The Kansas City Chiefs don't seem to understand the concept of the old sports adage, "Act like you've been there before." Then again, when you haven't held a lead in regulation through your first eight games, it's tough to know where "there" is. The Chiefs, who are clearly not used to success, went a bit overboard in Monday night's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, breaking out choreographed celebrations to mark various accomplishments.
One wonders how good they'd be if they spent that time working on plays.
Perhaps the most embarrassing incident happened halfway through the third quarter, when Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich appeared to fumble the ball on a pass attempt, and Kansas City linebacker Justin Houston returned the allegedly fumbled football for a defensive touchdown. After reviewing the play, referee Carl Cheffers decreed that Leftwich had actually thrown an incomplete pass. However, the penalty given to the Chiefs for their group celebration in the end zone would stand. It turned a Pittsburgh fourth down into a Pittsburgh first down, and added 15 yards to the Steelers' drive.
So, yes ... the Chiefs were penalized for celebrating a touchdown that did not technically exist.
Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel, who had to threaten his entire team with benchings last week because the turnover ratio was so out of hand, was back at it in response to this recent lack of fundamentals. This time, Crennel had to crack down on dancing ... like some sort of modern-day Reverend Shaw Moore.
Question was, where did all this ridiculousness come from?
"I have no idea," Crennel told Adam Teicher of the Kansas City Star on Tuesday. "It was a surprise to me to see some of those celebrations, per se. The rules are explicit about no celebrating, particularly group celebrations. You cannot have those. Our guys, they know the rules and they should not have done it. I will talk to my players about that, and I don't expect it to happen again."
Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe could have been penalized on an apparent touchdown reception earlier in the third quarter, when he held the ball out in a clear taunting gesture as he was going into the end zone. Fortunately for Bowe, we guess, left tackle Branden Albert was flagged for holding, and the touchdown was negated. The call against Albert was ticky-tack at best and wouldn't have held up under close scrutiny, but that's beside the point. This is a team that was 1-7 at the time, acting like they were on the right side of a Super Bowl blowout.
Just who the heck do these guys think they are?
"We had some penalties that were really uncharacteristic of the guys on this team," Crennel said. "They were celebrating and dancing and those kinds of things. With the record we have, we really can't afford to be dancing or anything like that. Our focus should be on trying to play good football and trying to do everything to help the team win and not do things that cost the team field position and give a good opponent some momentum and those kinds of things.
"I do have a young team and I keep mentioning that all the time. Young guys do make young mistakes. We're going to educate those guys about their actions … and then we're going to eliminate it."
With all due respect to Coach Crennel, the "young team" excuse doesn't really hold water. NFL age data obviously moves around a lot as teams add and subtract to their rosters, but per our own Brian McIntyre, the Chiefs currently have the 13th youngest active roster in the NFL. Houston is in his second NFL season, and Bowe is a six-year veteran.
Denver Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman is currently the NFL's youngest player -- the rookie from San Diego State turned 21 five days after the Broncos' Sept. 9 regular-season opener. You think Hillman is planning any stupid stunts?
"Being the youngest guy in the league is something to brag about," Hillman told the Denver Post earlier this month. "But you can't use that as an excuse. They expect me to play like a 25-year-old vet. I've got to know what to do and how to do it."
Precisely. And if the players don't know what to do and how to do it, that's on the organization for not instilling those values. After-the-fact media dress-downs from coaches do no good at all, and in Crennel's case, they just prove what we already know. This Chiefs franchise has no sense of the day-to-day things that make great teams great.