American Football: Familiar Failings for Head Chief

By Tench, Matt | The Independent (London, England), January 9, 1996 | Go to article overview
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American Football: Familiar Failings for Head Chief


Tench, Matt, The Independent (London, England)


American football

MATT TENCH

January is a cruel month for Marty Schottenheimer. One of the most experienced head coaches in the business, the leader of the Kansas City Chiefs has made a name for himself by turning round franchises and coaxing winning performances from moderate teams.

Once the play-offs begin, however, his record trails off like a Duran Duran single. For all his success, Schottenheimer has never been to a Super Bowl. This year, though, he appeared destined for a happier New Year. Having taken the original route to success of no longer employing Joe Montana, the Chiefs compiled the best regular season record in the league.

This guaranteed them home advantage throughout the post-season and, as they had not been beaten at Arrowhead Stadium all year, or in any play- off game, their fans were entitled to be looking up flights to Arizona.

That their visitors on Sunday were the Indianapolis Colts only heightened the optimism. The Colts, who squeaked into the the play-offs, upset the odds by winning in San Diego a week ago, but were without the running back Marshall Faulk, their only outstanding player, and looked ripe for a beating.

When Steve Bono found Lake Dawson for a 20-yard TD in the first quarter such confidence seemed well-placed. But once the Colts had drawn level - from a Jim Harbaugh pass to Floyd Turner - Schottenheimer was faced with a massive dose of deja vu. His offense repeatedly stalled, and on the rare occasions they ventured within field-goal range Lin Elliott missed them, from 35, 39 and 43 yards.

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