October 2 1983: Kansas City Chiefs 38 – St Louis Cardinals 14
We’re used to the Cardinals playing in sunny Glendale, Arizona – but until 1987, they were our in-state rivals, based in St Louis, Missouri. October 1983 saw the Cardinals making the short trip along the I70 to Arrowhead.
Neither team had started the season well. This was a meeting of two 1 & 3 sides, needing a win to kick start their season. First blood went to St Louis, after a Chiefs fumble was scooped up and taken home for an early 7-0 lead. But from that point, Kansas City turned on the style, and dominated the game on both sides of the ball.
Later in the first half, the Chiefs replied with a like-for-like score. A Cardinals fumble was recovered by line-backer Charles Jackson, who returned it 37 yards for the equalizing score. This was the only score of his 7 year, 117 game career as a Chief. And then the go-ahead score came from a more likely source, as quarterback Bill Kenney led a drive that finished with a 10 yard pass to wide receiver Henry Marshall. Marshall spent the whole of his 12 year NFL career with Kansas City, scoring 35 touchdowns, and when he retired he was the Chiefs’ all-time leader in receptions (with a record that was eventually broken by Tony Gonzalez).
After the break, the hosts stretched their lead to 17-7 with a Nick Lowery field goal. Next up, running back Billy Jackson rushed home for a touchdown. Jackson had defied all expectations in 1981 when, as a 7th round draft pick, he scored 11 touchdowns as a rookie. The touchdowns dried up though, and this was one of only 7 further touchdowns he scored in the rest of his professional career.
The Cardinals couldn’t stop the Chiefs scoring, and they were also doing a terrible job themselves in offence. The quarterbacks (Jim Hart and Rusty Lisch) scored no passing touchdowns, and were picked off a combined total of 5 times on the day. Leading the way in the KC backfield was Deron Cherry, with 2 picks. Cherry had been undrafted as a rookie, but after winning a spot on the Chiefs roster as a free safety, he proceeded to haul in 50 interceptions over a 10 years career. He had 7 interceptions in this 1983 season, the first of six consecutive years in which he was selected to the Pro Bowl.
With the Chiefs dominating possession, the next man up to score was running back Theotis Brown. Brown had been drafted by the Cardinals and spent 3 years in St Louis – but his most successful spell as a player was when he moved to Arrowhead. In 26 games over 2 seasons, he racked up 1,500 yards from scrimmage, and scored 14 touchdowns in the process.
At 31-7 in the fourth quarter, the game was over, and so coach John Mackovic replaced Bill Kenney under centre with rookie QB Todd Blackledge, for his first ever NFL action. Blackledge had been picked with the seventh overall pick, and hopes were high that he would become the team’s new franchise quarterback (spoiler: he didn’t). Given his first chance, he completed 4 of 5 passes, rounding off with a touchdown pass to tight end Willie Scott, the fifth different touchdown scorer on the day for the Chiefs.
After dominating for over three quarters, the defence relaxed enough to allow a late consolation score for the visitors, but Chiefs fans went home happy with a 38-14 win, and revived hopes for the season.
Elsewhere in the NFL at the time:
In Washington DC, the Raiders lost a high scoring thriller (what a shame). After an early touchdown run by John Riggins for the Redskins, a Jim Plunkett passing master-class took the LA Raiders to a 35-20 lead. But two Joe Theismann touchdown passes in the final quarter – the last one to the appropriately named Joe Washington – snatched a 37-35 win.
Elsewhere in the world:
Richard Noble sets a new land speed record of 634 miles per hour, in his jet-powered car Thrust 2.
In probably unrelated news, one day earlier, the world’s first Hooters restaurant opened.