December 25 2004: Kansas City Chiefs 31 – Oakland Raiders 30
A Christmas Day matchup between the Chiefs, and their bitter rivals the Raiders, saw little to play for but pride.
The Chiefs, committed to the passing game with a high quality quarterback, was one of the top offences in the league – but had one of the worst defences. Sound familiar? But by this week 16 game, they were out of contention with a 6-8 record, and faced a Raiders team whose season was also over, at 5-9. Luckily, this matters little when these old foes go head to head: and this game saw them trade blows from the start.
On the Chiefs’ opening drive, QB Trent Green saw his first pass of the day picked off. Three plays later, the Raiders led 7-0. The second drive took KC into field goal range, but kicker Laurence Tynes missed from 43 yards. And on the third drive, Green completed passes to Eddie Kennison, Tony Gonzalez and Samie Parker, before Larry Johnson capped the drive with a 6 yard rushing touchdown. 7-7 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Raiders started a drive with good field position after a useful kick-off return, and managed to engineer a short range touchdown. But the Chiefs replied with a mirror image on the very next drive: Dante Hall’s kick-off return gave KC a start in Raiders territory, and a well-engineered drive set up Green to tie the game up again with a short pass to Tony Gonzalez. 14-14.
The hosts then took the lead for the first time in the game. In a typical drive for this pass-happy season, a 10-play drive featuring 9 passing plays and only a single two yard rush, saw the Trent Green to Tony Gonzalez connection strike again.
This season saw Gonzo haul in 102 receptions (leading the league). He was selected to the Pro Bowl for the sixth consecutive time (eventually reaching 14 Pro Bowl selections in 15 seasons). He was recently inducted into the Chiefs Ring of Honour – and a Pro Football Hall of Fame gold jacket will follow shortly.
Although the Raiders got the ball back with under 2 minutes on the clock, they still had time to score again – Kerry Collins’ second touchdown pass of the game made the score 21-21 at the break.
After an exchange of punts, a Sebastian Janikowski field goal got the scoreboard moving again after the break – but the Chiefs would retake the lead yet again after a string of Trent Green passes brought the team to the 4 yard line, and Larry Johnson scored his second touchdown of the game. Janikowski scored another field goal, to bring the score to 28-27 in favour of Kansas City – but the Chiefs now had the ball, and the lead, and the clock on their side.
But disaster struck – with under 2 minutes in the game, the Raiders sacked Green, forcing a fumble and a crucial turnover. As the Raiders now drove into field goal range, the Chiefs were forced to burn all 3 timeouts in quick succession to keep some time on the clock. Janikowski kicked his third field goal of the half to make it 30-28 to Oakland with a minute left.
The kick-off went to the ‘Human Joystick’, Dante Hall. That proved to be a bad move for the Raiders, as he took the ball back 49 yards to put KC immediately in Raiders territory. Three short plays moved the ball ever closer, and kicker Lawrence Tynes had a 38-yard kick to win the game.
Tynes, born in Scotland, had played for the Scottish Claymores and Ottawa Renegades, before making his belated NFL debut at the age of 26 earlier this season. He would go on to win two SuperBowl rings with the Giants later in his career, but most importantly for now, he made the kick – and secured a dramatic 31-30 win for the Chiefs. What a present for the fans of the Chiefs Kingdom!
Elsewhere in the NFL at the time:
Boxing Day saw another high scoring thriller in Indianapolis. The visiting Chargers raced into a 24-9 lead off the back of three touchdown passes from star QB Drew Brees – and when LaDainian Tomlinson then rushed home to give San Diego a 31-16 advantage early in the fourth quarter, the job appeared to be done.
However an 88 yard kick-off return touchdown, followed by an 80 yard Peyton Manning drive, tied the scores up – and then Indy wrapped up the game in overtime with a field goal for a 34-31 home win.
Elsewhere in the world:
While the Raiders game was taking place, a massive earthquake on the other side of the world caused a series of devastating tsunamis across a wide area of Indian Ocean coast. This caused over 200,000 deaths, and is one of the largest natural disasters in recorded history.