Blast From The Past – Wildcard Weekend

January 8 1994: Kansas City Chiefs 27 – Pittsburgh Steelers 24

Coach Marty Schottenheimer came into the 1993 season with a solid defence, headed by stars Neil Smith and Derrick Thomas. In a great piece of business, the Chiefs added veteran QB Joe Montana and RB Marcus Allen to boost the other side of the ball. This worked to great effect as both of the new additions had Pro Bowl seasons and the Chiefs won the AFC West with an 11-5 record, and headed into the playoffs with a home tie against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

On a freezing day at Arrowhead, the Chiefs had the ball for the first possession of the game but couldn’t get things moving. After a punt downfield, the Steelers marched 66 yards back to take the lead with a touchdown pass to tight end Adrian Cooper. Later in the quarter, as the Chiefs were trying to level the game, quarterback Montana took a heavy hit and had to go off the field temporarily. Back up Dave Krieg entered the game – and completed 1 pass from 1 attempt for a touchdown to wide receiver J J Birden. Krieg was a brave man to have signed for Kansas City – overcoming the trauma of just over 3 years earlier when he had come to Arrowhead of the Seattle Seahawks and been sacked no fewer than seven times by Derrick Thomas!

Montana was soon back on the field, but it was the Pittsburgh offence that was seeing most of the ball, as they dominated the second quarter with a field goal, and then a late touchdown for wide receiver Ernie Mills. At half time, the Steelers led 17 to 7.

The Chiefs needed to hit back in the second half of the game but got bogged down as the teams traded punts – it was not until late in the third quarter that the team managed to get into field goal range, and veteran Nick Lowery was able to drag the team back to a score behind. With a bit of momentum, the Chiefs then entered the final quarter with a long drive where Montana hit both Birden and also Willie Davis for 20 yard pass completions to set up a short rushing touchdown for Marcus Allen for his 16th touchdown of the season.

Just when it looked like things had turned KC’s way, the Steelers composed themselves and put together another long drive to retake the lead with under 5 minutes left to play, with a 22 yard touchdown pass to tight end Eric Green. Worse still, the Chiefs promptly went 3-and-out to hand the ball straight back. With time running low, tight end Keith Cash – a former Steeler now playing for the Chiefs – made a pivotal play by blocking a punt at the end of the next Pittsburgh drive. The block allowed KC to start their next drive deep inside enemy territory, and a few plays later, Montana completed a 7 yard pass on fourth down, to Tim Barnett to tie the game up once again. This was the only playoff score in Barnett’s short three year career in the NFL. The following year he was released by the team after being jailed for exposing himself to a hotel maid – however the maid later confessed to having falsely accused him in the hope of extorting money from the player in return for dropping the charges.

Despite levelling the game inside the two-minute warning, Kansas City actually got another chance to seal the game inside 60 minutes, as the Steelers went 3-and-out, and the Chiefs managed to get the ball once again into field goal range. This time however, Lowery couldn’t take the chance and at 24-24, the game went into overtime.

The Chiefs had the ball but had to punt… but were off the hook at the Steelers did the same. On their second possession, Joe Montana moved the team downfield by completing five passes in a row, including a deep one to Keith Cash to get into scoring range. From 32 yards out, Nick Lowery made no mistake this time, and after 71 minutes of play, the Chiefs edged a tense game 27-24 to set up a divisional round playoff game against the Houston Oilers the following week.

Fingernails will be bitten down to the bone if this Sunday’s matchup is as close and as dramatic!

Elsewhere in the NFL at the time:

Also in this week’s wild card round, a divisional rivalry game saw the Denver Broncos head to Los Angeles to face the Raiders. John Elway’s Broncos and Jeff Hostetler’s Raiders traded passing touchdowns see the game tied at 21-21 at the half. But Raiders running back Napoleon McCallum went nuts in the second half, rushing in for three touchdowns to secure a Raiders win.

This weekend also saw the birth of crab-leg aficionado, Jameis Winston.

Elsewhere in the world:

It’s a festival of Ice Dancing! In Britain, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean win the British Championship, after a 10 year absence from the sport. While over in American, a hit-man acting on behalf of Tonya Harding attacks rival Nancy Kerrigan with a police baton to the knee.

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