October 21 1999: Kansas City Chiefs 35 – Baltimore Ravens 8
Thursday Night Football in week 6 of the 1999 season saw Gunther Cunningham’s Chiefs head to Baltimore, looking to build on a solid 3-2 start to the campaign.
However, they were anything but solid in the opening quarter, as all three KC drives went three-and-out, for a grand total of zero yards! The final play of the first quarter was an Elvis Grbac completion which gave the Chiefs their first first down of the game. Fortunately, the Ravens were doing little better – their first drive ended in an interception, and their next in a missed field goal.
Things improved slightly in the second quarter, as Grbac drove the team downfield with an 11-play drive which was rounded off with a pass that found tight end Tony Gonzalez for the game’s opening score.
Like Joe Montana before him and Alex Smith more recently, Grbac was a 49ers QB, who moved to take over the starting job in Kansas City when he fell out of favour in San Francisco. He had a winning record (26-21) over his four years with the Chiefs, before heading to Baltimore to finish his career with the Ravens. He was also selected by People magazine as 1998’s “Sexiest Man Alive” – it turned out that the journalist in question had confused him with another player but didn’t have the heart to correct it when the mistake was spotted!
Viewers hoping the game would now spark into life were disappointed – the rest of the quarter saw the Chiefs go three-and-out a further three times. And again, the Ravens were no better, meaning the sides ended the half with the score at a fairly lifeless 7-0 to Kansas City.
10 minutes into the second half of the game, the score was still the same. But finally, we saw the play that opened the floodgates – Ravens quarterback Stoney Case’s attempted short pass in midfield was picked off by cornerback James Hasty, who took it back all the way to double the Chiefs’ advantage. Hasty pulled in 21 picks in his spell playing for KC – 7 of them were this season, which tied for the best record in the league, and saw him selected to the Pro Bowl alongside Gonzalez. The next Chiefs possession then saw them grind the ball upfield using running back Bam Morris, before Grbac found Tony Gonzalez from 22 yards out for his second touchdown of the game.
Having gone from 0-7 to 0-21 in the blink of an eye, the Ravens were now in a panic. When their next drive stalled, they went for it on 4th down, but Case once again saw his pass intercepted. Donnie Edwards made the pick – but he then completely wrong-footed the Ravens by making a lateral pass to his defensive colleague Reggie Tongue, who was able to run in the score from midfield. Tongue, who was a Baltimore native, had never scored an NFL touchdown before – but having got this one, he went on to get a second the very next week, with a fumble return against the Chargers!
The Ravens benched their quarterback at this point. With the backup in, they leant more on the running game, and finally got on the scoreboard when Errict Rhett ran in on a short rush. However, with a big deficit, they then tried, and failed, to make an onside kick. To run down the clock, the Chiefs also turned to the run, and Bam Morris rushed the ball on three consecutive plays, the last one for a short touchdown.
Baltimore had the ball one more time, but the clock expired before they could make any use of it. After 7 points in the first 40 minutes of the game, the final 20 had seen five touchdowns and 36 points – and the Chiefs headed home with a comfortable win!
Elsewhere in the NFL at the time:
A San Francisco team led by Jeff Garcia and Jerry Rice had reasonable hopes of a win in Minnesota – even more so when they took a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter. But they were then blown away by an all round Vikings performance: Jeff George threw TD passes to three different players, Leroy Hoard rushed for 100 yards and another score, and the defence chipped in with 2 sacks, 2 picks, and a safety. The Vikings sent the home fans away happy, after an eye-catching 40-16 win.
Elsewhere in the world:
Earlier this month work began to fit the London Eye – now one of the capital’s best known landmarks – into place on the banks of the Thames.