LJ Sparks KC to 34-27 Win Over Raiders

It's becoming abundantly clear that the power struggle to draft running back Larry Johnson could wind up being a good thing for this organization. After another game day injury to Derrick Blaylock, Johnson stepped up his game and scored two second half touchdowns lifting the Chiefs to a 34-27 victory.

Well even though a loss would have served this team a better draft slot next April as this organization has already begun evaluating college talent for the 2005; the draft that yielded running back Larry Johnson seems to paying off huge dividends. On the day he scored twice, ran for 118 yards and caught three passes for 57 yards.

Johnson scored two third quarter touchdowns one by his legs and the other through the air that completed the Chiefs comeback after the Raiders dominated both sides of the ball in the first half leading 20-10.

The game opened as many have for the Chiefs this season with the opposing team moving the ball at will. This defense has been plagued by giving up the big play a record number of times this season and the Raiders took advantage of just that in the first half.

Kerry Collins fresh from his best performance of the season last week against the Broncos on the road continued his hot hand against the Chiefs. On the day Collins threw three touchdowns.

On the first two Oakland series Collins led the Raiders two a pair of Sebastian Janikowski field goals. The left footed kicker nailed a pair from 27 and 36 yards.

Sandwiched in between the Oakland field goals, the Chiefs put together their first long scoring drive of the day. Trent Green who struggled some last week against the Chargers put together the teams best drive of the first half. He used a variety of receivers to get the ball into Raiders territory. Back-up running back Derrick Blaylock sealed the first touchdown drive with a nifty 20-yard screen pass that gave the Chiefs a 7-3 lead.

With the Raiders trailing 7-6, Collins went back to work and this time he found the electrifying Donald Curry. The former North Carolina power forward has made a name for himself this season learning a new position and excelling at it. Curry caught a screen pass from Collins and he raced across the field cutting the grain and turned a short gainer into a 34-yard touchdown that gave the Raiders a 13-7 lead.

On the next possession the Chiefs offense turned the ball over to the Raiders. Green was trying to hook up with wide receiver Johnnie Morton. But Morton slipped and Raiders cornerback and soon to be free agent Charles Woodson picked off the errant pass.

Two plays later Collins hit a wide open Jerry Porter who ran all the way across the field and was behind the entire Chiefs secondary for a 51-yard scoring strike that gave the Raiders a 20-7 lead. On the play, William Bartee slowed up and let Porter run past him and the Chiefs safeties never rolled over to cover the fastest Raider.

The Chiefs added a 28-yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes and trailed 20-10 at halftime.

But in the second half the Chiefs offense was unstoppable. On the opening possession, Green turned to third string running back Larry Johnson and he did his best Priest Holmes imitation. Johnson culminated an 8-play, 86-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run that cut the Raiders lead to 20-17. On the drive Johnson caught several passes and made some crucial short yardage runs that kept the drive alive.

After the Chiefs defense forced the Raiders to kick; Green and company went back to work. Again Johnson was the featured back, this time the Chiefs used up 4:16 and drove the ball 80-yards in seven plays. Johnson made several key plays including a 27-yard gain out of the backfield on a dump off pass. Green rewarded Johnson by throwing him a dart out of the backfield that Johnson caught at the ten-yard line and raced into the end zone untouched and that gave Kansas City a 24-20 lead.

But the Raiders offense who had been shut down most of the third quarter came back in the fourth quarter. This time Collins went back to work and threw the ball down the field and the Chiefs secondary was powerless to stop them. Collins on the ninth play of the drive found a wide open Curry for his second touchdown of the game. This time Curry burned Dexter McCleon who looked bad on the play. That gave the Raiders a 27-24 lead.

But unlike the last four weeks which were all losses, the Chiefs did not meltdown in the fourth quarter offensively. Green went back to work and drive the Chiefs 75 yards in nine-plays that culminated in Tynes second field goal of the game from 22-yards out. That tied the score at 27-27.

The Chiefs defense this time stopped the Raiders offense once they crossed the midfield stripe. Taking over on the Raiders 12-yard line, Green went back to work. He used Johnson's running ability to get them out of the hole and a couple of first downs. Then he went back to the air this time hitting Eddie Kennison on a 70-yard catch and run that gave the Chiefs a 34-27 lead.

On the play Kennison was wide open but broke free when Raiders safety Stuart Schweigert tried to remove the ball from the Chiefs wide receiver. Instead Kennison spun around and sailed untouched into the end zone.

This time the defense held and the Raiders gave up the ball on downs and the Chiefs won their 4th game of the season. It was a hard fought game and one the franchise probably needed but it only was a good win if the team learned something about some of their young players like Johnson.

Next week the Chiefs travel to Tennessee to play the Titans on Monday Night Football.


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