Blast From The Past – Week 11

September 10 1995: Kansas City Chiefs 20 – New York Giants 17

From 1990 to 1994, the Chiefs had reached the post-season five consecutive times under coach Marty Schottenheimer. 1995 got off to another promising start with a comfortable win against divisional rivals the Seattle Seahawks, so hopes were high when the Giants came to Arrowhead for a week 2 game.

However, it took less than 3 minutes for the Giants to remind us that they would be no pushover – marching 75 yards downfield on the opening drive in only 5 plays, with quarterback Dave Brown rounding it off with a touchdown pass to Chris Calloway.

The New York defence were proving to be solid too. In five first half drives, Steve Bono’s offence could not get things moving, managing only a solitary Lin Elliott field goal. At least KC’s defence was able to match up with our opponents – thanks to sacks from Derrick Thomas and Darren Mickell, the G-Men were also restricted to a field goal, meaning that a hard fought first half ended with the Chiefs behind only 10 to 3.

Anyone expecting the deadlock to be broken after the break was disappointed! A Chiefs punt was followed by a Giants punt. And then another Chiefs punt was followed by a Giants punt. On KC’s third possession of the quarter, an offensive drive finally broke out: over the last 5 minutes of the third quarter, and the first 5 minutes of the fourth quarter, Kansas City inched their way downfield over the course of 17 plays, most of them short Marcus Allen rushes, almost to the NY goal line.

With a much-needed score in sight, Bono was sacked, fumbled the ball, and it was picked up by 290 pound defensive end Keith Hamilton. Hamilton somehow hustled his way over 80 yards – he was tackled just short of the Chiefs goal line, at which point he then also fumbled the ball, and his Giants colleague Tito Wooten was first to pounce to score a double fumble recovery touchdown.

A two score deficit was somehow Bono’s cue to suddenly find his passing form – the Chiefs’ next possession saw him slice through the Giants with eight consecutive completed passes, to six different receivers. From 1 yard out, Marcus Allen took hit home to bring the deficit back to 17-10.

Although time was getting short, the Chiefs’ defence was able to hold New York to a 3-and-out, sealed by another Derrick Thomas sack. In front of a rocking Arrowhead crowd, Bono was now on fire, leading another long drive that included 9 pass completions. Two of these were fourth down passes to keep the play alive; and the final pass of the drive was a short one to wide receiver Danan Hughes, whose 3 yard score levelled the game.

Hughes had been a seventh round draft pick for the Chiefs in 1993, and like many late round players had sealed his spot in the squad with special teams play, making many kick and punt returns over his first two seasons. He was a hard-working and well-liked player, selected by his colleagues to be a team captain for multiple seasons, who had worked his way into the offence’s wide receiver group – and this was his first ever professional touchdown. Over his 6 year career, spent entirely as a Chief, he didn’t score many times, but they were usually crucial: he scored in consecutive seasons against Denver, in close games won by 2 and 3 points. And he also hauled in a score in a narrow win over the Steelers: from a pass made by none other than Marcus Allen!

At 17-17, the game went to overtime, and both sides failed with their first possessions. Regaining the ball at midfield after a short punt, Kansas City then moved into field goal range… only for running back Greg Hill to fumble the ball. Luckily, his team-mate Keith Cash was first to the ball, and on the next play Lin Elliott scored the game winning field goal.

I think every Chiefs fan is aware of the meltdown that Elliott suffered in that season’s playoff loss to the Colts, but at this point he looked every inch the reliable kicker. Signed from the Cowboys, for whom he’d kicked 8 from 8 in their crushing SuperBowl 42 win over Buffalo, he’d opened the season in fine form. 4 successful kicks today ensured the 20-17 win, and gave no hint of what was to follow!

Elsewhere in the NFL at the time:

Throwing away a clear lead and losing in overtime was very much in fashion in New York, as the Jets did the exact same thing!

Leading 24-3 and seemingly cruising, Boomer Esiason’s Jets were pulled back by the Colts. Jim Harbaugh made a touchdown pass to Marshall Faulk right at the death to make the score 24-24, and Indianapolis then got a field goal in overtime to snatch the win in front of a disbelieving crowd at the Meadowlands.

Elsewhere in the world:

Challenger Frank Bruno defeats Oliver McCall, to finally become world heavyweight boxing champion – although he would then lose the title to Mike Tyson in his next fight.

Meanwhile in the US, e-Bay was founded as a small online start-up: the first item sold was a broken laser pointer.

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