The Kansas City players had heard about the bitter Chiefs-Raiders rivalry, but most of them had never seen it.
That all changed during the week leading up to Sunday’s 108th meeting between the teams as coach Andy Reid dusted off some out old game film of Chiefs-Raiders games from the 1960s, ’70s and ’90s, when this was one of pro football’s hallowed rivalries.
“We broke out some old Emmitt Thomas tape and showed them what it was all about,” Reid said, referring to the Chiefs Hall of Fame cornerback and current secondary coach.
The Chiefs also took pages out of both Hank Stram’s and Marty Schottenheimer’s game plans in whipping Oakland 24-7 and snapping the Raiders’ six-game winning streak at Arrowhead Stadium.
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Those teams of old emphasized game-changing defense, spectacular special teams and just enough offense to win — and that’s what the Chiefs did on Sunday.
On defense, the Chiefs rolled up 10 sacks — the most in a game since 10 in the 1998 opener against Oakland at Arrowhead — with outside linebacker Tamba Hali (3 1/2 sacks) playing the role of a 1990s-era Derrick Thomas, and middle linebacker Derrick Johnson (nine tackles, two sacks) resembling a modern-day Willie Lanier.
The Chiefs’ secondary did Emmitt Thomas proud, as the defensive backs intercepted a season-most three passes, including a 44-yard return for a touchdown by Husain Abdullah. Punter Dustin Colquitt’s performance — 42.3 net yards on eight punts, with four inside the 20 — conjured up memories of Jerrel “Thunderfoot” Wilson.
And the offense, while not earth-shattering, did just enough to take advantage of the field position and turnovers to win.
Did someone say Martyball?
“A lot of guys haven’t been around this Raiders-Chiefs rivalry,” said Hali, “so coach showed how the old-school guys played. They played the game reckless, and he wanted us to keep that alive and remember, it still is a rivalry.”
Reid saved the best video for last, when he showed Emmitt Thomas intercepting two passes against the Raiders in the 17-7 win in the 1969 AFL championship game that sent the Chiefs to Super Bowl IV.
“He showed how intense Coach Emmitt was, and how aggressive those guys played,” said free safety Kendrick Lewis. “That kind of sparked us … it brought back memories. We knew what kind of game this was.
“That’s all we saw … highlights of Emmitt and those guys competing against Oakland. It showed what this game meant to this team and to his organization.”
Interceptions by Thomas’ defensive backs were responsible for 17 of the Chiefs’ 24 points. Safety Quintin Demps’ third interception in as many weeks set up a third-quarter touchdown run by Jamaal Charles, Marcus Cooper’s second interception in two weeks set up a Ryan Succop field goal, and the piece de resistance was Abdullah’s pick-six with 1:35 to play.
The Chiefs also benefited from a familiar Achilles’ heel that Schottenheimer loved to capitalize on in his domination of the Raiders during the 1990s — penalties. Schottenheimer used to preach how if the Chiefs could keep it close, the Raiders eventually would self-destruct.
Sure enough, with the Chiefs trailing 7-0 with 1:16 left in the first half, Alex Smith’s pass on third and 10 from the Oakland 24 that was intended for Dwayne Bowe was incomplete but rookie cornerback DJ Hayden was called for interference at the Oakland 7. It took just one play for Jamaal Charles to score the game-tying touchdown from the 7 just before halftime.
In all, the Raiders were penalized 11 times for 68 yards. Six of the penalties could be attributed to Guinness world-record crowd noise generated by the crowd of 76,394.
“Our fans were crazy, and that’s what we live for,” Lewis said. “It was our 12th man, it was our extra man on defense. So many false start penalties, so many delay of games, in a big game like that, that counts and we give full credit to our fans.”
Just like the days of old against the Raiders.