Published September 20, 2010
It's been a long time since the Chiefs were the ones who found a way to make winning plays at the end. Not since 2005 have they been 2-0, and not since 2006 have they finished a regular season even one game above .500.
But in the rain-soaked 21-14 victory over San Diego in the season opener, the Chiefs held on after the Chargers had first-and-goal from the 4 in the final minute.
In Sunday's ragged 16-14 victory at Cleveland, the offense overcame two interceptions and the defense pitched a second-half shutout. In fact, in two games now against the Browns and Chargers, the defense has given up only seven second-half points.
In their first two games last year, both losses, they allowed 38.
Sure, there are warts. Nobody is denying the Chiefs have issues, particularly on offense.
"I think it's an encouraging sign that our guys have been able to hang together and fight through adversity in each of these games, to stick together and make enough plays to win," Haley said Monday.
The players were given until 5 p.m. to enjoy the Browns win before they getting mentally prepared for this week's home game against San Francisco. The 49ers, like the Chiefs last week, will have played on a Monday night and then crossed time zones to do battle in an unfriendly stadium.
Take it from the Chiefs, that's not easy.
"But it does feel good to do it," said wide receiver Chris Chambers. "It's good to get a victory on the road and in a pretty hostile environment."
Haley said all last week he tried to hide from the public and media what a tough time his team was having. Heavy rains fell throughout the Monday night game against San Diego, which makes the field soggy and tends to make legs even more sore the next day.
"Last week was a very, very difficult week," Haley said. "I probably didn't let on much, or tried not to, but it was a very difficult week both mentally and physically for all of us, most specifically the players, for a lot of different reasons.
"But as the week went on, though we never had one of those A-plus practices, we were able to get a little better each day."
Haley believes there are things a team can learn only by winning.
"When you do have some success and a team's coming off a win, it is generally an excellent opportunity to coach and be as critical as you can of techniques and the way you do things. Generally, their force field is not quite the way it is when you've not had success."
If they can get by the 49ers, the Chiefs will go into their early bye week 3-0. That could be an enormous boost for a young team and a franchise that hasn't won a postseason game since the 1993 season.
But don't tell the Chiefs they're lucky to be 2-0.
"We put a lot of work in and now all that work is starting to pay off," said Chambers. "But we still have a lot of work to go. We have to get better. You can see it from all angles.
"It's nice when you win a couple of games in a row and get some momentum going, get some confidence and start building something, but we know the things we need to work on. We're very critical of the mistakes we made."