Somebody else’s list might look entirely different from this one, and clearly some of the Chiefs’ greatest plays and most memorable moments occurred against teams other than the Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos. But those are the only opponents on this list.
The Vikings? That’s obvious. Super Bowl IV. The Chiefs’ greatest victory produced two touchdowns that most fans can easily recall.
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But others? Starting in the 1990s, the Chiefs’ biggest rival became the Broncos, and quarterback John Elway became the player fans loved to hate. They also feared him, because few in the game’s history were better with the game on the line.
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When the Chiefs defeated the Broncos and Elway, buoyed by two of the team’s greatest plays, the moments were dramatic. Even after Elway moved on, victories over Denver were savored, especially when the winning score was recorded with such flair.
Jan. 11, 1970: 65 Toss Power Trap
The Chiefs had taken a 9-0 lead on Jan Stenerud’s third field goal of Super Bowl IV when they got a huge break. The Vikings’ Charlie West fumbled the ensuing kickoff to Remi Prudhomme, and the Chiefs were in business at the Vikings’ 19 with about 5 1/2 minutes left in the second quarter.
A Len Dawson pass to Otis Taylor moved the ball to the 4, and after Mike Garrett lost 1 yard on first down, the Chiefs jumped offside. The Vikings declined the penalty, making it third and goal from the 5.
At this point, as everybody who has watched NFL Films knows, Hank Stram was dialing up the play that would make him famous.
Oh, Stram would have covered himself in glory by becoming the winning coach of a Super Bowl team as a 13-point underdog. But because a microphone was attached to Stram’s black blazer bearing the Chiefs’ logo — Stram asked for and received $500 for the hook-up — he became an NFL Films legend.
“Hank understood he was a performer as much as a coach,” the late Steve Sabol of NFL Films once said.
Stram grabbed wide receiver Gloster Richardson and sent him into the huddle with instructions.
“Gloster, tell (Dawson), 65 Toss Power Trap. It might pop wide open.”
E.J. Holub snapped the ball to Dawson, who spun toward fullback Robert Holmes, on a path to go wide left. Vikings All-Pro end Jim Marshall, convinced the ball was going that way, took himself out of the play. Right guard Mo Moorman pulled to the left, trapped All-Pro tackle Alan Page and cleared the path for Garrett, who took the handoff. Tight end Fred Arbanas took out middle linebacker Lonnie Warwick and safety Karl Kassulke. Garrett’s path to the end zone was clear.
Jack Buck, the famed baseball announcer who was calling the only Super Bowl of his career, called it for CBS:
“Here’s Garrett slanting in. He ran by (Paul) Dickson, the extra defensive lineman who was over there and went right in from the 5-yard line for the touchdown. And now it’s 15-0 in favor of Kansas City!”
CBS’ camera caught Garrett reaching the sideline, his left hand rubbing Stram’s hairpiece. In the next scene, Stram was adjusting his hair while a pep band plays “Goin’ to Kansas City.”
Jan. 11, 1970: Dawson to Taylor
The most famous play in Chiefs history showed Stram’s ingenuity. The Chiefs’ second touchdown in Super Bowl IV showed their dominance and strength.
Dawson completed a short pass to Otis Taylor on the sideline, and Taylor ran through Earsell Mackbee’s tackle, juked Karl Kassukle at the 20 and glided into the end zone for a 46-yard touchdown that clinched the game. The Vikings were demoralized, and the Chiefs were football’s champions.
Oct. 17, 1994: Monday Night Miracle
Denver’s Mile High Stadium was a house of horrors for the Chiefs, who had lost 11 straight there. And after John Elway had put the Broncos ahead 28-24 with 82 seconds remaining, the Chiefs appeared headed for an even dozen, this one on “Monday Night Football,” no less.
But Joe Montana had other ideas. From the Chiefs’ 25, he marched them downfield with underneath passes, and with 13 seconds remaining they had reached the 5. Montana looked over the middle, then to the right, where he saw wide receiver Willie Davis headed toward the pylon. Davis reached high, snared the ball and tip-toed through the corner of the end zone for the touchdown and a 31-28 Chiefs triumph.
After the game, defensive end Neil Smith handed the game ball to coach Marty Schottenheimer. The was perhaps Montana’s finest moment as a Chief.
Nov. 16, 1997: “Pete Stoyanovich for President”
John Elway was at it again, rallying the Broncos from a two-point deficit and putting Denver in position for Jason Elam to boot a 34-yard field goal with 1 minute remaining at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs trailed 22-21 when Rich Gannon hit Andre Rison at the sideline and the clock stopped with 4 seconds remaining. On came kicker Pete Stoyanovich, who faced a slight wind on a cold day, for a 54-yard field-goal attempt.
The low line drive had just enough distance and was on target.
Stoyanovich left the field on a shoulder ride following a 24-22 victory.
Stoyanovich said he was making kicks from 53 yards in pregame, but no longer.
“That was a long kick in this weather,” Stoyanovich said.
Oct. 5, 2003: Hall-elujah
Dante Hall had returned three kicks or punts for touchdowns already in 2003. His fourth, which set an NFL record for returns in consecutive games, defied description.
Against the Broncos, Hall — “The Human Joystick” — took the punt at the 7, went left, pivoted right, reversed his field and wound up back at the 2. But he saw daylight on the left side and, with the help of a punt-return wall, raced to the end zone.
The play won the game for the Chiefs, 24-23, and earned Hall a spot on the David Letterman Show.