Going almost a year without winning can play tricks on a man's mind.
Just ask coach Herm Edwards, who had trouble sleeping Sunday night after his Kansas City Chiefs halted a franchise-record 12-game losing streak with a 33-19 victory over Denver.
"I kept asking my wife about 1 o'clock, 'We won, right?'" Edwards said Tuesday. "She said, 'Yeah, you won, honey.'"
Their first victory since Oct. 21, 2007, was especially important for the raft of young players on the roster of the rebuilding Chiefs, Edwards said. Coaches had noted that many of the rookies were beginning to doubt whether they even belonged in the NFL after an 0-3 start that included back-to-back blowout losses to Oakland and Atlanta.
"I think they were questioning themselves," Edwards said. "They were questioning their talent. You can't question that. The way you overcome that, you've got to just keep playing. Just play with energy. Just keep going fast. Just keep playing hard."
Two-time Pro Bowler Larry Johnson ran for 198 yards, but most encouraging for Kansas City's long-term picture was the energy and verve displayed by rookies. Two were given game balls. Dantrell Savage had a 51-yard kickoff return that swung the fourth-quarter momentum back to Kansas City, and cornerback Brandon Carr played well against Denver's high-powered passing attack.
"The one thing you have when you're a young guy, you have talent. That's what gets you in this league," Edwards said. "But you also have passion. You're not going to know how to do everything correctly. That's part of the process of learning how to play. And so, you've got to keep playing with your passion. Don't let your passion die because you make mistakes and start thinking, overanalyzing things, and you play like a robot.
"You've got to go play. We made some errors. We didn't do everything right on either side of the football. But I thought the way we played, we played so hard, you cover up for it. If you continue to play that way, you're going to continue to get better. That's what we're trying to do."
Rookie left tackle Branden Albert, one of two first-round draft picks starting for the Chiefs, injured his elbow in the first half and may not be able to play this week at Carolina. Edwards said the elbow was in a brace.
"I would say he's probably questionable this week," Edwards said. "His elbow is pretty swollen. He's better than he was after the game, but his elbow is really swollen."
Edwards was uncertain how much time Albert would miss, but he doubted the rookie would need surgery.
"Not that we know of at this point," he said. "It was good, nothing broken, just one of those kind of like when your finger comes out, you put it back in. Except it's an elbow, and that's kind of bigger than a finger."
Cornerback Patrick Surtain, out for three weeks with a shoulder injury, planned to start practicing this week and could be ready for playing time against Carolina.
Edwards was also asked about tight end Tony Gonzalez expressing his disappointment at not being thrown a pass at the end of the game to get the 3 yards he needed to set the career receiving record for his position.
Gonzalez, readily agreeing the victory was more important than anything else, said he was nevertheless disappointed not to have gotten the record at home in front of Chiefs fans who have been so supportive. He had 12 family members at the game, waiting to see him make football history, but no passes were thrown his way until late in the third quarter.
Edwards said that once he became aware that Gonzalez needed only 3 yards, it was late in the game and the Chiefs had only a one-possession lead against an opponent averaging 38 points.
"In a game like that, I couldn't do it. I just couldn't. It wouldn't be right. It wouldn't be fair," Edwards said. "It wouldn't be fair to me. It wouldn't be fair to the football team. It wasn't anything against Tony at all."
Gonzalez will likely get the record at Carolina. When the Chiefs return to action against Tennessee at home on Oct. 19 following their bye week, they will have a pregame ceremony honoring him.