Going into the Kansas City game, the Chiefs' left cornerback, Gary Green, said the key to stopping Air Coryell was to get up tight, to cut off the quick patterns. For a while it worked. An inside linebacker named Frank Manumaleuga popped up in the lanes and picked off two Fouts passes. But in the meantime Fouts had found the matchup he wanted, Winslow against Strong Safety Herb Christopher. Winslow, who had caught only five passes in his first two games, caught six in the first half.
The Chiefs shut off Winslow by doubling up on him and bumping him in the second half; they rushed only three men most of that half, they played tough coverages and they nearly won it. But there was still one scary moment when the Chargers sowed utter confusion and broke Joiner down the left sideline, uncovered. Fouts' pass was overthrown.
"That was embarrassing," Kansas City Free Safety Gary Barbara said. "They throw so much motion and stuff at you that they'll occasionally get that. It has never happened to us before, but I can't tell you how many times I've seen them do it to other people on the films."
The dark side to Air Coryell can be found in one statistic. Time of possession. Two weeks ago the Lions kept the Chargers' defense on the field for more than 38 minutes. The Chiefs controlled the ball almost nine minutes more than the Chargers did. In the long run those numbers will wear down a defense.
"We really prepared hard for San Diego today," Green said, "as hard as anything we've ever prepared for in this world. But now we're 2-1, they're 3-0." And passing.