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The 10 (OK, 12) Most Significant Chiefs Games of All Time Where Do You Think They Rank?

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Above image credit: Patrick Mahomes has led the Kansas City Chiefs to three Super Bowl championships. (David Stluka | AP)
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9 minute read

Many football fans in Kansas City and around the world are calling last Sunday’s divisional round Chiefs win over the Buffalo Bills the greatest playoff game of all time — and there’s certainly a case for it.

The 42-36 thriller took overtime to determine a winner and once again made the NFL’s sudden death overtime playoff rules a major topic of debate in sporting circles.

While most folks are looking ahead to the AFC championship game Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, your friends at Flatland have been pondering something else — a chronological list of the most significant games (win or loss) in Chiefs franchise history.

Here for your consideration is what we came up with:

Oct. 6, 1963 – Chiefs vs. Houston Oilers, First Home Game

Following a win, loss and tie in three straight road games to start the season, the Chiefs lined up for their first regular season game in front of a home Kansas City crowd.

Led by quarterback Len Dawson, the AFL’s newly relocated Chiefs (formerly the Dallas Texans), shared Kansas City Municipal Stadium with the Kansas City Athletics of Major League Baseball.

The Chiefs won their Kansas City debut against the Houston Oilers 28-7 and Dawson was throwing strikes. The quarterback finished with 225 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. The Chiefs defense came away with four interceptions by four different players.

Jan. 15, 1967 – Chiefs vs. Green Bay Packers, Super Bowl I

Before it became known as the Super Bowl, football’s biggest game was the AFL-NFL World Championship. The AFL’s Chiefs entered the inaugural championship game 11-2-1. Head coach Vince Lombardi’s Packers boasted a 12-2 record.

Packers quarterback Bart Starr was named the game’s MVP after his side handled the underdog Chiefs 35-10 in Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Despite a relatively competitive first half between the teams, a big interception and 50-yard return by Packer Willie Wood broke it open.

The Packers scored 21 unanswered points and Starr finished with 250 yards passing and two touchdowns.

Jan. 11, 1970 – Chiefs vs. Minnesota Vikings, Super Bowl IV

The 1969 Chiefs finished the regular season 11-3, despite only seven starts and nine games played by quarterback Len Dawson, who dealt with a leg injury.

Coach Hank Stram and his unit avenged two regular season losses against the rival Raiders in the AFL championship game, only for Dawson to return against the heavily favored (12.5 points) Vikings in Super Bowl IV. 

The Chiefs shocked the sporting world with a 23-7 victory and earned the franchise’s first Super Bowl crown.

Nov. 1, 1970 – Chiefs vs. Oakland Raiders, Ben Davidson’s Cheap Shot

Week 7 of the 1970 season was undoubtedly circled by players and fans alike. The first matchup between the bitter rivals after 1969’s AFL championship game came down to the wire.

Up three, Dawson scrambled right for a crucial first down to seemingly seal the game. The quarterback reached the mark and went down, but a late helmet spear by notoriously dirty Raiders defensive end Ben Davidson sent the game in an entirely different direction.

Following the late hit, a brawl broke out between the clubs and offsetting penalties forced the Chiefs to try on third down once again. They fell short, the Raiders took over and kicker George Blanda hit a field goal to end the game in a 17-17 tie.

The Raiders went on to win the AFC West that season and the NFL was forced to change the offsetting penalty rule after a dead ball that resulted in a replay of the down.

Dec. 25, 1971 – Chiefs vs. Miami Dolphins, The Longest Game

In another divisional round classic, the Chiefs and Dolphins squared off in what is still the longest NFL game ever played. It took a total of 82 minutes and 40 seconds of game clock to determine a winner in the game, which was only the second double overtime game in NFL history. 

Hall of Fame head coach Don Shula’s squad got the job done in the second period of bonus football. Hearts were broken in Kansas City as Miami kicker Garo Yepremian hit a 37-yard game winner. The final score was 27-24. For the betters out there, Vegas had the Chiefs -3.0.

The Chiefs wouldn’t return to the playoffs for 15 painful years.

Jan. 7, 1996 – Chiefs vs. Indianapolis Colts, Two words: Lin Elliott

In a game played at 11 degrees with a -15 wind chill factor at Arrowhead Stadium, one of the best Chiefs teams of the decade was heavily favored against the Colts in yet another divisional round in Kansas City.

The low-scoring affair wound up in a 10-7 Colts victory. Chiefs fans would never forget (or forgive) kicker Lin Elliott, who went 0-3 in three field goal attempts in the game, including a 42-yarder that would have set up overtime.

Jan. 11, 2004 – Chiefs vs. Indianapolis Colts, No Punts Playoff Game

Future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning punched his first ticket to the AFC championship in the AFC divisional round game against the Chiefs.

The painful loss for the Chiefs faithful at Arrowhead Stadium came at the end of a 13-3 regular season campaign and an undefeated 8-0 run at home. The back-and-forth contest featured no punts from either team. Highlights include 304 yards passing and three touchdowns from Manning. Chiefs running back Priest Holmes finished with 176 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

The Chiefs clawed back, down 38-17 in the third quarter, but fell a touchdown short in the 38-31 game. The Colts went on to lose to the New England Patriots in the AFC championship.

Nov. 19, 2018 – Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Rams, Monday Night Football Shootout

One of the best regular season games in NFL history, Monday Night Football’s Week 11 matchup between the 9-2 Chiefs and 10-1 Rams at Memorial Coliseum was pure chaos.

Despite five turnovers, Mahomes racked up 478 yards passing and six touchdowns. Rams quarterback Jared Goff put up 413 yards and four touchdowns in the game. Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill led the way offensively with 215 yards receiving and two touchdowns, though, the back-and-forth affair was marked by defense. The Rams and Chiefs combined for six defensive/special teams touchdowns.

Goff iced the highest-scoring MNF game of all time with a 40-yard shot to tight end Gerald Everett down the sideline, putting the Rams up 54-51 with under two minutes remaining. Mahomes threw a pick to former Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters on the ensuing drive.

Jan. 21, 2019 – Chiefs vs. New England Patriots, AFC Championship

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ MVP season and first as a starter took the Chiefs to the AFC championship game against Tom Brady and the Patriots. 

Arrowhead Stadium was in full roar for the AFC title game in Chiefs Kingdom, but the noise didn’t bother Brady and Co. The Pats jumped out to a 14-0 lead at half, only to go blow-for-blow with the Chiefs through regulation.

Chiefs fans could taste the Super Bowl with Brady facing third and 10, down 28-24 with under a minute remaining. That’s when defensive end Dee Ford lined up offsides, negating an interception, and in two plays Brady found the end zone.

Mahomes then led the charge on the Chiefs’ final four-play, 48-yard drive, positioning kicker Harrison Butker in field goal range. Butker sent the game into overtime, but the Patriots won the coin toss. The Pats marched and running back Rex Burkhead sealed the deal with a two-yard touchdown run for a 37-31 final score.

Jan. 19, 2020 – Chiefs vs. Tennessee Titans, AFC Championship

Following an improbable 24-point first half comeback in the divisional round against the Texans a week prior, the 2020 Chiefs seemed unbeatable.

But in a second-straight AFC championship game in Kansas City, the Chiefs dug themselves into another early hole. Down 17-7 midway through the second quarter, the Chiefs surged back to score 28-straight points against the underdog Titans. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins led the way for KC, posting 114 yards receiving and a touchdown. The Chiefs defense held jumbo Titans running back Derrick Henry to just 69 yards rushing.

The 35-24 win secured the Chiefs’ first Super Bowl appearance in 50 years. Kansas City went crazy.

Feb. 2, 2020 – Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl LIV

On the 100th anniversary of the NFL, the Chiefs honored the 50th anniversary of the franchise’s Super Bowl IV win over the Vikings with a second Lombardi Trophy.

Hard Rock Stadium in Miami was the stage for an all-time classic NFL matchup between the No. 1-seed Chiefs and the 49ers of the NFC. En route to arguably the worst game of his young career, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs did the impossible when it mattered most.

With 7:23 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Chiefs down 20-10, ESPN’s Win Probability favored the 49ers 95.4%. From there, the Chiefs scored touchdowns in each of their final three possessions and sealed the deal on defense with an interception by cornerback Kendall Fuller.

Mahomes’ miraculous performance in the 31-20 victory earned him Super Bowl MVP honors.

Jan. 23, 2022 – Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills, AFC Divisional Round, The Greatest Game Ever?

In a Week 5 heavyweight matchup that was marked by a weather delay, the Bills trounced the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. The game left a few football pundits writing off the Chiefs and declaring the Bills as the team to beat in the AFC.

The teams met once again in the divisional round at Arrowhead with a trip to the AFC championship on the line. The playoff matchup did not disappoint. The Chiefs and Bills traded scores with explosive plays on what felt like each trip.

Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis finished the game with four touchdowns and 201 yards. Mahomes and Bills quarterback Josh Allen combined for seven touchdown passes and 707 yards through the air.

In a game that many felt both teams deserved to win, the Chiefs and Bills combined to score 25 points after the two-minute warning. When Davis put the Bills up three with 13 seconds remaining, even that was too much time for Mahomes. Following two nail-biting complete passes, Harrison Butker hit a 49-yard field goal, sending the game to overtime.

The Chiefs won the coin toss and marched down the field. Tight end Travis Kelce caught the game winner for a 42-36 final score.

Honorable Mentions

Nov. 11, 1990 – Derrick Thomas records seven sacks in one game in a 17-16 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Jan. 5, 1991 – Chiefs lose a heartbreaking 17-16 wild-card playoff game to the Miami Dolphins when Nick Lowery misses a late kick.

Jan. 16, 1994 – Joe Montana leads a fourth-quarter divisional round playoff comeback as the Chiefs win 28-20 against the favored Houston Oilers.

Jan. 14, 2014 – Chiefs blow a franchise record 38-10 lead to lose 45-44 to the Indianapolis Colts in a wild-card playoff game.

Jan. 12, 2020 – Patrick Mahomes leads the biggest comeback in franchise history as the Chiefs rally to defeat the Houston Texans 51-31 in a divisional round playoff game.

Feb. 7, 2021 – Chiefs lose Super Bowl LV 31-9 to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

So what do you say, Chiefs Kingdom? Did we miss anything? And what do you think is the single most important game in Chiefs history?

We’re listening.

Who knows? There might be two more games to throw into the all-time great conversation by the time the Lombardi Trophy is hoisted again in Los Angeles.

Flatland contributor Clarence Dennis also is a social media manager for 90.9 The Bridge.

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