Johnson powers Chiefs past Jaguars

Each crossing their fingers for Cincinnati and Tennessee losses, Kansas City and Jacksonville focused on the task at hand. Needing the Denver Broncos and New York Jets respectively to also break down, Sunday's game looked to likely be the last of 2006 for both teams.

Or, maybe not, but Kansas City's 35-30 New Year's Eve victory was only a small portion of the requirements for the Chiefs to avoid missing the playoffs in back-to-back years.

"We might fall short," said head coach Herm Edwards. "If so, we have no one to blame but ourselves. We had our fate in our own hands, now we don't."

Quarterback Trent Green was picked early in the first quarter by cornerback Rashean Mathis, inducing eye rolls and loud sighs throughout the minds of skeptical fans everywhere. Fully aware of the Chiefs' anti-climatic 8-7 season prior to New Year's Eve, fans still packed a mound of hope in their red, puffy coat pockets. Green's consistent inconsistencies were not to be tolerated.

A quick three-and-out series led to a Jacksonville punt. Rookie safety Bernard Pollard showed off what he seems to do best, blocking Chris Hanson's punt and chasing it down for a Kansas City touchdown.

"I turned around and threw my hands up," said Pollard. "I figured I had a 50/50 chance."

The coat pockets of hope bulged.

Fred Taylor's 26-yard touchdown reception in the opening minute of the second quarter tied the game, deflating the coat pockets. For the Chiefs faithful, however, the score wasn't the only reason to be less than hopeful.

In the first half, the Chiefs were on nowhere near the same page. Wide receiver Samie Parker wasn't simply dropping passes, he was running routes where Green's passes weren't. The almighty Larry Johnson finally broke out for big run with less than 10 minutes to play in the first half, sprinting 40 yards through the middle of the Jacksonville defense.

Kansas City took a 14-10 lead when Johnson's signature flight over the goal-line defense worked flawlessly once again.

The next touchdown was even prettier. In true backyard style, Green and receiver Eddie Kennison pulled off an absolutely indefensible flea-flicker touchdown pass. The 35-yard trick capped off a 72-yard drive and locked in a solid 21-10 halftime lead.

"It's a lot of fun when you can dig into the playbook and do some crazy stuff," said Kennison. "It's even more fun when it works."

"Desperate teams do desperate things," said Edwards. "I think some people think I'm conservative. I'm just trying to win the game."

Johnson went on to break the single season Chiefs record for 100-yard games. Sunday was his 11th 100-yard effort of the season. Not surprisingly, LJ also picked up the NFL record for single season carries, finishing with 33 carries for 138 yards. Meanwhile, the offensively-impaired Raiders trailed just 10-3 at half, and the Bengals and Titans were both doing their part by losing their respective games.

The coat pockets of hope began to overflow. The hometown boys just might do it. The playoffs were within reach.

"We're like everybody else," Edwards said. "We're crossing our fingers."

Not three minutes into the second half, cornerback Ty Law picked off a screen pass intended for Reggie Williams. When eventually brought down, Law surfaced at Jacksonville's two-yard line. That line of scrimmage was hardly a challenge for Johnson as Law's help resulted in LJ's second touchdown of the day.

Kansas City took a commanding 28-10 lead for approximately three whole minutes, and then all hell proceeded to break loose.

Jaguars backup quarterback Quinn Gray entered the game and directed a crisp drive that ended in his own nine-yard touchdown run.

As the frantic back-and-forth scoring continued, the cast also changed on Kansas City's side. A hard hit on a scramble by Green put him on the sidelines with a sprained ankle. Damon Huard entered and tossed a 40-yard pass downfield that Kennison nabbed with one hand. That set up Johnson's third touchdown and a 35-17 Kansas City lead.

Green would later return to the game only to be intercepted again.

The crowd noticed. Kansas City's two-time Pro Bowler was booed when he returned to the field for the following series. Green finished the game with three turnovers.

"Nobody likes to hear it," said Green of the crowd's disapproval. "I feel more for my family having to hear it, though. As a quarterback you can never get too high or too low."

Meanwhile, Gray ran for another touchdown to narrow the gap to 35-24. Jacksonville got another touchdown before the Chiefs ran the clock out with some more tough running from Johnson. And then there was only one thing left to do.

"I'm going home and sitting down with some popcorn and watching the game," Pollard said. "Hail 49ers!" Top Stories