January 3 2010: Kansas City Chiefs 44 – Denver Broncos 24
A week 17 game away in Denver, with nothing on the line? Sounds familiar, we did the same thing eight seasons ago. Back then the reason it meant nothing was that the disappointing Broncos and Chiefs were way behind the soaring San Diego Chargers, who had already wrapped up the AFC West title…
Despite the game meaning nothing in the greater scheme of things, two of the biggest KC stars of recent years put on a show that meant this game would live long in the memory. Both were born in Texas, and both played their college football for the Texas Longhorns. But both were drafted by the Chiefs and have set records for the franchise – Jamaal Charles and Derrick Johnson.
That was all to come later though. The game started with an oddity, as the only score of the first quarter was a touchdown for the Chiefs by fullback Mike Cox, the only score in his whole 56 game NFL career. The Broncos drew level through a Knowshon Moreno touchdown, and then the teams traded field goals, to give a half time score of 10-10.
Two signs of things to come: the Kansas City defence was putting a lot of push rushing pressure onto Denver QB (and later, briefly, Chiefs QB) Kyle Orton. And although he hadn’t scored, Jamaal Charles was cutting through Broncos tackles and had racked up over 100 yards rushing in the first half. This continued right from the start of the third quarter, as, on the opening drive, Charles ran the ball six times. The last of these was a five yard scoring run, finding space on the left to put the Chiefs back ahead.
Denver scored next – again through Moreno – to tie things up, and then a Ryan Succop field goal gave the Chiefs the lead once more. After we kicked the ball back to the home team, Kyle Orton’s first play of the next drive was an attempt to force the ball downfield which was read and picked off by Derrick Johnson in midfield. Johnson returned the interception 45 yards for his first ever score. An Orton pass to veteran receiver Brandon Stokley brought the Broncos back close, but KC still held a 27 to 24 advantage entering the last quarter.
A Charles 30 yard run gave the Chiefs good field position, allowing Succop to stretch the lead with another field goal. The Broncos then drove
into Kansas City territory, only for Orton to put a short pass straight into the waiting hands of Derrick Johnson, who eclipsed his first effort by taking the ball home from 60 yards out. After waiting almost 5 years to score a touchdown in the NFL, the line-backer had to wait just over half an hour for his second score!
With a 13 point lead, the Chiefs were looking fairly safe – but the final nail in the Denver coffin was hammered shut in the very next Kansas City drive. Matt Cassel handed off to Jamaal Charles in his own half on a 2nd down and 4, and the running back burst through a gap in the middle before dodging tackles to get a 56 yard score. This last play took him to an incredible 259 rushing yards on the night. This is the eighth most rushing yards in a game by any player in the history of the NFL (and no player has gone beyond that total in the eight years since Charles’s epic game).
44-24 to KC – and although the season had been a disappointment overall, the talent on display in this game was an indication of what the team could achieve – this was shown the very next year as the Chiefs went from last to first in the division.
Elsewhere in the NFL at the time:
In New York, the Jets destroyed the Cincinnati Bengals 37-0 to wrap up a winning season. The Jets only had 63 yards of passing from QB Mark Sanchez, but fortunately for them the running game was on form, as four rushing touchdowns (including two from Thomas Jones who moved to KC in the offseason) saw them win comfortably.
For the Bengals, Carson Palmer’s stat line of 1 completion from 11 attempts, for zero yards and a pick, was a disappointing day at the office!
The two teams met again a week later in the Wild Card Weekend, with the Jets winning once again.
Elsewhere in the world:
While Britain froze under a pile of snow, sunny Dubai was busy opening the Burj Khalifa tower, then – and still now – the tallest building in the world.