Rarely in the course of an NFL season will a game turn so quickly on just one play.
“It was unbelievable,” Kansas City coach Gunther Cunningham said.
“Huge football play,” agreed Seattle coach Mike Holmgren.
Trailing 17-7 late in the third quarter and backed up to their own 5-yard line, the Chiefs (3-2) gained 73 yards on Elvis Grbac’s completion to Derrick Alexander.
The sellout crowd of almost 79,000 roared to life. The Chiefs, who had trailed all night, scored 17 unanswered points and seized a 24-17 victory over Seattle on Monday night for their third straight come-from-behind win.
“I saw him get open. I was just hoping Elvis wouldn’t get any pressure and could throw the ball because I know he can throw it that far,” Cunningham said. “He beat a heck of a corner. When you get backed up on the 5 and come out of there and score in three plays, that’s a big momentum-turner.”
Grbac, who has led the Chiefs to three wins in a row, was 16-of-27 for 256 yards and two scores. He was not intercepted.
“There’s something in the huddle right now,” Grbac said. “Now we know if we’re down by three points or 17 points, we have the players to come back. We have the ability to come back.”
Two plays later, Alexander beat Shawn Springs for a second time on a 17-yard TD pass, giving the Chiefs a 3-play scoring drive with Grbac-to-Alexander accounting for 90 of the 95 yards.
After that, the Seahawks (2-3) never regained the momentum.
Elvis Alive and Well
“Elvis made a great throw at the corner’s head and I was able to get behind him with a great play fake I’m sure,” Alexander said.
“We needed that kind of play at that time. After we broke out and scored the TD, the crowd really got back in the game. The defense got fired up.”
Both teams had won their last two games after losing their first two.
“We gave up one big play,” Seattle safety Reggie Tongue said. “But I don’t think you can point to just one play.”
The Seahawks were in control for 2½ quarters. They took a 17-7 lead on a 27-yard field goal in the third quarter by rookie Rian Lindell, who made his first NFL start.
After Eric Hicks’ third sack of Jon Kitna forced the Seahawks to punt a few minutes later, the Chiefs drove to the Seattle 8 and Pete Stoyanovich tied it 17-all with a 27-yard field goal with 3:18 into the fourth quarter.
Then, with all the momentum belonging to the Chiefs, Dante Hall returned a punt 22 yards. And the Chiefs took their first lead of the night with 4:26 left when Mike Cloud beat Willie Williams to the end zone on a 15-yard touchdown run.
“The momentum shifted when it was going crazy,” Seattle tight end Christian Fauia said.
Penalties Come Into Play
Aided by six penalties against the Chiefs for 32 yards, the Seahawks burned nine minutes off the clock with their first possession.
Hicks, after sacking Kitna for a 10-yard loss, was flagged 15 yards for taunting. Then, a penalty against defensive tackle Dan Williams for having his hands to the face turned Seattle’s fourth-and-5 into a first down at the Chiefs 40.
On first and goal from the 1, Itula Mili got behind two defenders in the back of the end zone for a 7-0 Seattle lead.
In the second quarter, Grbac was 5-for-5 for 69 yards in an 8-play, 78-yard touchdown drive. On the 15-yard touchdown pass, the ball went through the hands of linebacker George Koonce and into the hands of tight end Tony Gonzalez.
In what almost amounted to a one-man, 75-yard drive that gave Seattle a 14-7 lead in the second quarter, rookie Shaun Alexander carried six times for 55 yards and caught an 11-yard pass. He reeled off 17-yard gains on consecutive plays and finished with a 7-yard dash into the end zone, cutting back to his right and going through a huge hole in the Chiefs’ line.
Between Hicks and his own center exchange, Kitna had trouble all night. Hicks had three sacks, increasing his season total to an AFC-leading seven. And Kitna fumbled the exchange three times, each time falling onto the ball to avoid the turnover.
“Give them credit,” Holmgren said. “It was a tough football game, a good football game.”
The Chiefs failed in their attempt to set an “on-site” NFL attendance record when only 4,391 showed up in adjacent Kauffman Stadium to watch the game on the giant video board. Combined with the sellout crowd of 78,502, the total attendance of 82,893 fell almost 8,000 short.