Among the too-oft repeated adages regarding sportsmanship, there is one that expresses a sentiment of taking a loss with dignity and grace.
In their final game of the 2013 regular season against the San Diego Chargers‘ very best lineup, the Kansas City Chiefs, with nothing to win or lose, played their hearts out while being manned almost entirely with backup players in order to rest their starters for the upcoming playoffs. Kansas City ended up losing to their AFC West rivals the Chargers in overtime, 27-24.
By all rights the Chiefs really should have won that game. Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop is typically a very reliable field goal kicker, and because of a missed call on the Chargers on his rare miss he was denied a second chance from five yards closer — one that he predictably could have made — which would have given the Chiefs the win.
The NFL practically added insult to injury when it issued an official apology for missing the illegal formation call, which is all fine and well considering the Chiefs’ lost nothing in terms of the playoffs. But that probably did little to comfort the Pittsburgh Steelers and their fans who would have gone to the playoffs and faced the Cincinnati Bengals this weekend had the Chargers lost.
But while quarterback Alex Smith, running back Jamaal Charles and the rest of the benched Chiefs starters watched, the backup squad, particularly the defense, played ferociously with a passion and purpose. They never got discouraged and threw in the towel as they ran the Chargers all the way to the overtime showdown.
The Chiefs showed they have the caliber and the makings of any of the top teams in the league with their reserves in this contest. If this is a preview of what Kansas City has planned for the postseason, opponents should be on their toes and fans should plan on having their expectations exceeded.
Saturday, January 4 will see the Chiefs go on the road to face the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Kickoff is at 3:35 p.m. CST.