October 21st 1999: Kansas City Chiefs 35 – Baltimore 8
In ten seasons as head coach of the Chiefs, Marty Schottenheimer led the team to 101 wins and only 58 defeats, making the playoffs seven times. But after a disappointing 1998 season, he had decided it was time to go, and so the 1999 season saw his Defensive Co-ordinator Gunther Cunningham promoted to the top job.
The Chiefs had made a respectable 3-and-2 start to the season, and following a week 6 bye they headed over to Baltimore to face the Ravens in a televised Thursday night game. Defences were on top early in the game, and there was a scoreless opening quarter before Kansas City got the game moving through an 11 yard pass from Elvis Grbac to tight end Tony Gonzalez.
“Gonzo” was a junior player at this point – drafted as a first rounder in 1997, he had scored five touchdowns in his first two seasons and had become a regular starter for the team. But it was this season that saw him become a star, scoring 11 touchdowns in 16 games, which the most for any player in the team. By the time he left for the Atlanta Falcons in 2009, he had piled up 78 touchdowns and over 10,000 yards for the Chiefs: he leads the franchise in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns.
That was all for the first half, and the third quarter would also only see a single score. Ravens quarterback Stoney Case threw an ambitious pass which was picked off by the Chiefs’ cornerback James Hasty who ran the ball back over half the length of the field for a touchdown. Hasty was close to the end of a career which would see him make over two hundred NFL starts. He was drafted by the Jets and played for seven seasons in New York before moving to KC. Over the course of six seasons at Arrowhead he scored four defensive touchdowns – apart from this one, the other three came in three separate games against the Oakland Raiders.
Entering the final quarter with a 14-0 deficit, the Ravens still saw a chance of clawing the game back, but within the space of two minutes this hope was snuffed out. First, Elvis Grbac found Tony Gonzalez with another touchdown pass, and then in Baltimore’s next possession, hapless quarterback Case threw another interception. This time it went to safety Reggie Tongue, but the result was the same as the last time, as Tongue took it 38 yards to the end zone to give Kansas City a 28-0 lead.
Reggie Tongue had been drafted as a second rounder by the Chiefs, and this was the first time he had scored for the team – his second time would be the very next week, in a blowout win over the Chargers.
Baltimore finally managed to get on the scoresheet with only five minutes to go in the game, but this still left enough time for KC to make one final drive which was rounded off by running back Bam Morris from a yard out. After this win, the Chiefs continued to make steady progress, and at 9-and-6 entering the final week, only needed a win – or even a tie – against the Raiders to reach the post season. The game went to overtime after finishing 38-38, and the Raiders kicked the game winning field goal in overtime to end the Chiefs’ season.
Elsewhere in the NFL at the time:
The New York Jets looked set to clinch a solid away win in Oakland, leading the Raiders 20 points to 3 late in the 3rd. But a Rich Gannon inspired Raiders team came back with three touchdowns to secure a 24-23 comeback win – ironically Gannon’s winning touchdown pass with 26 seconds on the clock went to receiver James Jett!
Elsewhere in the world:
A sad month for American sports, as this month saw the deaths of Payne Stewart (twice winner of the US Open Golf), Gorilla Monsoon (former world wrestling champion and tag team champion), and Wilt Chamberlain (who scored over 100 points in a single basketball game in 1962, still by some way the single game record)