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NFL Classic Rewind: Raiders Deny Chiefs AFC West Title

Posted on October 20, 2011 by A.J. Foss

The final game of the 1999 regular season did not mean a whole lot to the Oakland Raiders, but meant everything for the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs entered the game with a 9-6 record and needed to defeat the Raiders plus have the Seattle Seahawks lose to win the AFC West title (The Seahawks owned the tiebreaker because they won both of their meetings with the Chiefs).

Even though a loss to the Raiders would keep them out of the playoffs, the Chiefs had to be very confident as they had lost to Oakland twice during the entire decade of the 1990s and had not lost to the Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium since 1988.

Kansas City was under first-year head coach Gunther Cunningham, who had replaced Marty Schottenheimmer after a decade in which he led the Chiefs to nine playoff appearances, and quarterback Elvis Grbac.

Grbac had spent the previous two seasons in Kansas City in a quarterback controversy with backup Rich Gannon, as Gannon had filled in nicely for the starter and won 10 of his 16 starts during the 1997 and 1998 seasons.

After the 1998 season, Gannon left the Chiefs and signed as a free agent with the arch rival Raiders, where he was named the starting quarterback for head coach Jon Gruden who was entering his second season as the Raiders’ head coach.

Oakland entered the game at 7-8 and were eliminated from playoff contention, but a victory of the hated Chiefs to prevent them from moving on to the postseason, would make the season for the Raiders.

It appeared that the game was going to be a runaway victory for the Chiefs as they jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first 7:30 of the game.

The Raiders were forced to punt on their opening possession and Tamarick Vanover received the punt at his own 16-yard-line and returned it for the 84-yard touchdown to put Kansas City on the board.

Then on the third play of the next Raiders offensive drive, Gannon was intercepted by James Hasty, who returned the pick 34 yards for another touchdown and a 14-0 lead before the Kansas City offense had touched the ball.

The Chiefs forced another punt and then drove down for a 33-yard field goal by Pete Stoyanovich for the 17-0 lead.

Just when it looked like the game was going to get out of hand, the Raiders made a big play on special teams that turned the tide of the game.

Tony Gonzalez caught a touchdown pass in the Chiefs' 41-38 overtime defeat to the Raiders.

Late in the first quarter, Chiefs punter Daniel Pope had his punt blocked by Marquis Walker and when Kenny Shedd picked up the loose ball and returned it for a 20-yard touchdown, the Raiders had cut the lead to 17-7.

The Raiders carried the momentum of the blocked punt into the second quarter as Gannon fired two touchdown passes, first to Zack Crockett for 12 yards, then Napoleon Kaufman for 22 yards, to put Oakland ahead 21-17 with 4:09 left in the second quarter.

After the Raiders’ 21 straight points, the Chiefs drove down for the go-ahead touchdown; a 7-yard touchdown pass from Grbac to Gonzalez put Kansas City back on top at 24-21 with about a minute to play in the first half.

However the Chiefs did not last long as Joe Baker kicked the ensuing kickoff out of bounds, giving the Raiders great field position as they took over from their own 40-yard-line.

This lead to Gannon’s third touchdown pass of the quarter, a 23-yarder to running back Tyrone Wheatley, to give the Raiders a 28-24 lead at halftime.

The offensive fireworks continued in the third quarter as the Chiefs drove 98 yards in 13 plays, 10 of those plays being runs for a total of 83 yards, with the other 15 yards coming on the touchdown pass from Grbac to Joe Horn to give the Chiefs a 31-28 lead.

It only took two plays for the Raiders to assume the lead again as Gannon connected with Tim Brown for a 42-yard gain, then handed it off to Wheatley who broke several tackles for a 26-yard touchdown and a 35-31 lead.

The score remained at 35-31 until the fourth quarter when the lead changed for the sixth time in the game as Grbac hit rookie wide receiver Kevin Lockett for a 39-yard touchdown and the lead once again at 38-35.

After an exchange of punts, the Raiders got the ball at their own 40-yard-line with 2:46 left in regulation and needing only a field goal to send the game into overtime.

The Raiders crossed midfield but the drive stalled and suddenly they were faced with a 4th-and-12 at the Kansas City 47-yard-line and 1:39 remaining.

One more defensive stop and the Chiefs could run out the clock and advance into the playoffs.

But the Raiders were able to extend the game as Gannon connected with Brown for a 20-yard gain and a 1st down at the Chiefs’ 27-yard-line.

Oakland got eight more yards until Gruden called on the field goal unit to come on attempt the game-tying field goal.

Rich Gannon's return to Kansas City was especially sweet as he helped the Raiders keep his former team from making the playoffs.

Joe Nedney made the 38-yard field goal and the game was tied at 38-38 with 45 seconds left in regulation.

The Chiefs got one last chance to win the game in regulation as Grbac drove the Kansas City offense from their own 30-yard-line to the Raiders’ 27-yard-line and have Stoyanvich come on do what he did to the Raiders in Week 12, kick a game-winning field goal as time expired for a Chiefs victory over the Raiders.

But this time Stoyanvich did not deliver as his 44-yard field goal hooked to the left side and the game went into overtime.

The Raiders won the coin toss and elected to play offense, then caught a break on the kickoff when Baker kicked the ball out of bounds for the third time in the game.

Once again, Oakland took advantage of the short field as Gannon connected with tight end Rickey Dudley for 21 yards and Brown for another 24 yards, to lead the Raiders to the Kansas City 15-yard-line and set up Nedney’s game-winning field goal attempt.

And when Nedney’s 33-yard field goal sailed through the uprights 3:13 into the extra period, the Raiders had defeated the Chiefs 41-38 to prevent Kansas City from winning the AFC West title.

One month later, the Chiefs were deal with a much more heartbreaking loss as all-Pro linebacker Derrick Thomas died from injuries sustained in a car accident.

Thomas’s death hovered over the Chiefs like a black cloud for the 2000 season as Kansas City finished with a 7-9 record for only the second losing season for the franchise since 1988.

After the season, Cunningham was fired as head coach and Grbac was released by the team.

As for the Raiders, the win over the Chiefs helped start a three-year run from 2000 through 2002 where Oakland complied a 33-15 regular season record, three straight AFC West titles, two appearances in the AFC Championship Game, and a trip to Super Bowl XXXVII.

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