Chiefs and Browns both remember this play
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If the ending to Sunday's Browns-Chiefs game is even half as weird as last year's, the NFL might consider not scheduling these two again.
Or maybe commissioner Paul Tagliabue will insist they get together at least twice a season. Nothing that happened to either team the rest of the year proved more entertaining -- or unbelievable -- than Kansas City's 40-39 victory in the 2002 opener.
"It was the most bizarre ending to a football game I've ever been a part of in 22 years," said Morten Andersen, who kicked the winning field goal well after the game clock had gone to zeros.
"It sure was a fun one."
It wasn't fun for the Browns.
"I clearly believe it had a dramatic effect on the poor start we got off to," Browns coach Butch Davis said.
The Browns started the 2002 season 2-4 but won seven of their last 10 games to make the AFC playoffs as a wild-card team. For Kansas City, the wild win opened an equally up-and-down 8-8 season.
All it took for the Chiefs to emerge victorious was a desperation last-second lateral, a 330-pound offensive lineman doing a Priest Holmes imitation and a Cleveland linebacker making the boneheaded mistake of a career.
Then Andersen had to kick a 30-yarder to cap the whole incredible escapade.
"Even when it was happening, I thought, `This is surreal," he said.
The Chiefs were backed up inside their own territory with 5 seconds left when Trent Green took the ball and looked desperately downfield. Linebacker Dwayne Rudd came crashing in and wrestled Green to the ground.
But the next second, tackle John Tait had the ball and was rumbling 28 yards down the field. Rudd, with his back to Tait, thought he had sacked Green and the game was over.
Rudd ripped off his helmet and sent it flying. Out came a yellow flag.
The unsportsmanlike conduct penalty tacked another 15 yards onto Tait's run and put the ball in comfortable range for Andersen. The Browns stood around in disbelief as the officials signaled the kick good.
Rudd was cut during the offseason, along with several other players, in a salary cap purge. And no one figures the bizarre play will have any bearing on Sunday's game between the Chiefs (8-0) and Browns (3-5).
Still, Davis had trouble sleeping that night.
"We struggled early because of that (and) because of an awful lot of injuries," he said. "We had several offensive linemen in and out of the lineup the first five or six games of the season, then the quarterback situation. It took us to the middle part of the season to somewhat get healthy and somewhat put that ballgame behind and kind of catch a little bit of momentum.
"But clearly that certainly put everybody in a funk the first couple of weeks of the season."
Tait took plenty of good-natured ribbing from his teammates.
"Trent and I made eye contact as he was being tackled and he just sort of flipped me the ball. I blacked out then," he said, grinning. "I just took off by instinct. It seemed like I was running fast. But now when I see the tape it looks like I'm running slower and slower."
Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil felt so sorry for Davis, he called him the next week.
"I've lost some games that I felt I had no business losing. I know how you feel," he said. "Out of my respect for my profession and the guy on the other line of scrimmage, you almost have a little empathy. I remember calling him the next week and saying, 'Butch, I sure hope that game doesn't keep you out of the playoffs, because I think you've got a good football team."
"It was one of the weirder things I've ever seen happen," Holcomb said. "Hey, I wish the ref could have kind of turned his head. But that's the rules of the game."
An imaginative headline in an Ohio newspaper the next day seemed to capture the Browns' mood.
"Down the Dwayne," it said.
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
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