Chiefs edge Broncos to gain ground in AFC West
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – With a little help from instant replay, the AFC West race suddenly got a lot tighter.The Kansas City Chiefs received a favorable ruling when they challenged the spot on a run that appeared to give Denver a first down near midfield on a fourth-and-1 play with 2:01 left. Then the Chiefs (8-4) ran the clock down to 3 seconds and preserved a 31-27 victory that pulled them to within one game of the Broncos (9-3), who had won four in a row.Trent Green threw two touchdown passes and Larry Johnson rushed for 140 yards and two more scores, but one of the biggest plays was Mike Anderson’s plunge into the right side of the line on fourth down.
Officials on the field gave him a first down a couple of yards short of the 50. But coach Dick Vermeil threw the challenge flag and the officials overturned the spot.When Denver got the ball back with 3 seconds left, Jake Plummer – who threw two costly interceptions – had time for one heave. It fell incomplete.Plummer, who went 229 passes without an interception until the Dallas Cowboys got one last week, was picked off by Kawika Mitchell on his first throw of the second half. He also threw an interception to Patrick Surtain in the first half on fourth-and-goal from the 4.Following Mitchell’s interception, Lawrence Tynes kicked a 34-yard field to put Kansas City up 24-21, but Jason Elam tied the game with a 22-yard field goal a few minutes later.After Darrent Williams intercepted Green’s pass on the Chiefs’ next possession, Elam kicked a 40-yarder to put the Broncos on top 27-24.
Johnson, with his fifth straight 100-yard game, scored on a 4-yard run to make it 31-27 with 9:58 left.Eddie Kennison caught four passes for 108 yards for the Chiefs, who entered the game tied with Pittsburgh and San Diego for the last wild-card spot.Plummer went 18-of-29 for 276 yards and one TD.Anderson scored on long and short touchdown plays in an action-filled first half that ended in a 21-21 tie.On the Broncos’ second play of the game, he took Plummer’s pass in the flat and went 66 yards, putting a move on Greg Wesley in the middle of the field that left the Chiefs’ safety face-down in embarrassment.
After the Chiefs took a 14-7 lead, Anderson scored on a 1-yard run following a review that nullified what game officials had called a 9-yard TD run by Plummer. The ball was placed on the 1 and Anderson scored two plays later.Dante Hall got behind Denver cornerback Champ Bailey in the first half, and Green hit him with a 41-yard TD pass. Kennison had a 54-yard catch on the Chiefs’ next possession and Larry Johnson scored from the 1.Kennison had a 27-yard catch to set up Green’s 25-yard TD pass to Tony Gonzalez for a 21-14 lead, which the Broncos erased with 22 seconds left in the half on a trick play.Second-year reserve quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt lined up behind center as Plummer was flanked left on second-and-goal from the 7. Van Pelt took the snap and went almost untouched into the end zone for a TD on his first NFL play.
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