Chiefs Blitz Bengals 37-3

If only they held their destiny in their own hands. The stage was set perfectly for the 37-3 victory against AFC North Champion Cincinnati Bengals. The field at Arrowhead looked green and gorgeous, contrasting drastically to the muddy trenches on Christmas Eve.

Sunny skies warmed the stadium, allowing the red-clad Kansas City faithful to yell tribute to their retiring leader Dick Vermeil.

All was perfect.

Unfortunately, things were just as pleasant in Pittsburg. Denver did its job, clinching a first-round bye against San Diego on New Year's Eve, leaving just the Steelers blocking the Chiefs' path to the play-offs.

"It's tough and it's our fault," wide receiver Eddie Kennison said after a 151-yard receiving day. "We put ourselves in a position to rely on somebody else."

But while Antowan Randle-El returned opening kick-offs for touchdowns, Kansas City focused in on the only outcome under its control.

"Needless to say, I'm very proud of the way they played today," Vermeil said. "We just didn't get some of the things done at the time they needed to get done. But I think we've demonstrated that we're a playoff caliber team."

The Chiefs stayed together as a team Saturday night for the first time under Vermeil's reign. The reservations he made at the Marriott a month and a half ago were not intended to give the head coach a well-lit stage to announce his retirement, but to keep his playoff potential team away from any temptations to go out for the holiday.

It did, however, give him the chance to tell his team the night before their last game together.

"I think most of the guys were motivated," Green said. "You could just tell the energy in the locker room before the game, during warm-ups, before introductions."

The energy was obvious.

Kicker Lawrence Tynes nailed a 35-yarder with less than five minutes to play in the first quarter to kick off the scoring raid. Opposing kicker Shayne Graham kicked his own three minutes later. The 49-yard field goal barely cleared the crossbar, to tie the game at three.

Sticking to three-pointers, Tynes connected again four minutes into the second quarter, this time on a 24-yarder.

In the meantime, Lions quarterback Joey Harrington proceeded to have the game of his life, notching two touchdown passes in the first quarter, finding offensive outlets other than his receivers.

"What difference does it make? We didn't get it done," Vermeil said.

Nothing wrong in positive thinking.

Never mind that Detroit's progress wasn't displayed anywhere in Arrowhead, this playoff run wasn't based on one game. Quarterback Trent Green admitted that he didn't want to know the status of Pittsburgh's game while he was playing his own, but that, in this case, no news was bad news.

Judging by quarterback Carson Palmer's exit after the first quarter, this game was the Chiefs for the taking.

And Larry Johnson took every bit of it.

Before the two minute warning of the first half Johnson collected his ninth consecutive 100-yard rushing performance and scored a pair of touchdowns. Possibly playing inspired for the man concerned with his diapers last season, the All-Pro running back ran for 137 yards in the first two quarters.

"To watch Larry Johnson mature from the experiences we've gone through, the highs and lows, the criticisms," Vermeil said after his final game. "To watch him come off the field with a smile like he had today, that just makes some of the things you go through that are tough, even more rewarding."

The play prior to Johnson's first touchdown of the afternoon put LJ past superstar of old, Priest Holmes's single-season rush record of 1,615 yards in 2002.

Apparently bored with field goals, Kansas City's offense erupted before the break. In less than three minutes total, the Chiefs rode to a 17-point halftime lead on the back of Larry Johnson.

At the two-minute mark, a 68-yard downfield march resulted in a 49-yard Johnson run.

Thirty-seven seconds later, with the help of Sammy Knights interception from second string quarterback Jon Kitna's, LJ took another trip to the end zone. The two-play drive drove the last nail in the Bengals' first half coffin with Johnson's 14-yard touchdown run as the hammer.

While the Pittsburg Steelers ruined any chance of Chiefs sightings in the postseason, Johnson ran for his third of the day. LJ and Co. traveled 60 yards in less than two-and-a-half minutes.

L. Johnson would go on to fair much better than Cincinnati's R. Johnson. LJ gathered 222 yards of total offense compared to RJ's 17.

"Isn't this the show-me state?" Johnson asked. "I had to show what I can do."

Actually, Larry was the only Johnson to show up. The highly anticipated Chad Johnson entertainment factor left the 77,000 plus fans wanting more. After all, sacrificing a touchdown is a small price to pay for a show from the Bengals number 85.

The onslaught of touchdowns subsided long enough for Tynes to make another appearance. He hit his third of the day, from 23 yards out, with a little more than four minutes left in the third quarter.

Green also made an appearance. Although just a mere co-star of the Larry Johnson show, he did throw for 344 yards and a 127.6 passer rating by the end of the third quarter.

"I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to get it done for him and the Kansas City Chiefs," Green said of his team's lost opportunity at the postseason.

Even the rookie got involved. Running back Dee Brown stepped out of Johnson's shadow in time to catch an eight-yard touchdown toss from Green to cap a five-play drive and give his teary-eyed coach a lofty 34-point lead.

The minutes ticked away at Arrowhead Stadium and wasted away at Hines Field.

Vermeil made the rounds, hugging the players he's grown to love.

"People talk about his emotions, that he cries a lot," Green said with a smile. "But that's something to be valued."

The beautifully executed offense, the record breaking Larry Johnson season and a Dick Vermeil legacy ended as time expired in Pittsburgh.

A 35-21 battle out did the 37-3 blowout.

Instantly changing the topic of the final score to rabid speculations as to who might replace the 69-year old father figure. Vermeil does not yet have plans for the future, but does plan to keep in touch with the relationships he's formed in Kansas City.

"I'll always cherish it," Vermeil said. "I am a Chief." Top Stories