KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Lamar Hunt lobbied the NFL for 37 years
to put a Thanksgiving game in Kansas City, but had to listen to his
Chiefs beat Denver on Thursday night over the phone in his hospital
"Lamar, I hope you're feeling better," an emotional Trent
Green said moments after the Chiefs wrapped up a 19-10 victory in a
key AFC West showdown.
"This win," the Chiefs' quarterback said, "is for you."
The 74-year-old Hunt, who has missed only a handful of games
since founding the franchise, was admitted to a Dallas-area
hospital on Wednesday, bitterly disappointed he would not see
Kansas City's inaugurating the NFL's new Thanksgiving tripleheader.
"He's doing much better," said his son, Clark Hunt, the
chairman of the Chiefs. "He had a lung issue and needed to go to
the hospital and let them take a look at it."
Having the Chiefs dedicate the game to him was certain to be a
great tonic, the younger Hunt said.
"This game has been important to him really going back to the
AFL days. He's worked since the merger to try to get the game back
Like most NFL fans, Hunt was unable to view the game. His
hospital is not hooked into the NFL Network, which broadcast the
game to about 40 million of the country's 111 million television
homes. So his daughter held the phone near her television while he
listened on the other end.
"He told me to call him at halftime," Chiefs president Carl
Peterson said. "He said, `I'm hearing it good, I'm hearing it
good.' I told him, `Well, we're doing good.' This night is his
night as far as I'm concerned."
NFL rushing leader Larry Johnson gouged Denver's fifth-ranked
run defense for 157 yards and Lawrence Tynes kicked four field
goals for the Chiefs (7-4), who charged into a second-place tie
with the Broncos (7-4) in the AFC West.
Johnson, raising his league-leading rushing total to 1,202
yards, consistently burned the Broncos with 8- and 10-yard gains,
using his usual assortment of power moves and start-and-stop
elusiveness. The Broncos came in giving up a shade better than 90
yards per game on the ground.
"I felt real good," Johnson said. "Overall, it's just your
energy. You know that the whole nation is going to be watching you.
It's the only game at night and it feels like a Monday night
Johnson scored the Chiefs' only touchdown on a 1-yard vault late
in the second quarter following a crucial mistake by the Broncos'
Ebenezer Ekuban, who was called for roughing the passer on a failed
third-and-4 play from the 9.
"There were a lot of crucial situations when we didn't step up
and make the plays when we should," Denver cornerback Champ Bailey
said. "One thing we've got to realize is we've got a lot of
football left to play."
Tynes hit from 24, 34, 29 and 21 yards for the Chiefs, who have
put themselves in a strong playoff position by shaking off a host
of injuries and winning five of their last six.
Making the night even more festive was an in-house
standing-room-only crowd of 80,866, the largest since 1972, the
year the Chiefs opened the facility that many call the loudest
outdoor stadium in the league.
"Our fans were awesome," Chiefs defensive end Jared Allen
said. "We took energy from them all night."
The Broncos did not even snap the ball in Kansas City territory
until after Jake Plummer hit Javon Walker with a 21-yard pass to
the 47 with 1:30 left in the half. Nine plays later, Jason Elam
kicked a 31-yard field goal that made it 10-3 at halftime.
Plummer dropped to 0-6 in six starts in Kansas City and had his
second pass intercepted when tight end Stephen Alexander tipped the
ball into the hands of cornerback Ty Law, leading to KC's first
field goal. He was 25-for-39 for 216 yards and no doubt speculation
will pick up steam over whether rookie Jay Cutler is about to be
"We'll see what happens there," safety John Lynch said. "That
is the other side of the ball. We've got to look at our side."
With Pro Bowl players Brian Waters back at guard Tony Gonzalez
back at tight end, KC's offense was back to nearly full strength
for the first time since Sept. 10. Green, who made his return seven
days earlier after a 10-week absence with a concussion, was
13-for-22 for 161 yards and his first interception in two games.
The Broncos, in contrast, were more crippled than they'd been
all year. Safety Nick Ferguson was lost for the season this week
with a knee injury and Tatum Bell, their leading rusher, was
sidelined by turf toe. Earlier, defensive end Courtney Brown and
star offensive tackle Matt Lepsis were also lost for the season.
The Broncos got a huge break in the third quarter when Patrick
Surtain's interception of Plummer's pass was nullified by an
illegal contact penalty on Kansas City cornerback Lenny Walls.
Surtain returned the ball to the Denver 17, but the Broncos
wound up with a first down on their own 40 and Plummer immediately
connected with David Kircus for a 36-yard gain, Denver's biggest of
A few minutes later, Plummer's 1-yard touchdown pass to
Alexander made it 13-10.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was in town for the game and
said the league had not discussed how the third leg of the
Thanksgiving tripleheader would be rotated. Clark Hunt said the
Chiefs would try to get it next year. ... The Broncos have lost two
straight for the first time since late in the 2004 season.