The big win. Every team looks for them around every corner. The big win can energize a team and send them to the next level.
In 51 seasons, the Kansas City Chiefs have several of these big wins. They can vary in importance from a win to save face all the way to a win that brings a team the glory they have been working towards for seasons, the culmination of years of work.
While the glory of the win may be very temporary, the memory of the game sticks in the minds of fans for years, reminding them why they continue to root for this team through thick and thin.
These games define a player’s career in Kansas City and can cause fans to celebrate long after they have hung their jersey up for the last time. For every Hall of Famer in the red and yellow, there is a game that is remembered as their defining moment.
While Chiefs’ fans look towards the next season with a mix of optimism and skepticism that you find far too often in sports fans, we can remember these 25 games as moments when our team stood out and made their mark.
These are the 25 biggest wins in Chiefs history.
There, they faced the Houston Oilers, a team that was in their third straight championship game.
The Oilers and Texans split the season series each winning on the road, so the game was expected to be an exciting one from the start. After leading 17-0 at the half, the Texans lead disappeared in the second half with Oilers tying it up.
The Texans stayed alive late in the fourth quarter, with All-Star defensive back Dave Grayson blocking a potential game-winning field goal late in the fourth quarter, sending the game to overtime.
After a scoreless first overtime, Tommy Brooker kicked a 25-yard field goal in the second overtime, giving the Texans their first and only AFL Championship before the move.
After playing three seasons in Dallas, owner Lamar Hunt moved his team to Kansas City before the 1963 season, re-branding the team the Chiefs.
The newly founded Chiefs would draft Bobby Bell, Ed Budde and Buck Buchanan, bringing three NFL greats who would spend their entire career in a Chiefs uniform and become synonymous with Kansas City football.
These players lined up against the Denver Broncos for the first Chiefs game in history. Kansas City won the game 59-7, jump-starting the Chiefs history in Kansas City.
1965 was far from a spectacular season for the Chiefs. While the team did post their first winning season since the move to Kansas City, the team placed only third in the division, once again missing the playoffs.
Going into the last week of the season, the Chiefs were out of contention and to make matters worse, had lost their star running back Mack Lee Hill to a knee injury.
That’s when things went from bad to worse.
While the team prepared to face the Denver Broncos to wrap up the season, word came back from Hill’s surgery that, while on the operating room table, Hill had suffered from what was called a “sudden and massive embolism” and had died.
With a team in mourning, Kansas City met the Broncos on the field at Municipal Stadium only five days after Hill‘s death. With no running game left, the Chiefs rushed for minus-one yard. Kansas City was able to overcome their emotions, though and scored 21 in the first quarter, winning the game 45-35.
Hill’s number would be retired by Kansas City in honor of their fallen teammate, and Kansas City would remember this game as a game that, while not important in the standings, carried an added and much deeper significance with the players.
The 1966 Kansas City Chiefs showcased one of the strongest defenses in football history. Led by hall of famers Bobby Bell and Buck Buchanan, the defense sent six players to the AFL All-Star game.
The defense led them to a 11-2-1 record, the Chiefs made their way to their second AFL championship and first in Kansas City.
Against the Buffalo Bills, the Chiefs were dominate on defense, stopping the conventional running attack of the Bills and holding the team to a single touchdown all game. Meanwhile, quarterback Len Dawson led the Chiefs offensive attack, putting up 31 points.
This game would send the Chiefs to the first AFL-NFL Championship Game which would be known later as Super Bowl I.
The Kansas City Chiefs-Oakland Raiders rivalry had begun early in the team’s existences, with the Texans beating the Raiders in their first game in Oakland.
The decision to move the Kansas City Athletics baseball team to Oakland only furthered this rivalry, with Kansas Citians rooting against the much hated Raiders every chance they received.
1969 saw the Raiders win the Western Division, handing the Chiefs two of their three losses on the season. After beating the New York Jets in the divisional playoff, the Chiefs would face the Raiders a third time in the AFL championship.
The Raiders scored early, putting the Chiefs on the wrong side of a 7-0 deficit before the Chiefs defense kicked it into high gear, shutting the Raiders out the rest of the game and giving Kansas City a 17-7 victory.
The win would send Kansas City to their second Super Bowl, a game they would win against the heavily favored Minnesota Vikings. Meanwhile, the Raiders would be forced to wait until 1976, further escalating the bitter feelings between the two cities.
After winning the AFL Championship against the hated Oakland Raiders, the Kansas City Chiefs met the Minnesota Vikings in Louisiana for Super Bowl IV.
The Vikings were heavily favored headed into the game, being listed as 13-point favorites. Minnesota began the game as planned, taking the ball from their own 20 all the way to the Chiefs 39 before the defense started their all out assault, forcing the Vikings to punt from the 39.
When the dust had settled, the Chiefs had come out on top 23-7. Quarterback Len Dawson was the most valuable player in the Chiefs first and only Super Bowl win.
After the great success of the late '60s, the Chiefs had begun to show their age by the mid-'70s.
Kansas City had not been to the playoffs since 1971. 1975 would see the retirement of Hall of Famers Len Dawson and Buck Buchanan and show the Chiefs finishing with a losing record for the second season in a row.
One of the few highlights of the season came on a Monday Night. The Chiefs came into Dallas, their old hometown, to face the 5-2 Dallas Cowboys.
With a national audience watching, the Chiefs were expected to lose to a Cowboys team that would finish the season 10-4 and reach the Super Bowl.
Instead, the Chiefs upset the Cowboys, barely defeating their former Dallas counterparts 34-31 in what would be one of the last highlights of Len Dawson’s great career.
The Kansas City Chiefs had been in a major rut by the time the 1981 season hit, having not had a real winning season since 1973. They opened the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a solid team that was always intimidating to face.
The Steelers led throughout most of the game when the Chiefs scored in the fourth quarter, taking a 30-26 lead. Terry Bradshaw could not let that go, though, throwing a 41-yard touchdown pass to give the Steelers the lead yet again.
With the fourth quarter nearing a close, Kansas City linebacker Tom Howard scooped up a fumble and took it 65 yards to give the Chiefs the lead again. When the clock hit zero, the scoreboard would show Kansas City leading 37-33.
This win would be the first of nine, starting off a 6-2 run for the Chiefs. Kansas City would finally be a winning team again, finishing 9-7 on the season, the first time since 1973 that they would win more than they lost.
For the first time in many seasons, the Chiefs got a taste of success in 1986. After a 3-3 start under quarterback Todd Blackledge, the Chiefs placed Bill Kenney at quarterback. He immediately guided the Chiefs to a 42-41 victory over the division rival San Diego Chargers.
The Chiefs’ playoff hopes came down to the last week with Kansas City tied with the Seattle Seahawks for second in the division. A loss would have kept the Chiefs out of the playoffs yet again, a fate that Kansas City had grown all too familiar with.
The Chiefs marched into Pittsburgh and, despite being out gained in yardage 515 to 171, Kansas City won 24-19. The Chiefs’ special teams paved the way with a blocked punt return, a field goal, a blocked field goal return and a kickoff return for a touchdown, giving the Chiefs a berth into the wildcard game.
Kenney would be injured in the fourth quarter, forcing the Chiefs to put Blackledge behind center in the 35-15 loss to the Jets, knocking them out of the playoffs.
1989 represented the first major overhaul the Kansas City Chiefs had made in their history, bringing in new head coach Marty Schottenheimer as well as a new general manager in Carl Peterson.
For most of the season, the Chiefs struggled to stay in playoff contention, finally being knocked out by the Chargers on Dec. 17. The week after, the Chiefs went up against Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins.
After only having four wins in each of the last two seasons, any improvement would be a welcome change for Kansas City.
On Dec. 24, though, the Chiefs made it even better, beating the Dolphins for their eighth win of the season, marking the first season of the Marty Schottenheimer era as a winning season. Christian Okoye added 98 yards in the game, making him the NFL rushing leader.
The Chiefs finally looked like things were going their way.
Kansas City had been in a drought in the playoffs, not winning a playoff game since their Super Bowl IV appearance. Chiefs fans had hope with the Kansas City having clinched a spot in the playoffs going into the last game of the season against the Los Angeles Raiders.
With both teams on their way to the wildcard game, the winner of this matchup would have home field advantage, meaning the two teams were playing for the rights to host the other squad.
Led by a 152-yard rushing performance by Barry Word, the Chiefs lead the whole game, winning 27-21. This would give the Chiefs home field advantage against the Raiders the next week, leading them to their first playoff win in 21 years.
With a Chiefs loss against the Giants on Dec. 20, Kansas City’s playoffs hung in the air. Schottenheimer’s team had reached the playoff the last two seasons and Chiefs fans were anxious for another chance in the 1992 season.
One final game came against the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium. After losing to the Broncos earlier in the season, this game was anything but a certainty for the Chiefs.
After trailing early in the first quarter, the Chiefs took the lead back in the second and never gave it back, trouncing all over Elway and the Broncos to the tune of 42-20.
This win propelled the Chiefs into the Wild Card Round against the Chargers.
After not winning a playoff game in a couple of seasons, the Chiefs had another shot early in 1994. Led to 11 wins by quarterback Joe Montana, Kansas City took the division and headed to the wild-card game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Chiefs trailed by a touchdown going into the fourth quarter. Running back Marcus Allen ran in for touchdown, tying the game up, before the Steelers launched a 74-yard drive to retake the lead.
With only minutes left in the game, tight end Keith Cash blocked a Pittsburgh punt and Kansas City returned it to the 9-yard line.
Montana, with a chance to tie the game, threw a touchdown on fourth down, sending the game to overtime. There, kicker Nick Lowery kicked a winning field goal, sending the Chiefs to the divisional playoff game and giving Kansas City a much needed playoff victory.
After defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wildcard game, the Chiefs advanced to face the Houston Oilers for a chance to go to the AFC Championship.
After a scoreless first half, the Chiefs managed to get on the board in the third quarter but still trailed by three. After a Houston field goal, Kansas trailed 13-7.
That is when Joe Montana showed his ability when it comes down to the wire.
A touchdown pass from Montana later, the Chiefs led by a point before Oilers quarterback Warren Moon fumbled, allowing Joe Montana to throw another touchdown pass and putting the Chiefs up 21-13.
Moon drove the ball 80 yards into Chiefs territory before throwing a touchdown pass and putting the Oilers down by only a point.
Running back Marcus Allen would be the hero of this game, though. With regulation ending, Allen ran the ball 71 yards for the touchdown, clinching the win, sending the Chiefs to the AFC Championship and giving the Chiefs the last playoff win they have experienced in franchise history.
After 1993’s playoff run, it looked like Joe Montana had little to prove to any of his doubters. He had shown that he could still lead an NFL team despite his age. There was one hurdle left.
He had to play his former team.
The 49ers came to face the former face of their organization in Kansas City early in the season. At the half, San Francisco lead 14-9.
Montana took control in the third, though, throwing for a touchdown, an extra point and getting the Chiefs into the red zone for a Marcus Allen rushing touchdown.
Montana proved his abilities that day, guiding the Chiefs to a 24-17 victory and showing his former team that he was still a great quarterback.
When the Chiefs traded for Joe Montana, they received a once great quarterback who was not the same quarterback that led the 49ers to four Super Bowl championships.
The Chiefs hoped he could bring a bit of that magic to Kansas City, and he did in 1993, taking them all the way to the AFC Championship. His most memorable game though, came in 1994.
In one of the best games in Monday Night Football history, Joe Montana led the Chiefs into Denver to play John Elway and the Broncos. It was back and forth all game, tied at seven after the first quarter, 14 at the half and 21 after three quarters.
With 4:08 left in the game, Lin Elliot kicked a field goal, putting the Chiefs up by three. Not to be outdone, Elway led the Broncos down the field, scoring on a four-yard touchdown run with only 1:29 left on the clock.
Despite having a sore shoulder, Montana took to the field, taking back the lead for the Chiefs by going 7-8 passing on the drive, throwing a touchdown pass with only eight seconds left on the clock.
The moment would go on to be remembered across the country as the day two great quarterbacks met and Montana came out on top. It will also be remembered as one of the Chiefs’ best wins.
With hall of fame quarterback Joe Montana’s retirement, the Chiefs would find themselves turning towards another former 49er, Steve Bono, in hopes that he could find the same success.
Only two games into the season, it looked like the Chiefs would be handed a loss at the hands of the New York Giants. Trailing 17-3 in the fourth, the Chiefs did not score a touchdown until the clock was down to 5:03.
Still trailing by a touchdown, the Chiefs had very little time to make anything happen.
On the next drive, Bono took the Chiefs 67 yards, capping it off with a game tying run from Marcus Allen. The game would be sent to overtime, where Lin Elliot would kick a game-winning field goal, capping a great comeback for the Chiefs.
Just a week after a come-from-behind victory, the Chiefs would need another miracle against the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders and Chiefs both came into the game with 2-0 records, and while still early in the season, this game would be very important.
Trailing 17-7 going into the fourth quarter, the Chiefs would score a touchdown on a long pass from Steve Bono and then receive a field goal from Lin Elliot to tie the game at 17 and send it to overtime for the second time in two games.
In overtime, Raiders’ quarterback Jeff Hostetler would attempt a pass, but it would get away from him and find Chiefs’ cornerback James Hasty.
Hasty would return it all the way for a touchdown, ending the game with a bang and giving Kansas City another great come from behind victory.
A national audience tuned in to see the Chiefs battle the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football on Oct. 9, 1995. For the third time in a season, the Chiefs would have a spectacular victory.
The two teams were close all game, tied at 13 at the half before each team scored 10 in the fourth quarter, sending it to overtime. Kansas City’s dominate defense did its job, forcing the Chargers to punt to Tamarick Vanover.
Vanover took the ball at the 14 and proceeded to use his speed the best he could, taking the punt all the way for an overtime victory.
The win would give the Chiefs their fifth of 13 wins they would find that year, and while the postseason would break many Chiefs’ fans hearts, the regular season provided more entertainment than any fan could hope for.
The Thanksgiving day game in Detroit is a great tradition in the NFL, and in 1996, the Chiefs found themselves there, fighting it out with the Lions.
The game was a back and forth affair with the Chiefs and Lions tied at 14 in the first half. Going into the fourth, the Chiefs trailed 21-14 when Rich Gannon threw a touchdown pass, tying the game.
The Lions marched downfield, kicking a field goal to take the lead again, and it looked like their Thanksgiving would end just the way they would have hoped.
Not to be outdone, though, the Chiefs marched downfield. As he did many times in a Chiefs uniform, Marcus Allen took the hand off on the goal line and leapt over the line, giving the Chiefs a 28-24 lead that the Lions were unable to overcome.
This would be the Chiefs ninth win of the season, marking them prime for the playoffs before a three-game losing skid would derail those dreams.
That Thanksgiving, though, will be a game that many Chiefs fans remember for quite some time.
1997 was a controversial year for the Kansas City Chiefs. While the team would win 13 games, much of the season was full of talk about the Elvis Grbac-Rich Gannon quarterback controversy.
Despite this, the Chiefs came into Week 12 with a 7-3 record, trailing only that week’s opponent, the Denver Broncos, for the division lead.
The Broncos had shutdown the Chiefs offense in Week 1, winning 19-3, an embarrassing defeat for a team that was expected to easily make the playoffs. Kansas City came into the game looking for revenge.
The Chiefs’ defense held the Broncos to a single touchdown pass, but kicker Jason Elam had a game to remember, kicking five field goals, the last of which put the Broncos up by 22-21.
With time running out, the Chiefs marched downfield to within field goal range. Pete Stoyanovich came on and kicked his only field goal of the game, a long 54-yarder to give the Chiefs a two-point victory and the win.
At the end of the regular season, the Chiefs would hold the division lead over the Broncos by a single game and, while they did lose to Denver in the playoffs, without this win, the Chiefs would have been far less likely to even compete against the Broncos, being forced to play at Mile High Stadium.
2001 marked the arrival of Dick Vermeil and a new era of football in Kansas City. Running back Priest Holmes and quarterback Trent Green joined the Chiefs, but there was little they could do to improve the team with Kansas City finishing 6-10, last in the division.
Safely out of contention when the Week 14 game against the Denver Broncos rolled around, the Chiefs were playing to save face while the Broncos were attempting to make it to the playoffs again having won 11 games the year before.
The game was a close one throughout. Going into the fourth quarter, the Chiefs led 20-17. When Denver kicker Jason Elam kicked a 36-yard field goal to tie the game up, Chiefs fans were irate.
Earlier in the game, Kansas City kicker Todd Peterson had missed a 28-yard field goal and the game seemed to be closer than it should be, even when Peterson kicked a field goal to go ahead with 5:12 left in the game.
The Broncos marched back, kicking another game tying field goal with 1:13 left, sending the game to overtime.
In overtime, the Chiefs marched to the 12-yard line and Peterson was able to redeem himself, turning himself from the laughing stock into the victor within a single game.
The win knocked the Broncos out of playoff contention and allowed the Chiefs to retain a bit of dignity from a lackluster season.
Week 5 of the 2003 season brought the hated Denver Broncos to Kansas City. At the time, both teams were undefeated, having won their first four games.
The Broncos led throughout the game, holding a 23-17 lead with eight minutes left in the game. On fourth down, Denver elected to punt the ball deep with return man Dante Hall taking in the punt on the 7-yard line.
Hall took the punt an, for the fourth time in the season, a record-tying performance, returned the punt 93 yards for a touchdown, putting the Chiefs ahead for the rest of the game.
At the end of the season, the Broncos would be three games behind the Chiefs in the standings, and one of those came courtesy of Dante Hall.
A week after Dante Hall’s game winning performance against the Denver Broncos, Kansas City would head to Lambeau Field to face the Green Bay Packers. The Packers had racked up 12 wins the seasons before and while off to a slow start on the season, were definitely still a force to be reckoned with.
Leading 31-14 in the fourth quarter, it looked like Green Bay had the game in the bag. A rushing touchdown from Priest Holmes, an interception return for a touchdown and a Chiefs field goal with 5:41 left tied the game up and after trading field goals, and the two teams headed to overtime.
The Chiefs lined up for a kick to end the game with 9:09 left in overtime, but a blocked kick gave the Packers possession on their 39-yard line. On the first play, running back Ahman Green fumbled the ball and, once again, the Chiefs had possession.
The very next play quarterback Trent Green hit wide receiver Eddie Kennison with a 51-yard pass, scoring the touchdown and giving the Chiefs a 6-0 start to the season.
Kansas City would win their first nine before finally losing to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 11. Overall, the Chiefs would get 13 wins that season and a playoff berth.
After only accumulating 10 wins combined in three seasons prior, the Chiefs were off to a great start in 2010. With a 4-2 record, Kansas City headed to play the Buffalo Bills, a winless team that seemed like an easy win for Kansas City.
It turned out to be anything but that.
At halftime, the score was a paltry 7-0 Chiefs lead. After some back and forth, the Chiefs and Bills found themselves tied at the end of regulation, headed to overtime 10-10.
Early in the overtime, the Chiefs were ready to wrap it up when Ryan Succop line up for a 39-yard field goal. With kick up, a gust of the strong Kansas City wind caught the ball, causing it to fall wide left and giving the Bills a chance for their first win of the season.
After a short drive, Bills kicker Rian Liddell lined up to kick a game winning 53-yard field goal. After his first successful attempt was called no good because of a well timed timeout from the Kansas City sideline, Liddell missed a second attempt, giving the Chiefs the ball back.
With very little time left in overtime, Succop got his second attempt, this time making a 35-yard kick despite the wind and giving the Chiefs their fifth victory of the season, keeping Kansas City at the top of the division.