No matter what the Kansas City Chiefs were going to do on the day, it belonged to the shock from the events of the 24 hours prior to the game. Still, with Jovan Belcher on everyone’s mind, it was Brady Quinn, believe it or not, who stepped up and delivered the best game of his career.
Maybe the Carolina Panthers were overwhelmed by the emotion in the stadium and engulfing the Kansas City Chiefs in a game a lot of people thought shouldn’t be played. For once, the Chiefs didn’t look like the worst team in the NFL. Jamaal Charles ran for 127 yards; Brady Quinn didn’t throw any interceptions, instead completing two touchdowns passes, 19 of his 23 passes for 201 yards in a game without any turnovers.
Cam Newton was great, with 232 yards and 3 touchdown passes, but it wasn’t enough on a day that had a Chiefs win written all over it. Sometimes these things are decided elsewhere, not on the field. When it came down to it, the Chiefs made one more defensive stop than the Panthers and did very well to make perfect use of the clock, gaining more than 37 minutes of possession.
But the locker room, before and after the game, seemed to be where everything was happening. Games that overshadowed by death, this time of a player, a teammate, who killed his girlfriend and then committed suicide couldn’t be moved out of the spotlight and of the minds of everyone who was at Arrowhead on Sunday.
Those who handled the emotion better than the rest excelled. Surprisingly, Brady Quinn was the one to make the most of the opportunity. He posted a 97.6 Total QBR in Sunday’s win over the Panthers, his career high as a starter. Quinn had never previously had a single-game QBR above 80 as a starter and hadn’t had a game above 60 since Week 15 of 2009. He set a franchise record with an 82.6% completion rate.
Quinn led a drive to open the game, ending with Peyton Hillis scoring a touchdown. That was the Chiefs’ first opening-drive touchdown since 2010. They ended the half with an 80 yard drive that took seven and a half minutes to complete. Hillis was stuffed at the line on third-and-goal, and Crennel allowed the clock to hit 2 seconds before calling timeout. On the final play of the half, Quinn saw Moeaki open in the back of the end zone and delivered a soft toss for a 17-14 lead.
The season is lost for Kansas City, who like everyone in the AFC West, were thinking about the playoffs when 2012 began. Still, not all is lost. There are contracts to play for, a place in the future of this team and this league. Maybe Brady Quinn has the most to gain from the next few weeks than anyone else. The Chiefs won their first home game of the season thanks to him,and winning the crowd on his side might be just as important as gaining a little bit of confidence as the goes on to battle for his career. Who knows: maybe performances like the one he gave vs the Panthers aren’t going to be such a rarity in the near future.