On the day when the top four contenders for home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs all had to rally from behind or win in overtime, the Chiefs saw a 10-point third-quarter lead disappear when the Raiders kicked a game-tying field goal with 2:18 remaining.
But just as they did in answering a Raider touchdown with one of their own off the two-minute offense to end the first half, the Chiefs answered Sebastian Janikowski's game-tying 41-yard field goal by driving 38 yards on eight plays to set up Morten Andersen's 35-yard game-winning into a tricky headwind.
"We did a lot of things well, but the No. 1 thing we did was to do enough to win," summarized coach Dick Vermeil. "Like I told them (Monday): all we have to do is whatever is required to win."
For the Chiefs - who have been accused of being as lucky as they are good this year -- that meant getting some breaks and making some breaks.
They got a huge one after Oakland's Phillip Buchanon returned a fourth-quarter punt to the Chiefs 26, but then was penalized for removing his helmet in a celebratory gesture. That set up Oakland at the 41 instead of the 26, and the Raiders got only the game-tying field goal.
On their two-minute response, the Chiefs survived two misplays -- Tony Gonzalez being flagged for offensive pass interference and eliminating a first-down catch on third-and-4 from the 23, and Johnnie Morton dropping a pass at the 10 on third-and-14 from the 33.
Facing fourth-and-14 from the 33 with 19 seconds left, the Chiefs knew a 51-yard Andersen kick into the cold, fierce wind was not an option. They had to gamble.
They won when their offensive line successfully picked up a Charles Woodson blitz and gave Trent Green time to find Marc Boerigter open after running a perfect pattern. Boerigter, whose second NFL season has been a disappointing one with only six catches prior to Sunday, drove his defender deep, then cut back before stopping well beyond the first-down sticks. Green's pass for 16 put the ball on the 17, where KC stopped the clock and brought on Andersen.
The kick wouldn't be a gimmie, and Vermeil knew it. Trying to keep Andersen loose, the head coach offered his wine connoisseur kicker some added incentive.
"I told him, 'You make this kick and you've got one of my Bryant Family vintages, and they're impossible to get,' " Vermeil said.
The 43-year-old Andersen, the league's second-oldest kicker, converted the 31st game-winning field goal of his 22-year career, meaning the 10-1 Chiefs are on the verge of popping some corks throughout their locker room.
They can clinch their first AFC West title since 1997 -- when they were 13-3 -- with a victory in San Diego this week coupled with a Denver home loss against Oakland.