September 30 2007: Kansas City Chiefs 30 – San Diego Chargers 16
After opening the season with a pair of road losses, the Chiefs had belatedly got 2007 up and running by defeating the Vikings in week 3. They then travelled to San Diego, hoping to keep up their revival against a Chargers side which had the same 1 and 2 record.
The first half of the game was largely a kicking contest: Nate Kaeding hit 3 out of 3 for San Diego, while Dave Rayner (a journeyman kicker who played for eight different NFL teams) had made both of his for the Chiefs. What separated the sides was the only touchdown of the half – a long completion by Philip Rivers to Vincent Jackson had put the Chargers close to the goal line, and inevitably San Diego’s star man, newly enshrined Hall-of-Famer LaDainian Tomlinson had ferried the ball home from a few yards out. The hosts and favourites led 16-6 at the break.
Whatever Herm Edwards told his troops at half time must have been powerful stuff, though – as KC came out and dominated the 3rd quarter to turn the game on its head. After both sides punted their opening possessions of the half, the Chiefs scored on all of their three subsequent drives while stopping San Diego from putting a point on the board.
First up, a couple of Dwayne Bowe receptions from quarterback Damon Huard allowed the Chiefs to get downfield, and Rayner’s third successful field goal kick from three attempts closed the gap.
Then Kansas City got the ball back very quickly thanks to a Derrick Johnson interception of a short Philip Rivers pass attempt. Three plays later, the Chiefs had their first touchdown – and levelled the score – thanks to a 22 yard pass from Huard to tight end Tony Gonzalez.
And then the Chiefs defence held San Diego to a three-and-out, allowing the offence to take over once more. A short pass from Huard to Dwayne Bowe on 3rd and 19 saw the wide receiver break a tackle, find a gap, and head down field for a 50 yard score. A 16-6 deficit at the half had become a 23-16 lead early in the 4th quarter.
After going undrafted, Damon Huard had only started a handful of games across 8 years as a back up QB for the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. Picked up by Kansas City as a back up in 2004, he hadn’t made a single pass in either the 2004 or 2005 seasons Finally getting his chance in 2006 when Trent Green was out injured, he won acclaim as a game manager in a #11 jersey, playing safe, solid football with very few turnovers (remind you of anyone?!).
Huard was rewarded with the starting job in 2007, and was solid but unspectacular as he took the team to a 4 & 5 record. After an injury, he struggled to hold onto the top QB spot, being edged out first by Brodie Croyle and then by Tyler Thigpen, before finally retiring at the start of the 2009 season.
Behind in the game for the first time, the Chargers pushed into KC territory looking to strike back. However this plan was derailed by Derrick Johnson – his sack of Rivers forced a fumble which was scooped up Tyron Brackenridge at midfield and taken all the way back for a touchdown to stretch the Chiefs’ lead.
Undrafted defensive back Brackenridge was an unlikely scorer – this in fact was the only score of his four year NFL career (which took in spells with the Jets and Jags, as well as two seasons spent at Arrowhead). He ended up playing in the CFL, where he won a Grey Cup and a couple of all-star selections as a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
With one last chance, San Diego drove down field again and got within 10 yards of the Chiefs end zone, but the defence held firm and the Chargers lost the ball on downs – five consecutive rushes from Larry Johnson were enough to run down the clock and seal a great win over a divisional rival.
Elsewhere in the NFL at the time:
A slow burner at Ford Field exploded late on, into an instant classic.
The Chicago Bears held a 13-3 lead after three quarters of the game, but then the final quarter saw an insane 48 points scored! A 97-yard kick-off return was the highlight for the Bears, but the Lions thrilled their home fans with 5 touchdowns to completely turn the game around. There were two passing TDs, a rushing TD and a pick-six – and then when the Bears attempted a desperate onside kick late in the game, Casey Fitzsimmons got there first and took it home to seal a 37-27 win.
Elsewhere in the world:
The day before the game we lost actress Lois Maxwell – Miss Moneypenny in the first 14 James Bond films