Hall Scores Another TD in Chiefs’ Win
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Dante Hall has the Kansas City Chiefs off and running to their best start in history.
Hall switched directions three times on a record-tying 93-yard punt return with 8:20 left Sunday as the Chiefs defeated the Denver Broncos 24-23 in a game that matched unbeaten AFC West rivals.
Hall extended his NFL record of returning a kick for a touchdown to four straight games, and equaled the season record for kick returns for scores.
The Chiefs are 5-0 for the first time, while the Broncos dropped to 4-1.
With the Chiefs trailing 23-17, the 5-foot-8 Hall put on a dazzling display of speed. Just minutes after getting the wind knocked out of him on a 41-yard return, Hall took the punt on the 7 and went left, then right, turned and went backward before bearing left and racing to the end zone.
``He’s a human highlight reel,″ Chiefs defensive end Eric Hicks said. ``He’s like Michael Jordan. It’s ridiculous. The play he made, really nobody was blocked on the initial part of the play. My God, I’ve never seen anything like that in my life.″
With 11 regular-season games left, Hall has already tied the NFL’s single-season record for touchdown returns.
``I was beside myself, I was so excited for him,″ head coach Dick Vermeil said. ``I said to myself, `Oh, Dante, don’t go backwards.‴
The Broncos (4-1) had never trailed when Micah Knorr punted to Hall with a little more than 8 minutes left.
When he started running backward, he feared he might be about to get tackled for a safety and be guilty of a colossal error.
``I thought, `Oh, I’ve got to get out of this jam,‴ Hall said with a laugh.
But the Chiefs didn’t have a return set up. By the time he finally got outside, there were plenty of blockers to clear the way.
``The first part of that return was not smart at all,″ Hall said. ``I caught it maybe on the 8, then I retreated back to the 5, then the 2. I got dumber and dumber and dumber.″
Hall began his streak with a 100-yard kickoff return against Pittsburgh, then had a 73-yard punt return against Houston and followed with a 97-yard kickoff return for a score against Baltimore.
The Broncos had a first-and-goal from the 4-yard line late in the third period, but three runs netted only 2 yards and Jason Elam kicked his third field goal, a 21-yarder for a 23-17 lead.
On the third play of the third quarter, Clinton Portis broke through a big hole on the right side and ran 65 yards for Denver’s longest run in almost three years, putting the Broncos on top 20-10.
Then Trent Green, who hadn’t completed a pass to a wide receiver all day, hit Eddie Kennison for 12 yards to launch a 5-play, 77-yard drive that pulled Kansas City to 20-17. After Priest Holmes picked up 22 yards on a run and 6 on a shovel pass, Johnnie Morton beat Deltha O’Neal in the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown catch.
With great execution of a trick play, the Broncos took a 7-0 lead on their second possession. Wide receiver Rod Smith took a handoff, then pulled up and heaved the ball to Portis, who was left uncovered down the middle and ran 72 yards to the 8.
Two plays later, Plummer hit Dwayne Carswell on a 6-yard TD pass.
O’Neal muffed a punt later in the period and Gary Stills recovered for the Chiefs on the Denver 25. On third down from the 20, Green threw a jump ball into the end zone and 6-4 Tony Gonzalez easily outleaped 5-11 safety Nick Ferguson for the touchdown.
Priest Holmes appeared to throw a 5-yard scoring pass to Kennison in the corner of the end zone in the second quarter. But the call was reversed upon review and Morten Andersen kicked a 23-yard field goal, drawing Kansas City even at 10 after Elam had kicked a 48-yarder for Denver.
O’Neal appeared to have a 64-yard punt return for a touchdown. But the play was called back by a holding call on Donnie Spragan, who got a blistering tongue-lashing from a furious Frank Bush, Denver’s special teams coach who scattered papers all over the Denver sideline in his rage.
On the final play of the half, Elam made it 13-10 with a 29-yarder.