- Associated Press - Monday, January 9, 2012

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Going 2-1 and stunning then-undefeated Green Bay as Kansas City’s interim head coach meant a lot more than gratification for Romeo Crennel.

It also persuaded the Kansas City Chiefs to give the affable defensive specialist a second chance to be an NFL head coach.

The Chiefs announced Monday that Crennel was the official replacement for the fired Todd Haley, removing the interim tag he bore for the last three weeks of the season.

“The three games had a lot to do with where we arrived at this decision,” general manager Scott Pioli said. “Some of the things we saw was a great deal of accountability and consistency. There was also a different energy to the football team. A lot of it had to do with those last three games.”

Warm and personable, Crennel, 64, is a sharp departure from Haley. Often called a “players’ coach” he’s been known to write off mistakes as youthful indiscretions. Ironically, being soft with players was a criticism when he was fired after four years as coach in Cleveland with a 24-40 record.

He was an instant hit with Chiefs players while serving as Haley’s defensive coordinator the past two years. After the Chiefs beat the Packers 19-14 on Dec. 18 in their first game with Crennel in charge, the Chiefs chanted his nickname, “RAC! RAC!” as they ran up the tunnel.

He was always considered the front-runner to replace Haley, even though Pioli said he interviewed “more than half a dozen” candidates.

Thomas sprinted into record book

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — For such a slow starter, Demaryius Thomas sure dashed right into history.

Betrayed by his body, it took the Denver Broncos’ newest star until the end of his second NFL season to validate his status as the first wide receiver selected in the 2010 draft, ahead of Dallas’ Dez Bryant.

Now he’s a household name, despite playing in Denver’s read-option offense, where wide receivers serve more as blockers and decoys than pass-catchers.

Thomas ended the quickest overtime in NFL history - 11 seconds - with the longest winning touchdown in any playoff game. His electrifying 80-yard catch Sunday from Tim Tebow sent the Broncos to a 29-23 win over Pittsburgh.

Dogged by a broken foot, sprained ankle, concussion, torn Achilles and fractured finger since turning pro, Thomas said Monday he never doubted he’d regain his health and prove he was a worthy first-rounder.

“It was just the freak accidents that were just happening,” Thomas said. “I knew once I got back on the field and got healthy, I can make some plays and help my team.”

Refreshed Ravens ready for visit from Texans

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