November 28 1999: Kansas City Chiefs 37 – Oakland Raiders 34
After a golden 10 years as head coach of the Chiefs (with 9 winning seasons in that time), Marty Schottenheimer had resigned as Chiefs’ head coach after the 1998 season, and was replaced by his well-regarded defensive co-ordinator Gunther Cunningham. Cunningham’s side started the year well, but after a mid-season slump they had dropped back to 5 & 5, and faced a trip to play an Oakland side with an identical record.
Despite the two sides’ fierce rivalry, the game was a bit of a damp squib to begin with. Both sides opened the game with a quick three-and-out followed by a punt – the Raiders managed a field goal after two Rich Gannon incompletions killed a promising drive – and both sides then managed another three-and-out to end the quarter at 3-0 to Oakland.
Things started to move in the second quarter, as Kansas City fed running back Donnell Bennett the ball. Three consecutive rushing plays took the ball close to the Raiders’ line, and fourth play by Bennett from short range gave the Chiefs the opening touchdown, and the lead. After a field goal for each side, ex-Chief Gannon strung together a 77 yard drive which ended with a Rickey Dudley touchdown and a 13-10 half time lead for Oakland.
The second half couldn’t have started much better for KC. Their first drive of the half resulted in a Pete Stoyanovich field goal to tie the game, and then Oakland’s response only lasted three plays before a misplaced Gannon pass was picked off by cornerback Cris Dishman in midfield – Dishman took it back for a touchdown and the Chiefs had the lead once again.
If that was good, what was to follow was very bad indeed…
The Raiders’ next drive started with great field position after a long kick-off return. A short drive was rounded off by Gannon taking the ball home himself to level the scores again at 20-20. Then Chiefs’ QB Elvis Grbac was picked off, and Oakland took it back almost to the goal line – the Raiders only needed a single offensive play to give Dudley his second touchdown of the game. And then with time running out in the quarter, Grbac threw a pass from close to his own line intended for Tony Gonzalez, which was picked off by Charles Woodson and taken back for another Raiders TD. A 20-13 lead midway through the 3rd quarter had become a 20-34 deficit by the end.
Fortunately, the fourth quarter started on a brighter note, as Grbac passed again to Gonzalez – this time with more success as Gonzo took the ball past several Raiders defenders for a 73 yard touchdown. This was Tony Gonzalez’s breakout season – 849 passing yards and 11 touchdowns would see him get the first Pro Bowl selection of his illustrious career.
Toward the middle of the quarter, the Raiders had the ball in their own half and Gannon completed a pass to Derrick Walker. Walker was hit by Chiefs’ safety Jerome Woods, and coughed up the ball. It was scooped up gladly by Cris Dishman, who took it back for the equalising score: a 40 yard fumble return to go with his earlier Pick-6.
After a 10 year career with the Houston Oilers and Washington Redskins (including one Pro Bowl call up with each team), this was Dishman’s one and only season as a Chief. The defender out of Purdue – Len Dawson’s old college – had scored six touchdowns before this date, but never more than one in any season, so scoring two in a single game was a sensation. Dishman has had an interesting coaching career, with roles in the NFL (with the Chargers), college football (with the Baylor Bears) and even in NFL Europe (with the Berlin Thunder).
The score was now level again, and the Raiders took the ball downfield in their next possession, and got in range for a 44-yard field goal to take the lead. The kick was no good! The Chiefs took over, and Grbac sprayed the ball around, to Gonzalez, and also to Derrick Alexander and Andre Rison. They got the ball to the same position that Oakland had reach – a 44 yard field goal try – but Pete Stoyanovich made no mistake, kicking the winning points as time expired. The Chiefs had edged it – and would go on to a solid 9 & 7 record, narrowly missing out on a play-off spot.
Elsewhere in the NFL at the time:
A potent Vikings offence spearheaded by Randy Moss and Cris Carter burned San Diego for 28 points in a single quarter – the Chargers clawed their way back but fell narrowly short, 35 to 38.
Meanwhile, Andy Reid’s Eagles fought back from an early 10 point deficit to take the Redskins to overtime – only to see a Brett Conway field goal give Washington a 20-17 win.
Elsewhere in the world:
England faced Scotland in a playoff, to decide who would qualify for the Euro 2000 soccer tournament. This, added to the fact that the Spice Girls were about to start their “Christmas in Spiceworld” tour, meant that excitement was high right across the country!