tony Gonzales, the all-time leader for reception yards and touchdowns by a tight end. Gonzales spent 12 seasons as a Chief and was a long-time fan favorite. At age 36, it’s likely his last trip to Arrowhead. He celebrated his touchdown with his signature goal post dunk, which resulted in jeers from Chiefs fans.
This was the first Chiefs home opener with Romeo Crennel as head coach, but it continued a grim trend for the team leader; he also lost all four home openers as head coach for the Cleveland Browns from 2005-2008. Last year, the Chiefs were blown out in their first two games but showed signs of improvement and finished the year 7-9. Let’s hope that the Chiefs can regroup and regain their positive momentum at Buffalo next week.