December 26 2010: Kansas City Chiefs 34 – Tennessee Titans 14
This week’s Blast from the Past takes us back the short hop to Kansas City’s last divisional title. The Denver Broncos were a bad team, regardless of whether they gave Tim Tebow or Kyle Orton the ball, and KC was just about heading a good three way battle between the other AFC West teams when the Tennessee Titans came to town for a Boxing Day game. A win was much needed, and a commanding first half performance would see mission accomplished with the minimum of trouble.
The Chiefs received the ball, and were in enemy territory after a single play as QB Matt Cassel found Dwayne Bowe for a 20 yard completion. The passing plays continued to Tim Castille, Dexter McCluster, and finally to Jamaal Charles who took a short pass into the end zone to open the scoring.
After a Tennessee drive ended with the ball being handed over on downs, KC again marched down the field with a pass-heavy drive, with Cassel hitting four different receivers and ending with another short scoring pass to Charles.
Jamaal Charles, a 2008 third round draft choice, had a good 2009 season, but finally broke out as a genuine star this year. With 8 touchdowns to go with just shy of 2,000 yards from scrimmage, this season saw him picked for the Pro Bowl for the first time. A one-team player, he holds the Chiefs rushing yardage record.
A Ryan Succop field goal on the Chiefs’ next possession stretched the lead still further. Tennessee had to punt the ball in their next drive but at least managed to pin Kansas City back into a bad field position – this didn’t help them though, as Cassel hit wide receiver Dwayne Bowe with a bomb which he converted into a 75 yard touchdown and a 24-0 lead.
Bowe was the Chiefs’ first round draft pick in 2007, and had played well for his first three seasons – but like Charles, this was his breakout year. A thousand receiving yards was good, but 15 receiving touchdowns was incredible and led the league – resulting in Bowe joining his colleague in a first Pro Bowl call-up. Sadly, his career was one of slow decline from this pinnacle season. By 2014 he had reached over 7,000 receiving yards, good for third all-time in Kansas City, but he left the club with the feeling he could have done so much more.
The Titans finally got on the scoreboard with a pass to Kenny Britt, and the Chiefs handed the ball back to them after a missed field goal attempt late in the half. However, Titans quarterback Kerry Collins immediately threw an interception to safety Eric who returned it 56 yards for a touchdown, to make the half time score 31-7.
Rookie Berry was a first round pick in the 2010 draft and immediately started all 16 games in his first season. This was his first and only score of the season – since then he has accumulated 13 interceptions of which five were returned for touchdowns (along with, to date, the only interception to be returned for a defensive two point conversion). Like Charles and Bowe, Berry was also a Pro Bowl selection for the 2010 season. His recovery from a 2014 cancer diagnosis to be the NFL’s 2015 comeback player of the year is a truly remarkable one.
After a breathless first half, the game was over as a contest, and the second half was a much calmer affair. Another field goal stretched the lead before a Titans TD by tight end Jared Cook completed the scoring and gave the home team a very straightforward win.
Elsewhere in the NFL at the time:
After opening the game with two pick-sixes inside the first 7 minutes, the Arizona Cardinals somehow find themselves trailing to the Cowboys late on, before a field goal from Jay Feely with the last play of the game rescues a 27-26 win.
Elsewhere in the world:
In Melbourne, England opened the Boxing Day Ashes test by bowling out Australia for 98 – before then scoring 157 runs without losing a wicket to close the day, on the way to what would end up a victory by an innings.