October 26 2003: Kansas City Chiefs 38 – Buffalo Bills 5
Dick Vermeil’s 2003 Chiefs were a fantastic attacking side. By the time the Buffalo Bills came to Arrowhead in week 8, the Chiefs had a 7 & 0 record and had put 40 points past the Texans, the Steelers and the Packers. On the offensive side of the ball, Trent Green, Priest Holmes, Dante Hall, Tony Gonzalez and Tony Richardson were all stars at their positions and would all go to this year’s Pro Bowl.
By contrast, the Drew Bledsoe-led Bills were an average looking side, capable of a result on their day but not seen as favourites in this match up. But home nerves were jangling after a shaky start – the Chiefs went three-and-out on their first drive, then the fourth down punt was blocked back into the end zone for a safety to open the scoring.
Luckily, the team was built to take this in its stride. On KC’s very next drive a Trent Green pass found its way to Dante Hall, who had room to manoeuvre. That was always a deadly position for a defence to find itself in, and Hall evaded tackles in his usual style to weave his way home for a 67 yard score. Danish kicker Morten Andersen added the extra point.
Even better was to come – a Bills missed field goal gave the home team a good starting position, and the Chiefs offensive strategy of lots of passes to Gonzo, and even more rushes by Holmes, worked its magic, with Priest pounding in from close range to stretch the lead. Buffalo then fumbled away the ball in midfield, and the Chiefs gave them more of the same, with the exact same result – Holmes once again rushing home. And after a Bills field goal, Trent Green then focussed exclusively on the aerial game – an 83 yard drive made up of no rushes but 7 completed passes saw Tony Gonzalez grab a short ball in the end zone as time ran out in the half. With extra points added to all three by Andersen, the Chiefs had 21 points in the second quarter and a 28 – 5 lead at the half.
Morten Andersen spent two years with the Chiefs, but that was just a part of a monumental 25 year career in which he scored over 2,500 points in the NFL – recently enshrined in the Hall of Fame, he still holds the all-time league scoring record.
Into the second half, and with a healthy lead already, the KC defence took charge of matters. The 2003 defensive line up wasn’t as stellar as their offensive counterparts, but they kept the Bills in check, intercepting Bledsoe twice in a scoreless third quarter. Then in the fourth quarter, they produced another turnover as defensive back Eric Warfield sacked Bledsoe and forced a fumble. Although only a 7th round draft pick, Warfield managed to carve out a productive 8-year career, all at Arrowhead, in which he pulled in twenty interceptions as well as making five forced fumbles.
The Chiefs offence had been largely asleep since the break, but getting the ball on their opponents’ 15 yard line was a gift – and it took exactly one play for Holmes to rush those 15 yards and seal a third TD of the day.
Priest Holmes was on a golden run for the team at this time. After winning a SuperBowl ring with the Ravens (though he was hardly used in the game, rushing for just 8 yards), he moved to the Chiefs where he set the league alight with an incredible 85 touchdowns in only 66 games for the team. This 2003 season was his highlight, scoring 29 touchdowns in 17 games – with hat-tricks against the Steelers, Lions and Vikings to go with the one today. That was more than enough to see him selected as an All-Pro for the third straight year.
The game was long over as a contest, but there was still just enough time for Andersen to add a late field goal to complete the scoring for the day – a comfortable 38 – 5 win, and the 8 & 0 Chiefs were the only unbeaten team in the league.
Elsewhere in the NFL at the time:
A much tighter game in Cincinnati, with multiple lead changes: it looked like three touchdown passes from Matt Hasselbeck would seal the win for Mike Holmgren’s Seattle Seahawks. But a late 53 yard passing score from Jon Kitna to Chad Johnson a.k.a Chad Ochocinco gave the hosts a 27-24 win and sent Bengals fans home happy.
Elsewhere in the world:
The end of an era – for Concorde, which makes its final commercial flights after 27 years of service. And also for Ian Duncan-Smith, who resigns as leader of the Conservative Party after 2 immediately forgettable years.