But even Green sensed that he had to prove himself, especially with the game on the line in the fourth quarter against Oakland.
"Some doubt creeps into the mind of any player," Green said. "But I talked to coach (Herm) Edwards about it, and I talked to coach (Dick) Vermeil. He told me the same things he'd said in previous years. He said, 'Don't feel you have to be the hero after missing all this time. Just manage the game and make good decisions and hit the guys who are open.' "
That is exactly what Green did with the game on the line against Oakland.
Trailing 13-10 with 4:53 remaining after throwing only eight passes in the game's first three quarters, Green hit some huge throws in the 11-play, 80-yard drive for the game-winning touchdown with 1:32 left.
His 10-yard pass to Samie Parker followed a critical fourth-and-one gamble the Chiefs won, on a two-yard Larry Johnson run from their own 29. Green then hit Eddie Kennison for 24 and Parker again for 16 on a third-and-10 play from the Oakland 25. When Johnson capped his 154-yard rushing game with two runs from the nine, the Chiefs escaped the upset threat with a 17-13 victory.
"He made the throws when he had to have them, and that's why he's our quarterback," said Edwards, who insisted all along that Green would replace backup Damon Huard (5-3 as Green's replacement) once Green was healthy enough to return. "He's the guy you want in those late-game situations. That's why you bring a guy like that back."
The victory ran Kansas City's record to 6-4 and kept them in the AFC West race heading into their Thanksgiving Night home game with Denver.
Kansas City rallied from a 13-7 third-quarter deficit with the crunch-time drive, but still needed a big defensive stand at the end to hold off the struggling Raiders.
Aaron Brooks' 39-yard pass to Ronald Curry gave Oakland a first-down at the Chiefs' eight with 32 seconds left. But with no timeouts remaining, Brooks' pass to Randy Moss in the end zone was intercepted by rookie safety Jarrad Page, who got his first NFL pick.
"You play a tough game like that, a game when you come from behind, it creates a sense that the game is never over, there's always a way to win," Edwards said. "Our offense did a great job of getting it going at the time when we had to get it going."
But it wasn't working that well early.
The Chiefs ran only 17 first-half plays, with 10 of those being runs in the 11-play drive for a first-series Johnson touchdown. Though not on a pitch count, Green threw only four first-half passes, in part because the Chiefs needed to establish the run. But when the surprising Raider offense scored on three of four first-half possessions being the elusive Brooks, the Chiefs trailed 13-7 at halftime.
Credit the Chiefs defense, too, for pitching a second-half shutout.
CHIEFS PLAYER NOTES:
--RB Larry Johnson, in running 31 times for 154 yards and two TDs, recorded his sixth 100-yard game in 10 starts this year. The Chiefs are 15-4 when Johnson goes for 100 or more.
--RB Michael Bennett, in spelling Larry Johnson, had his best day of his first year in Kansas City when he rushed for 43 yards on only three carries. He had one run of 20 and another of 12.
--QB Trent Green's fourth-quarter rally was the 16th time in his six-year Chiefs career that he led his team to a victory after being behind or tied in the fourth quarter.
--TE Tony Gonzalez, who did not start because of a sore shoulder, had a streak of 120 consecutive games snapped. He should be regarded as questionable for Thursday's game with Denver.
--SS Greg Wesley told Warpaint Illustrated Beat Writer Mike Nugent on Sunday that he should be ready to play Thursday Night when the Chiefs host the Denver Broncos.
Chiefs Slide By Raiders
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