The Chiefs will feel even better if their starting quarterback gets on the field.
The Chiefs didn’t fully resemble the team that went 2-14 in 2008 in Sunday’s season opener at Baltimore. Playing against an opponent that reached the AFC championship game in January, Kansas City tied the score at 24 on Sean Ryan’s(notes) 10-yard TD reception with 5:21 to play.
However, the Chiefs gave up two touchdowns in the final 2:06 and Todd Haley lost his NFL coaching debut, 38-24.
“It wasn’t the result that we wanted but there are some things I look at coming out of Baltimore that make me feel like we’re making progress,” Haley said.
The Chiefs managed to stay close despite the injured Cassel sitting out.
There is hope Cassel, who hurt his left knee in a preseason game Aug. 29, will be able to start this weekend after running more briskly in practice Wednesday morning.
Kansas City signed Cassel to a six-year contract for a guaranteed $28 million in July after he threw for 3,693 yards with 21 touchdowns in leading New England to a 10-5 record last season. The Chiefs are hoping Cassel can turn around an offense that ranked 23rd in yards per game (323.0) and 26th in scoring (18.2 ppg) last season.
“The player’s doing everything he can to be ready, which generally helps speed the healing process,” Haley said.
Like the Chiefs, the Raiders also took some steps forward in their season opener despite coming out on the short end of a close game.
Oakland, which lost 11 games a year ago, blew a pair of fourth-quarter leads Monday night against San Diego and the three-time defending AFC West champion Chargers scored with 18 seconds left to win 24-20.
“Let’s face it. You feel good about playing that game the way we played it against that particular opponent,” coach Tom Cable said. “That’s all fine and dandy, but at the end of the day we didn’t get it done at the end, and that’s the next step. I think we really tasted it.
“Certainly going into this thing our expectations are high and they should be, but now we have to learn how to close out and win those close games.”
Oakland’s defense got a big boost from Richard Seymour(notes), who didn’t even go through a full practice with his new team. Seymour, acquired from New England last week, sacked Philip Rivers(notes) twice and helped the Raiders limit San Diego to 77 yards rushing.
The No. 1 overall pick in 2007 badly overthrew his intended targets at times and was 3 for 18 when throwing to his wideouts. Russell finished 12 of 30 for 208 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, dropping to 5-12 as an NFL starter.
“We left a lot of plays out there and we let some things get away from us,” Russell said. “The best thing to do about that is we have a short week coming up and Kansas City will be on our mind.”
These AFC West rivals split their two meetings last season with each team winning on the road.
The best game of Darren McFadden’s(notes) young career came at Kansas City on Sept. 14 of last season as he rushed for 164 yards and a touchdown in Oakland’s 23-8 win. His next-best rushing total in the NFL came last week with 68 yards on 17 carries.