Chiefs strive to keep momentum after 49-0 win

Tuesday, December 3, 2002

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- As a reward for their 49-0 trouncing of the troubled Arizona Cardinals, the Kansas City Chiefs were excused from practice Monday.

Given the historic scope of the victory -- which put them in the record book and kept them in the playoff chase -- the Chiefs probably deserved an expense-paid trip to Las Vegas.

But can they sustain the momentum? The week before handing the Cardinals the most lopsided loss in the history of that franchise by holding them to 122 total yards, the Chiefs (6-6) gave up more than 500 yards in a demoralizing 39-32 loss to underdog Seattle.

"The one thing that always carries over is confidence," Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil said Monday. "Confidence in the National Football League, for all the reasons, varies from week to week. You can get on a roll and gain momentum. I like to think we play as though we've gained momentum all the time."

The Seattle game, which saw the defense revert to its terrible September form after seeming to make progress the three previous weeks, was on everyone's mind all last week.

"I think the carry-over is of confidence," Vermeil said. "Plus, for us, it's the erasing of the negative experience in Seattle. It's the washing it out of our mind and proving to ourselves that we can do it."

In gaining their first shutout since 1999, the Chiefs held the Cardinals to just 22 yards in the second half.

"Now, we have to say was it a mirage? Can we actually do that 2-3 times? We have to do it four weeks in a row," Vermeil said. "We have to play just like that four weeks in a row."

Striving to avoid being shut out of the postseason for the fifth year in a row, the Chiefs figure they'll need to win their last four regular-season games and finish 10-6. They have St. Louis at home this week, followed by trips to AFC West rivals Denver and Oakland, and one last home game against AFC West leader San Diego.

After the Seattle debacle, several players said there might have been a letdown after appearing to get their defense headed back in the right direction.

"I don't think that's a possibility this week," Vermeil said. "But sometimes you start relaxing a little bit, you lose your sense of urgency. And defenses play fundamental technique, speed and emotional intensity. If you lose some of that and the other team gains some, then there's a break, one goes up and the other goes down.

"That's what happened (against Seattle) and that's what happened to the Arizona Cardinals. They went down and we went up. You could feel it," Vermeil said. "Having been on both sides, I like the way it was yesterday better."

Chiefs running back Priest Holmes, with 113 yards against the Cardinals, barely maintained his lead in the NFL rushing race, with 1,322 yards to 1,318 for San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson and 1,284 for Miami's Ricky Williams.

And knowing the Chiefs have to win their last four to stay alive in the playoff picture does not bother Holmes one bit.

"Actually, it makes it a little easier than at the beginning of the season when you are looking at 16 games," said Holmes, who personally outgained the Cardinals with 169 total yards. "It's just a matter of playing each game and seeing where you end up."

Holmes' two touchdowns extended his team record for consecutive games with a rushing TD to 10. With 113 yards rushing, Holmes tied Christian Okoye's team record of 14 100-yard games.

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