"For how long?" someone asked him.
"Kenny's still our quarterback," he said.
Pat Ryan is one of those quarterbacks whose destiny is to be a backup. In nine seasons he has had 13 starts. Always competent and at times brilliant, Ryan never tries to do things he has been told he isn't capable of doing. Nimble of foot and extremely intelligent, he has the knack of keeping a drive going. The interesting thing is that when he ran the show this season—against the Patriots and the Broncos, while O'Brien was nursing a sprained knee—the team won the same way it did Sunday: with thunder on the ground against teams that were supposedly very tough against the run.
McNeil, a former Pro Bowler, pounded the left side of the Chiefs' defense, especially end Pete Koch, the weakest lineman, and Tim Cofield, the rookie outside linebacker. The idea worked out well. McNeil rushed for 135 yards as the Jets gained 165 yards on the ground, which was their highest total in 11 weeks.
But that was only half the battle. There was the matter of stopping the K.C. attack. Defensive coach Bud Carson had been fired by the Chiefs' John Mackovic before the start of the 1984 season. So the game was special to him. "Bud didn't say anything, but he didn't have to," outside linebacker Bob Crable said. "To say the game didn't have extra meaning to Bud would have been the understatement of the decade."
Still the Chiefs, with the lowest-rated offense in the NFL, marched 67 yards in nine plays for a TD on their opening drive. But that was their last serious threat. They fumbled on their first play the next time they had the ball. They were held to minus nine yards in the second quarter. The Jets put together three long drives, and at halftime the score was 21-6. The game was over. Carson, whose blitzing defense was burned by the Bengals, pulled back into a conservative type of zone. K.C.'s Todd Blackledge, starting for the injured Bill Kenney, couldn't find his receivers in the forest downfield.
So now the Jets go to Cleveland to try to get to the AFC championship game. Walton was cagey on who would be his starting quarterback, but unless O'Brien's arm recovers, it will be Ryan. Who knows? It has been a strange season for the Jets.