The Chiefs lit the fuse for the greatest period in Kansas City sports history the last time they faced the New England Patriots.
One night before the Royals would play an epic wild-card playoff game against the Oakland Athletics, the Chiefs whipped New England 41-14 on Sept. 29, 2014 on “Monday Night Football” at Arrowhead Stadium.
During the second half of the game, many in the crowd of 76,613 fans chanted “Let’s Go Royals!” and the Chiefs readily admitted they were inspired by their Truman Sports Complex neighbors, including starting pitcher James Shields, who was among a group of Royals at the game.
The Royals went on to mount a 9-8 come-from-behind victory over the Athletics, propelling Kansas City to consecutive World Series appearances, capped by a championship in 2015.
Though the Chiefs would finish the season 9-7 and miss the postseason by one game, they took a cue from the Royals and went 11-5 this year and qualified for the AFC playoffs. That marked the first time in a history dating to 1963 that Kansas City’s NFL and major-league baseball teams reached the playoffs in the same year.
The Chiefs beat Houston 30-0 in last week’s AFC Wild Card Game, setting up a rematch with New England in a divisional round playoff game on Saturday in Foxborough, Mass. It is at 3:35 p.m. on CBS (Chs. 5, 13).
“It’s one of the most special games I ever remember at Arrowhead,” a beaming Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said after the 2014 New England game. “What can be better than beating the New England Patriots on ‘Monday Night Football’ and beating them very decisively, to kick off a week like this?
“ ‘Monday Night’ is always electric … the team’s performance was off the charts, and the fans came to play as well.”
Indeed, the decibel record at Arrowhead was measured at 142.2, topping the previous record of 137.5 as determined by the Guinness Book of World Records.
“They not only broke the noise record,” Hunt said, “They crushed it.”
The same can be said about the way the Chiefs destroyed New England. They forced superstar quarterback Tom Brady to the bench in the fourth quarter and handed the Patriots their second-worst loss by a team coached by future Hall of Famer Bill Belichick.
The loss to the Chiefs proved to be a defining moment in the Patriots season that would culminate with a fourth Super Bowl title.
The defeat dropped New England to 2-2 and panic set in Patriot Nation, prompting some to wonder if Brady should be replaced by Jimmy Garoppolo, who finished the Chiefs game after Brady threw for just 159 yards and two interceptions.
Belichick’s standard response to questions in the aftermath of the game was: “We’re on to Cincinnati.”
Sure enough, the Patriots destroyed unbeaten Cincinnati 43-17, the start of a seven-game winning streak on the way to the Super Bowl.
“The turning point for me in the season was in the season was halftime of the Kansas City game,” Belichick said. “As much as that was a tough night for us … I challenged the team at halftime, they responded, and in the end, a key moment for our football team.”
The Chiefs jumped to a 27-0 halftime lead as running back Jamaal Charles, who missed most of the previous two games because of a sprained ankle, made a dazzling return, catching two touchdown passes and running for another.
Charles, who rushed for 92 yards, was topped by understudy Knile Davis, who rambled for 107 — his second straight 100-yard-plus performance. The Chiefs’ 303 yards in the first half were the most given up in a half by a Belichick-coached team.
The Chiefs’ defense created the team’s first three takeaways of the season — a strip sack and forced fumble by Tamba Hali of Brady and interceptions by Sean Smith and Husain Abdullah, who returned his 39 yards for a touchdown.
“I know we’ve all studied it,” Brady said, reflecting on last year’s game. “They played really well that night. We didn’t play very well. Hopefully we can flip the script. That’ll be the opportunity we have, so it’s going to take a great effort. They have a lot of good players, great front, great group of linebackers, as well as any team we’ve faced in the secondary, so they’re good at all levels. They’ve got a good scheme.
“They put a lot of pressure on you and if you don’t handle it, then they take advantage of it.”
The Patriots tried making a game of it in the second half, but Belichick pulled Brady after Abdullah’s interception made it 41-7 with 10:34 to play.
“Last year was last year,” Abdullah said this week. “They went on to win the Super Bowl, and we didn’t make the playoffs. We just want to focus on this week and want to make them earn everything.”