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Take a Memo

Vermeil gets the Bronco monkey off his back

Posted 10-06-03

by CK Rairden
Landmark columnist

The Chiefs were fortunate to win this football game as nearly every ball bounced the Broncos way.

The Broncos had four fumbles, but lost only one. The defensive line tipped numerous Jake Plummer passes, but all either fell harmlessly to the turf, or miraculously into the hands of a waiting Broncos receiver. That aggravating bend but don’t break defense actually worked, but if the Broncos had been a little more creative with their play calling, it may not have.

But none of that matters thanks top the NFL’s newest superstar. The X-factor, “Big Play Dante.” Thanks to another incredible return for the ages, the Bronco’s monkey is off Dick Vermeil’s back, and this is the type of game championship teams miraculously pull out. The Chiefs are 5-0 for the first time in team history.

The memo pad is full, opening with “the way the ball bounces.”


—Missed fumble recovery by Gary Stills. (Though he did recover one.)

—Clinton Portis fumbles and it hit’s a Broncos lineman’s foot and he recovers.

—A sure interception is right in Chiefs LB Shawn Barber’s hands only to bounce off and fall to the turf.

—LB Mike Maslowski missed another sure interception when he was a second late at closing on another tipped Plummer pass.

—Priest Holmes fumbles for the first time this season and the ball bounces directly to the Broncos, squashing a sure scoring drive late in the game.


—The MVP in the NFL after five games—Dante Hall. Go ahead; name another player that has meant more to his team.

—Dante Hall’s post game comments included another reference to Al Pacino’s character “Scarface” from the 1983 movie classic. Props to the KC Star’s Ivan Carter for pointing out the obvious reference in his Sunday piece

—The most famous line from that film fits Big Play—Dante perfectly and it should be taken a step further. Al Pacino’s character should be played on the Arrowhead screens each time Dante Hall goes back to return a kick.

—“Say ’ello to my little friend.”


—The Chiefs offense is in a bit of a funk, and many fingers are pointing at QB Trent Green. That’s the wrong answer.

—The reason is clear; Priest Holmes is not getting enough touches. He only had 17 carries, and 4 receptions. 21 touches for the NFL’s best running back is not nearly enough.

—The result is Priest has had no touchdowns in two straight games, and the league's best offense has been slowed a bit.

—For this offense to be successful, it doesn’t have to be cute. Get Priest Holmes the damn ball.

—It’s easy to see the Chiefs trying to “force” getting other players involved, just as the Rams did once the critics complained that Marshall Faulk was too much of the Rams offense a few years back.

—But Holmes needs his touches, and this offense needs Holmes to get his touches. Once that happens, everything else falls into place. Green is better, the receivers get open more and the offense clicks.


—The Broncos were 1-4 in the red zone, settling for three FG’s. Props to this defense and its coordinator Greg Robinson. Aside from two big play breakdowns, it really did bend— but not break.

—The defensive stand on first and goal from the Chiefs four was the turning point in the game. For some reason Mike Shanahan took the ball out of Jake Plummer’s hands and ran Clinton Portis three straight times. Net gain, one-yard.

—Plummer wasn’t great, finishing with only a 78.9 passer rating, but still should have been given an opportunity to make something happen.

—The result of Shanahan’s “Marty-like” decision was a FG and a 23-17 lead, and a play it safe policy that cost the Broncos dearly.

—And I’m certain Mike Shanahan will be asked by the Denver media throughout the week why he went for a 53-yard FG late in the game instead of playing for field position.

—The other question for Shanahan will be—”Why are you kicking the ball to the league MVP?”

—This defense has passed its first real test. They were once again ball hawks, and with a few different bounces, this one could have turned the Chiefs way a lot sooner.


Dick Vermeil had struggled against the Broncos last season, losing both games, but that monkey is off his back. The Chiefs had never been 5-0, which is now history also. The Arrowhead mystique is back, as are the rabid fans as the noise inside the stadium was incredible, just like in the mid-nineties.

But a tough game lies ahead as the Chiefs head to Green Bay, where the Packers have snapped out of their early season funk, and will face yet another version of the West Coast offense. A win there will take a complete game from the offense and the way to achieve that is through Priest Holmes.

Next week, Priest Holmes needs 30 plus touches.


(CK Rairden can be reached by email at