Chiefs draw up critical win over Vikings, 22-17By DAVE SKRETTA, AP Sports Writer Monday, Oct 3, 2011
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—On a playground, Dwayne Bowe’s(notes) instructions might have sounded something like this: Take off like you’re heading deep, do a little hitch at the parked car, and then sprint to the oak tree that marks the end zone.
After seeing the defense sneaking toward the line of scrimmage, Haley designed a play for his Pro Bowl wide receiver on the fly. Bowe headed straight down the sideline, shook cornerback Cedric Griffin(notes) and caught Matt Cassel’s(notes) pass in stride for a 52-yard touchdown reception.
Just like Haley dreamed it up.
Kansas City held on down the stretch for a 22-17 victory, its first of the season, keeping Minnesota without a win through four games for the first time since 2002.
“It was a great adjustment by our coaching staff,” Cassel said. “They saw that they were jumping some of those routes, intermediate routes, so we thought we had an opportunity. We didn’t have it in the game plan. We put it in on the sideline.
“So I pumped him, and sure enough it opened up just like they thought it would.”
Bowe said that Haley had confidence he would make the play.
“It was a simple play, a simple hitch-and-go route,” he said. “Coach told me, ‘If I call this, will you score?’ And I told him, ‘Coach, all you have to do is put it in my hands and I’ll do my best to come down with the touchdown.’ He believed in me. Matt made a perfect throw; the offensive line held up and voila — there you have it.”
The Vikings answered with a 13-play drive that Donovan McNabb(notes) capped with a short pass to Michael Jenkins(notes) for Minnesota’s first second-half TD of the season. But after getting the ball back, McNabb eventually threw four straight incompletions to effectively end the game.
“We had a little momentum going. Our defense did a good job getting a three-and-out and getting us the ball back,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. “But they made some good plays with deflections and good coverage on fourth down.”
The defending AFC West champions lost to Buffalo 41-7 in their opener and were trounced 48-3 at Detroit, before nearly rallying in a 20-17 loss to San Diego. The miserable start had some fans calling for Haley and general manager Scott Pioli to be fired.
The heat is off them for a week.
It’s still squarely on Frazier.
Minnesota squandered big first-half leads in each its of its first three games, but this time dug a 9-7 hole. After taking the lead on Ryan Longwell’s(notes) field goal in the third quarter, the Vikings wilted down the stretch.
McNabb finished 18 of 30 for 202 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, while Adrian Peterson carried 23 times for 80 yards in another underwhelming performance.
“It’s frustrating,” McNabb said. “We’ve got to go back and do the same thing we’ve been doing the last couple of weeks and try to find a solution.”
Kansas City’s defense set the tone early, holding the Vikings to three-and-out on their first possession, and Succop’s 40-yard field goal provided the Chiefs with their first lead all season.
The Vikings answered quickly with a nine-play, 80-yard drive.
Peterson carried the load, forcing the Chiefs to stack the line of scrimmage, and McNabb made them pay when he found Devin Aromashodu(notes) streaking down the sideline. He made a diving catch in the end zone, and the touchdown was upheld after video review.
It was McNabb’s 233rd TD pass, breaking a tie with Steve Young for 21st all-time.
Minnesota looked as if it would build on the 7-3 lead, marching deep into Chiefs territory early in the second quarter. But after a sack by Tamba Hali(notes) set up third-and-long, McNabb’s pass was tipped by running back Toby Gerhart(notes) and intercepted by Brandon Carr(notes).
The Chiefs struck with a 42-yard completion to Steve Breaston(notes), but the drive fizzled when Cassel didn’t see Breaston open in the end zone on second down. Cassel inexplicably chucked the ball into the ground on third down, and Succop’s 24-yard field goal made it 7-6.
Cassel got an earful from Haley when he came over to the sideline, the coach clearly unhappy with the execution, but they were on the same page by the fourth quarter.
“I was proud of the way our guys responded,” Cassel said. “The beginning of the season hasn’t gone the way we anticipated it going, but today was a step in the right direction.”
Notes: Vikings DE Jared Allen(notes) had a pair of sacks against his former team. … Hali finished with two sacks. … Next on the career TD passing list for McNabb are George Blanda (236), Jim Kelly (237) and Len Dawson (239). … Nick Lowery and Lawrence Tynes(notes) are the only other Chiefs kickers with two 50-plus-yard field goals in a single game.
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