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By John McMullen, NFL Editor - Archive - Email
Kansas City goes too far
Kansas City fans started cheering after Matt Cassel left with a head injury.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Deserved or not, the popular perception is the Midwest has fans who are far more even-tempered than those nasty East Coast cities.

Kansas City, however, became Philadelphia for at least for one afternoon when the fans started cheering after its own quarterback, Matt Cassel, left the team's 9-6 loss to Baltimore with a head injury.

Cassel has been a disaster on the field this season and the locals have even booed him at a charity softball game. Before the Chiefs' latest loss at the hands of the Ravens on Sunday, a plane was seen flying over Arrowhead Stadium with a banner that read, "We deserve better, fire (general manager Scott) Pioli, bench Cassel."

Earlier in the week, the fan behind the banner told KSN.com just how difficult it is to be a fan of the now 1-4 Chiefs.

"We are not just losing, we are just getting demolished left and right," said Eric, a Wichita-based Chiefs fan who wouldn't reveal his last name. "We are going to let them know exactly how we feel. We still love this team, we still want to see them succeed but, man, they have got to give us something to hope for."

"There's some passion behind that message," Corey Leuwerki, a pilot for the company hired for the job, told the Kansas City Star. "Because money is not normally raised this quick."

That passion turned ugly, however, when Cassel was forced to leave the contest with the Ravens in the fourth quarter after suffering the head injury.

The Chiefs' embattled signal caller had been having another tough day, being picked off twice and losing a fumble. He finished just 9-for-15 with 92 yards.

Cassel has been picked off nine times and has lost four fumbles this season and Romeo Crennel probably should have done the merciful thing and pulled the plug on Cassel before he got injured.

But, cheering when someone has to leave after getting his brain scrambled?

That's something that might even give the notorious fans in the City of Brotherly Love pause, as long if they weren't a member of the Dallas Cowboys or New York Giants.

Chiefs right tackle Eric Winston ripped his own fans afterward and rightfully so.

"We are athletes, OK? We are athletes," the veteran blocker said. "We are not gladiators. This is not the Roman Coliseum. People pay their hard-earned money when they come in here and I believe they can boo, they can cheer and they can do whatever they want.

"But when somebody gets hurt, when you cheer, when you cheer somebody getting knocked out, I don't care who it is, and it just so happened to be Matt Cassel -- it's sickening. It's 100 percent sickening. I've never been more embarrassed in my life to play football than in that moment right there."

Amen.

There are so many addictions in life. Drugs, alcohol, food ... you name the fixation and you can bet there is a PhD somewhere writing about how it ruins lives.

But, what about sports?

They might be the most powerful opiate of all, at least to a certain group of fanatics, who failed to learn it's all just entertainment. Kansas City was evidently loaded with these cretins on Sunday.

It's always a vocal minority which makes the others look bad and we all understand that. At the same time, however, it's clear there were a significant number of people in the City of Fountains more concerned about beating the Ravens than focusing on being a functioning member of civilized society.

THE MONDAY REWIND:

REDSKINS LOSE TWICE

As talented as Robert Griffin III is, it was hardly a surprise when he was knocked out in the third quarter Sunday against undefeated Atlanta with what was called a mild concussion.

All of D.C. held its breath when Griffin absorbed a big hit from Atlanta linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. The rookie remained on the field for several seconds and was like a punch drunk boxer when he first got up.

Following the NFL's concussion protocol, Griffin was removed from the game when he couldn't answer some basic questions, such as the score and what quarter it was.

When fellow rookie Kirk Cousins entered and promptly threw a 77-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss, forgive Redskins fans if they couldn't help think about Heath Shuler and Gus Frerotte if only for a brief moment.

Shuler, now the representative for North Carolina's 11th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, was once the third overall pick in the 1994 NFL Draft, but it became clear pretty quickly that Frerotte, a seventh-round pick and the 197th overall selection that same year, was a better option at signal caller.

The comparison ends there, of course. Griffin, the second overall choice in the 2012, can flat out play and Cousins, a fourth-round pick this year, subsequently threw two interceptions late in the fourth quarter after his TD toss during a 24-17 setback to the Falcons.

While Griffin has been as advertised, however, it's going to be imperative that Cousins also develops since RG3 has taken a beating and is hardly taking the steps necessary to avoid some of the punishing hits he has received during the Redskins' 2-3 start.

The Heisman Trophy winner has to understand the NFL isn't Baylor and all 11 players opposite from him can knock him loopy under the right circumstances.

"We'd like to have him throw the football away when he's outside of the pocket," veteran linebacker London Fletcher said, "and not take the hit like that."

Under league rules, Griffin will not be permitted to practice or play until he is cleared by independent neurologists not affiliated with the Redskins.

WIN ONE FOR CHUCK

Football is an emotional game, one littered with intangibles that are a nightmare for those who worship at the altar of statistics. You simply can't measure things like momentum, never mind heart.

Indianapolis stunned mighty Green Bay, 30-27, on Sunday in its first game without head coach Chuck Pagano, who was diagnosed with leukemia last week.

Pagano reportedly sent an email to each of his players earlier in the week, a note Colts offensive coordinator and interim coach Bruce Arians described as "very emotional."

"My condition will not determine my position," Pagano wrote in an excerpt of the letter released. "I understand the condition but choose to focus on my position. That is to stay positive and SERVE.

"WE WILL, WE CAN, WE MUST. WE HAVE NO CHOICE. BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY.

WE WILL OVERCOME.

"IT'S ALL IN THE PROPER STATE OF MIND."

No one will ever be able to quantify what that e-mail meant to each member of the Colts, but one thing is certain: Indianapolis beat a vastly superior football team and it did it for its coach.

Then again, you certainly can satisfy the Texas Instruments crowd with Andrew Luck's 362 passing yards and Reggie Wayne's 13 catches and 212 receiving yards.

"It seemed like a long week," said Wayne, who scored the game-winning TD with 35 seconds left while wearing orange gloves in support of Leukemia awareness. "As a team, we were able to just keep fighting, fighting, fighting."

IMPRESSING THE COMMISH

Much was made of just how poorly the replacement officials performed until Gene Steratore and Co. showed up on Sept. 27 in Baltimore.

Sunday's game between the Minnesota Vikings and Tennessee Titans proved the real refs are hardly infallible, however.

With NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in attendance, it seemed like Larry Triplette and crew came in with an itchy trigger finger and yellow got just as much play as purple and blue, at least early in a 30-7 Vikings win.

Impressive Minnesota rookie Harrison Smith was tossed in the second quarter for "shoving" back judge Steve Freeman during a confrontation with several Titans after an Antoine Winfield interception.

"He grabbed the official," Triplette said. "The official was trying to separate him and he pushed the official to the side. That's an automatic ejection."

Smith understood what he did was wrong and quickly apologized after the contest.

"Right after it happened, I realized I put my hands on the official," Smith said. "You just can't do it, period. So, I apologize to him. I apologize to my coaches, to my teammates, to the fans. It's just unacceptable."

While it certainly wasn't a smart decision by Smith, who has been one of the keys in the Vikings' defensive turnaround early this season, it was pretty clear there was no intent.

There are the rules and the spirit of those rules. The real referees should be savvy enough to use their discretion and try not to stack the deck against a particular team. After all, we all want the players deciding these games and not middle-aged men in striped shirts, right?

Freeman decided to escort Smith out of the way instead of several Titans. While Smith should have walked away, Freeman should also have understood the position he was putting the player in, a position he wasn't putting several others who were doing the same thing as Smith.

Minnesota, which was already down two safeties before the game started (the injured Mistral Raymond and Andrew Sendejo), was forced to go with rookie Robert Blanton for 2 1/2 quarters.

Blanton, a teammate of Smith's at Notre Dame and a player trying to make the transition from college cornerback to pro safety, had played only a handful of special teams snaps before being pressed into action, and he and the Vikings defense persevered as Matt Hasselbeck failed to take advantage of the situation.

"You've got to come in with your experience and help him out," Vikings strong safety Jamarca Sanford said of playing alongside Blanton. "He came in today and he knew what he was doing. He did a good job preparing during the week. He did a good job filling in."

WHEN BAD LUCK TURNS GOOD

Danny Amendola was probably feeling a little snake-bitten after injuring his collarbone in Thursday night's upset over Arizona. One of the NFL's best slot receivers, Amendola was in the midst of quite a comeback after missing most of the 2011 season after needing season-ending triceps surgery.

Turns out, missing six or seven weeks for what is being described as a sternoclavicular joint separation is tame compared to what could have happened to Amendola.

Jay Glazer of FOXSports reported that Amendola's injury was actually life threatening. Normally with a separation or dislocation in the shoulder, the clavicle pops out but in Amendola's instance, it actually popped inward toward the aorta and trachea. Doctors said they had never seen this type injury in the NFL, only in near fatal car accidents.

BREES-ING TO HISTORY

Drew Brees broke a 52-year-old record in the first quarter and then orchestrated a 10-point comeback in the second half as the New Orleans Saints downed the San Diego Chargers, 31-24, on Sunday.

And Sean Payton was there to see it.

Brees, who completed 29-of-45 passes for 370 yards with four touchdowns and an interception, has now thrown a touchdown pass in 48 straight games, snapping Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas' mark of 47 that had held since 1960.

"It's unbelievable," Brees remarked. "I just tried to take in the moment a little bit after the game, walking around the locker room and sharing that with my teammates, guys that are obviously as big a part of this record as anyone."

Payton, the suspended Saints' head coach, had been given permission to attend the contest to watch Brees take aim at one of the NFL's most enduring records.

Payton, of course, is currently serving a year-long suspension for his role in the Saints illegal bounty program from 2009-2011, which included payments to players for inflicting game-ending injuries on competitors.

Payton, as well as assistant head coach Joe Vitt and general manager Mickey Loomis, were to avoid any contact with the team during their ban, but Brees lobbied commissioner Roger Goodell for the three to be in attendance Sunday as he went after Unitas' record.

"You really couldn't have written a better script for tonight," Brees remarked. "To break the record, to get the win, in the fashion in which we won, it was really a complete effort all the way around."

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING

- New England quarterback Tom Brady passed for 223 yards and a touchdown in the Patriots' 31-21 win over Denver. Brady has a touchdown pass in 37 consecutive games and passed Brett Favre for the third-longest streak in NFL history behind Brees and Unitas.

-The Bears' Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs each returned an interception for a touchdown in Chicago's 41-3 rout at Jacksonville. Tillman and Briggs also recorded pick-sixes last week at Dallas, making them the first set of teammates in NFL history to return an interception for a touchdown in consecutive games.

- New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 200 yards and wide receiver Victor Cruz had three touchdown receptions in the team's 41-27 win over Cleveland. It marked the first time since 1960 that a team had a 200-plus yard rusher and a player with at least three touchdown catches in a game.

- Luck's 362 passing yards and Wayne's 212 receiving yards in the Colts' win over Green Bay marked the second consecutive week in which a team had a rookie pass for at least 350 yards and a player record 200-plus receiving yards (Miami's Ryan Tannehill and Brian Hartline tuned the trick at Arizona in Week 4). This is the first time in NFL history it has been accomplished twice in a season.

- Quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 345 yards and two touchdowns in the Falcons' 24-17 win over Washington. "Matty Ice" led Atlanta to 17 fourth-quarter points and recorded his 18th career game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime. That is the most by any quarterback during his first five NFL seasons in the Super Bowl era.

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