September 24 2000: Kansas City Chiefs 23 – Denver Broncos 22
After starting the 2000 season with back to back defeats, the Chiefs had finally got things moving with a morale boosting blowout win over the Chargers at Arrowhead in week 3. The following week looked rather tougher, as the team travelled to Mile High Stadium to face a Denver Broncos side heavily favoured by the Vegas bookies.
Kansas City couldn’t have got off to a much better start, though. From the opening kick-off, quarterback Elvis Grbac led the team on an 11-play, 80 yard drive which included four completions to tight end Tony Gonzalez, each of which was for over ten yards. The drive was rounded off by full-back Tony Richardson who drove through the middle from a yard out to open the scoring.
The Broncos gave as good as they got, and responded with an equally long drive – but the Chiefs defence managed to make a stand on their own goal line, holding Denver to a chip shot field goal from Joe Nedney (a member of the 1,000 points scored club over the course of his fifteen year, seven team career). Another solid drive to start the second quarter saw Nedney and the Broncos repeat the trick to bring the score to 7-6.
The next KC drive saw the Chiefs pinned in their own half, and an optimistic pass aimed towards Derrick Alexander was picked off by the Denver defence and returned for a touchdown – giving the home side the lead which they retained through to the half time break. With the first possession after the break, Denver gave the ball to running back Mike Anderson – he had four carries on the drive, the last of which saw him go 16 yards into the end zone.
After the one point kick, the Broncos led 19-7. The Chiefs needed to hit back, and in the very next drive, they were gifted a good field position by a pass interference call on a third-and-long pass to Derrick Alexander. With a new set of downs inside the Denver half, Grbac was able to get the team moving and rounded off with a pass to Tony Gonzalez to cut the deficit.
Little needs saying of course about ‘Gonzo’, who holds a stack of NFL records at his position across his 17 years in the NFL (most career TDs by a tight end; most career receptions by a tight end; most career receiving yards by a tight end…). 12 of those 17 years were as a Chief, and he also owns many franchise records – most receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns – not just as a tight end, but of any receiver for the team. When he becomes eligible in 2019, he is as close as it comes to a certainty to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame at the first time of asking.
Another Nedney field goal was the only other score in the third quarter, which kept Denver ahead 22 to 14. KC were chasing the game, but had to punt on their next possession – worse was to follow on the following drive as Grbac threw his second pick of the day, again targeting Derrick Alexander unsuccessfully. But Lady Luck was smiling on us, as in the very next play Rod Smith fumbled the ball after a catch, and the ball was back with KC – a few plays later, Pete Stoyanovich was able to kick a field goal to make it a one score game.
The Broncos punted the ball to Kansas City after a short drive, with 5 minutes remaining, and the team drove the ball once again 80 yards down the field, rounding off with a Grbac pass to Alexander for a touchdown and the lead. With three catches for 35 yards, this had been a fairly quiet game for wide receiver Derrick Alexander, up to the point where he caught the game winning score – but 2000 overall was not a quiet season for the former Michigan Wolverine. With six 100-yard games, and 10 touchdowns, he racked up a 1,391 yard total which remains the Chiefs’ single-season receiving record to this day.
After leading for so long, it was suddenly the hosts turn to have to chase the game – but the Broncos’ quarterback threw a pick to line-backer Marvcus Patton, allowing Grbac to take a knee and end the game. The Chiefs had won it by a point, and after another win the following week against Seattle, they had a well-earned bye week break, having turned an 0 and 2 start to the season into a 3 and 2 winning record.
Elsewhere in the NFL at the time:
Not all the games on this day were quite as close – Brett Favre’s Packers beat the Cardinals by 26 points, the Oakland Raiders beat the Browns by the same margin, but the whooping of the day came in Baltimore. Jamal Lewis rushed for a hundred yards and a touchdown as the Ravens beat the visiting Cincinnati Bengals 37-0!
Elsewhere in the world:
On the other side of the world, the Sydney Olympics were in full swing – the previous day British rower Steve Redgrave had entered the history books by winning gold at the fifth Olympic games in a row.