January 2, 2000
|WR Kenny Shedd picks up the blocked punt and rushes it in for a touchdown to spark the Raiders comeback.|
To say that the chips were stacked against the Oakland Raiders on January 2, 2000, would be a gross understatement. A loss to the San Diego Chargers, coupled with a Buffalo Bills victory, the week before eliminated the Raiders from playoff contention. Both starting offensive tackles, Mo Collins and Lincoln Kennedy were injured and could not play. Chiefs QB Elvis Grbac had a perfect 5-0 record against the Raiders, and 80,000 screaming Chiefs fans were hungry for another Kansas City victory over their arch rivals.
To make matters worse, a Kansas City victory would secure the AFC West division title for the Chiefs and first year head coach (and former Raiders defensive coordinator) Gunther Cunningham. The Chiefs had run roughshod over the Raiders for the better part of a decade. Kansas City had stolen a 37-34 victory at Network Associates Coliseum back in Week 12 of the 1999-2000 regular season. But, the Raiders were bound and determined to start the new millenium off properly and put the Chiefs back in their place.
Oakland got off to a disastrous start in the first quarter. Chiefs WR Tamarick Vanover returned a Leo Araguz punt 84 yards for a touchdown. On the Raiders next possession, QB Rich Gannon was intercepted by Chiefs S James Hasty who returned the pick 34 yards for another Chiefs score. A Pete Stoyanovich 33-yard field goal put the Chiefs up 17-0 with 7:31 left in the first quarter.
“We talked all week about getting off to a good start, not doing anything foolish, not turning the ball over, not giving them any quick scoring opportunities,” QB Rich Gannon explained. “Unfortunately, we did just that. We went three-and-out on the first series and ended up punting the football. Tamarick Vanover returns it for a touchdown. The next series we go out, we throw an interception and it gets returned by James Hasty for a touchdown. Now we’re down 14-nothing. We go out on our third series and give the ball back. They drive down and get a field goal and we’re down 17-0 and I don’t believe there’s five minutes gone in the game,” Gannon recalled, “The place is going crazy. We did everything we talked about not doing.”
Trailing 17-0, the stage was set for a dramatic Raiders comeback.
With 2:49 left in the first quarter, CB Marquis Walker broke through the Chiefs line and blocked a punt. WR and special teams standout Kenny Shedd scooped up the loose ball and raced 20 yards for the Raiders first score, narrowing the gap to 17-7. “It was a momentum swing for us when we really needed something to get us going,” QB Rich Gannon said, “It really jumpstarted us and got us believing that we were still in the football game.”
Shedd’s touchdown sparked a three-touchdown rally that included a 12-yard TD toss from Gannon to FB Zack Crockett, and a 22-yard TD reception by RB Napoleon Kaufman. The touchdown was a culmination of a drive that was kept alive by a roughing the punter call against Chiefs LB Derrick Thomas.
|RB Tyrone Wheatley scores one of his two touchdowns for the Raiders in Kansas City.|
All of a sudden the Raiders led 21-17 with 4:09 left in the first half after trailing 17-0 early on.
This game, with major playoff implications for the Chiefs, would see six lead changes, 46 first downs, 542 yards passing, and 18 punts between the two clubs. It turned into an AFC West shootout that recalled the days of Len Dawson and Daryle Lamonica, and would instantly be etched into the annals of Oakland Raiders lore.
Grbac and Gannon traded touchdown passes just before halftime. Grbac found TE Tony Gonzalez on a 7-yard scoring play and Gannon hit RB Tyrone Wheatley on a 23-yard scoring strike as the Raiders took a 28-24 lead into the locker room at the half.
As the second half started, the Chiefs wasted no time in reclaiming the lead they had lost in the blink of an eye. Grbac (20-39 for 243 yards and three TDs) directed a 13-play, 98-yard drive that ended with a Joe Horn 15-yard touchdown reception. Horn’s TD catch gave the Chiefs a short-lived 31-28 lead.
After the ensuing kickoff, Gannon hit WR Tim Brown (six catches for 122 yards) for a 42-yard pass play. Brown’s grab set up Wheatley’s bruising 26-yard TD run. Wheatley broke seven tackles en route to paydirt. Raiders 35, Chiefs 31.
Despite the gunslinging between Gannon and Grbac, this game would be decided by the field goal kickers. A sore spot for the Raiders in 1999, the kicking game would play a major role in the outcome of this game.
|WR Tim Brown had six catches for 122 yards.|
With the Raiders holding a tenuous 35-31 lead, the Chiefs mounted yet another comeback. Midway through the fourth quarter, Grbac struck again, this time finding WR Kevin Lockett for a 39-yard touchdown play. The Chiefs now led 38-35. The game was starting to look like a bad rerun of the Week 12 matchup in Oakland. However, recently acquired K Joe Nedney was not about to let that happen.
Trailing by three with 45 seconds to go in the game, Nedney drilled a 38-yard game-tying field goal. But the Chiefs weren’t finished. Kansas City was able to get into position for a 44-yard field goal attempt. K Pete Stoyanovich, whose 44-yarder beat the Raiders back in Week 12, missed this attempt and the game went into overtime.
The Raiders won the toss at the start of the overtime session and elected to receive. That one flip of the coin would decide the game and the Chiefs playoff fate. Chiefs K Jon Baker, handling kickoff duties for Kansas City, pushed the opening overtime kickoff out of bounds setting Oakland up on their own 40-yard line. Gannon continued with the hot hand hitting Dudley and Brown in succession to get the Raiders into field goal range.
Nedney came on and blasted a 33-yard field goal to give the Raiders a 41-38 OT victory over the Chiefs. The loss cost the Chiefs not only the AFC West crown, but a trip to the playoffs altogether. The Raiders finished the season at 8-8 and missed the playoffs. But, the victory over arch rival Kansas City at Arrowhead stadium was the perfect way to kick off the new Century. It also proved that you can’t count the Raiders out in any game, regardless of the deficit.