The Point After: Raiders vs. Chiefs

On Sunday afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders staged another fantastic finish. As was the case in week number two when Kansas City defeated the Raiders on the next to last play of the game, this time the Chiefs waited until the final play to secure a 27-23 victory.

Over the past decade last second heroics have been the trademark for contests between the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders. Of all those last second finishes a few of them can be counted among the greatest plays in franchise history.

In 1995 cornerback James Hasty intercepted a pass in overtime and ran it back 64 yards the touchdown in a 23-17 win. Then in 1997 quarterback Elvis Grbac connected with Andre Rison for a 32 yard touchdown on the last play of the game to give the Chiefs a 28- 27 victory.

Now the Chiefs can add yesterdays 27-23 last second victory somewhere on that list.

With 1:38 left in the game, down by three points, Trent Green lead the Chiefs on an 8 play 72 yard drive that culminated in a one yard touchdown by Larry Johnson as time expired. When you recap the drive the most impressive portion took place in the last 19 seconds on the final two plays. With the pocket collapsing around him, Trent Green stood on the 37 yard line without any receivers open deep. Green calmly went through his progressions and checked down to Larry Johnson who was five yard up the field and underneath the Raider's coverage.

Remarkably Oakland had vacated the middle of the field and enabled Johnson to take Green's pass and streak 36 yards towards the end zone. Oakland cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha managed to reach Johnson and tackle him from behind on the one yard line. This forced the Chiefs to use their last time out and what happened next would be one of the gutsiest calls Dick Vermeil has made as a head coach.

Instead of taking the safe rout and kicking a field goal to send the game in to overtime Vermeil stacked all of his chips in to one pile and went for the win. With 5 seconds on the clock and their season on the line Larry Johnson took an inside handoff behind a Tony Richardson lead block and dove through the air for the go ahead score. Arrowhead soon erupted in one of its most memorable wins in recent history.

When looking back at this game as a whole the lack of scoring in the first half was rather surprising. Most people anticipated this contest to be a battle of aerial firepower but first two quarters ended up being a duel of defense and field goals.

Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham put together a very sound game plan and for the first three quarters his players executed that plan with perfection. Their play in the first half was particularly impressive as they stiffened their red zone defense on three separate occasions to hold the Raiders to 9 first half points. It should also be noted that the field position for 6 of those 9 points came at no fault of the defense. Two of the Raiders first half field goals were a direct result of a turnover by the offense and a 62 yard kickoff return by Chris Carr.

When it comes to individual performances the Chiefs defensive backs had a very strong day. Cornerback Dewayne Washington shut out receiver Randy Moss for most the game and it wasn't until late in the fourth quarter that Moss finally managed to snag his only catch of the day. Granted it was a touchdown but Washington was solid all game long. Surprisingly enough Washington ended up having a better day against Moss than teammate Patrick Surtain had in the teams' first meeting of the season back in week two.

Cornerback Eric Warfield and safety Greg Wesley also had big games in the secondary. In the final minute of the third quarter Greg Wesley came up with a huge play when he intercepted a Kerry Collins down the middle of the field. Wesley's interception set up a five play, 35 yard touchdown drive that gave the Chiefs a 20-9 lead. This is the third consecutive game where Greg Wesley has had an interception.

Although Warfield was beaten by receiver Jerry Porter on a few occasions he reminded Chiefs fans just how physical he could be in run support. The former college safety registered 7 tackles on the day and inched a little closer to his 2004 form.

If the Chiefs ever manage to get Eric Warfield and Patrick Surtain on the field at the same time their defense will become vicious. This is the primary reason that Kendrell Bell has been so quiet this season. Bell is a downhill linebacker that relies on his explosiveness to change games and intimidate offenses. With their top two corners on the field the Chiefs won't be required to play as much zone coverage which in turn gives Gunther Cunningham the freedom to unleash all three of his linebackers in to the backfield.

When it comes to Kansas City's offense the Chiefs looked as anemic as they have at any point in the season. Once again it falls on the play of the offensive line in a game where they should have been able to run on the edges against a mediocre defense. Although they improved on their performance against San Diego that still isn't saying much.

Individually Will Shields, Brian Waters, and Jason Dunn all played fairly well but the play at the tackle positions should bring strong consideration for a permanent change in the lineup. Starting right tackle Jordan Black moved to the left side to fill in for the injured Willie Roaf and once again he struggled. Black put in a Trezelle Jenkins kind of performance as he was repeatedly beaten by defensive end Tommy Kelly on critical downs and situations.

On the opposite side of the line John Welbourn did a slightly better job against Derrick Burgess but the difference in talent level between Kelly and Burgess is a fairly wide margin. At some point the Chiefs have to give up on the Jordan Black experiment and move Welbourn to the starting right tackle. This won't solve all of the Chiefs woes on the offensive line but it is a really good start.

Even with the continued struggles on the offensive line, Larry Johnson had his usual solid day against the Raiders. Johnson rushed for 107 yards on 22 carries with two touchdowns and may have stepped out of Priest Holmes shadow once and for all. This was a very encouraging sign considering the uncertain status of Holmes future. If Holmes continues to battle injuries and the offensive line is unable to regain their form, it will be up to the younger more durable Johnson to carry the workload for this offense.

It's unlikely that this game was a turning point for the Chiefs but it is definitely a step in the right direction. Their next three games are all within the conference and from a match-up standpoint each is considered winnable for the Chiefs. After Road games at Buffalo and Houston, Kansas City hosts the New England Patriots.

In that time span they'll to find their identity and hope to fix all of their offensive woes. Because on December 4th the Denver Broncos will visit Arrowhead in what could be the determining factor on who wins the AFC West and that game could be the measuring stick on how far the Chiefs intend to travel in January. Top Stories