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Flashback: Broncos-Chiefs, 1997 Playoffs

Posted Nov 9, 2007

Terrell Davis and the Broncos won a physical game in Kansas City in the 1997 playoffs, overcoming a large recent history of losing at Arrowhead Stadium.

flashback_071109.jpg
Darrien Gordon led the Broncos' unheralded defense with five tackles and two pass deflections in a 14-10 victory at Arrowhead Stadium. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES


Andrew Mason

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Denver vs. Kansas City
Jan. 4, 1998
Arrowhead Stadium
Weather: Overcast, 32 degrees

The Broncos thundered into the 1997 AFC Divisional Playoff game in Kansas City having already avenged a devastating 1996 playoff ousting at the hands of the Jaguars.

Denver downed Jacksonville 42-17 before rumbling into Arrowhead, a facility normally spelling gloom and doom for the men in orange and blue. The Chiefs edged them out in the regular season that year in a 24-22 thriller, perhaps a sign the Broncos were close.

They busted through the proverbial roadblock on that cool January day, dumping Kansas City in a 14-10 defensive showcase.

The AFC West rivals took the field in front of a roaring crowd of 77,000, with the Broncos seeking only their second road playoff win in franchise history.

Fans would have to wait for any sort of excitement. The Broncos crushed Marcus Allen, holding him to 12 carries for 37 yards, limiting their foes to 58 yards of total offense in the first half.

Denver finally stirred the pot late in the second quarter, stringing together an 8-play, 65-yard drive capped off with a Terrell Davis 1-yard plunge to go up 7-0.

John Elway didn't throw often in the game, finishing with just 10 completions on 19 attempts, but he partnered with Rod Smith to convert a crucial third-and-7 to the Kansas City 4-yard line before Davis hammered it home.

Chiefs Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer must've rallied his players at halftime, because they roared out from the locker room and posted a 10-spot in the third quarter, accounting for the entirety of their points.

Elvis Grbac came to life, the Chiefs moving the ball inside Denver's 10-yard line before settling for a 20-yard Pete Stoyanovich field goal.

Late in the third, the Chiefs completed a comeback of their own, Grbac finding backup tight end Tony Gonzalez in the back of the end zone for an athletic 12-yard touchdown.

Perhaps armed with memories of the previous year, the Broncos played steady, seemingly ignorant of the historical odds stacked against them. Down 10-7, the Broncos started the ensuing possession in good field position after a solid kickoff return.

Two plays later, Elway completed a 43-yard toss to Ed McCaffrey on third down to joust Denver to the 1-yard line.

After two unsuccessful attempts from close range, Davis muscled his way to his second rushing touchdown.

Elway moved into second place in postseason history for passing yards, passing Terry Bradshaw and Jim Kelly to finish the day with 3,940 career postseason yards.

The game, though, belonged to the man scoring the touchdowns. Elway handed Davis the football 25 times and Davis plowed for 101 yards and the two short scores, headlining his day with a 41-yard romp.

With 12:32 seconds left and the Broncos up 14-10, Kansas City had three more opportunities. They managed Denver's 20-yard line late in the game, but with time running out on fourth-and-2, Darrien Gordon knocked down his second pass of the day, this one in the end zone to propel Denver into the AFC Championship game.

The win continued the dream that would bloom into the Broncos' first Super Bowl title against the Green Bay Packers and a wild celebration back in Denver.

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STARTING LINEUPS
DENVER OFFENSE DENVER DEFENSE

WR - 80 Rod Smith
LT - 65 Gary Zimmerman
LG - 69 Mark Schlereth
C - 66 Tom Nalen
RG - 75 Brian Habib
RT - 77 Tony Jones
TE - 84 Shannon Sharpe
WR - 87 Ed McCaffrey
QB - 7 John Elway
RB - 30 Terrell Davis
FB - 29 Howard Griffith

LE - 90 Neil Smith
LT - 94 Keith Traylor
RT - 98 Maa Tanuvasa
RE - 91 Alfred Williams
WLB - 51 John Mobley
MLB - 57 Allen Aldridge
SLB - 53 Bill Romanowki
LCB - 39 Ray Crockett
RCB - 23 Darrien Gordon
FS - 27 Steve Atwater
SS - 34 Tyrone Braxton

KANSAS CITY OFFENSE KANSAS CITY DEFENSE

SE - 89 Andre Rison
LT - 69 Jeff Criswell
LG - 79 Dave Szott
C - 61 Tim Grunhard
RG - 68 Will Shields
RT - 62 Glenn Parker
TE - 48 Ted Popson
FL - 80 Lake Dawson
QB - 11 Elvis Grbac
FB - 38 Kimble Anders
HB - 27 Greg Hill

LT - 99 Vaughn Booker
RT - 75 Joe Phillips
RE - 92 Dan Williams
LLB - 58 Derrick Thomas
ILB - 53 Wayne Simmons
MLB - 59 Donnie Edwards
RLB - 50 Anthony Davis
LCB - 34 Dale Carter
RCB - 40 James Hasty
SS - 25 Reggie Tongue
FS - 21 Jerome Woods

SCORING SUMMARY
1
2
3
4
TOTAL
DENVER
0
7
0
7
14
KANSAS CITY
0
0
10
0
10

SCORING PLAYS
SECOND QUARTER
DENVER Terrell Davis 1-yard run (Jason Elam kick) 1:56
THIRD QUARTER
KANSAS CITY Pete Stoyanovich 20-yard field goal 9:42
KANSAS CITY Tony Gonzalez 12-yard pass from Elvis Grbac (Pete Stoyanovich kick) 0:10
FOURTH QUARTER
DENVER Terrell Davis 1-yard run (Jason Elam kick) 12:32

FINAL TEAM STATISTICS
KANSAS CITY DENVER
Total Net Yards 303 272
Net Rushing Yards 77 109
Net Passing Yards 226 163
Total First Downs 18 16
Third Down Efficiency 5-15-33% 5-11-45%
Time of Possession 31:06 28:54

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