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Big Play Dante key for Chiefs

Posted 9-15-03

by CK Rairden
Landmark columnist

Big Play—Dante.

Say it with me—it’s got a nice ring to it. Big Play—Dante.

This game had disaster written all over it. The Chiefs had done nothing right early and were lucky to be trailing only 10-0 in only 5 short minutes of game time. The crowd was down, and the team was struggling. The Steelers kicked off after a 20-yard FG. Big Play—Dante hauled in the kick at the goal line made a nice cut up the left hash—making the first guy miss, then followed some tremendous blocking up the sideline. Big Play—Dante was kicked in the shins near midfield by Steeler kicker Jeff Reed, stumbled a bit, then regained his balance and sprinted into the end zone.

A disastrous start was reversed right there.


—To reiterate his game-breaking status, Big-Play—Dante took the first punt of the 2nd half at the Chiefs 48-yard line broke 2 tackles and raced down the sideline with a 45-yard punt return to set up a 1st and goal from the 7-yard line.

—Two plays later Priest Holmes would put the Chiefs up 34-20 with a 4-yard TD run.

—Big Play Dante would finish the game with 229 all-purpose yards.


—Did someone kidnap Al Saunders and replace him with Paul Hackett for the most of the first quarter? It was almost as if he was afraid to attack the Steelers D.

—After falling behind 17-7 and with some questionable offensive strategy behind him, the real Al arrived and called a great game.

—Two interceptions in the first quarter by Trent Green would have crushed the QB two years ago. He would have folded in 2001, but with two seasons as a starter under his belt Green turned what would have been a bunch of questions into a gutsy QB performance where he obviously didn’t have his “A-game” and proved that that will do whatever it takes to help his team win.

—And the team also bounced back with a vengeance. After the second interception led to another Steelers TD, KC trailed 17-7. The Chiefs offense, defense and special teams collected themselves and outscored the Steelers 34-3 the rest of the way, destroying the Steelers in every phase of the game.

—QB Trent Green has matured into a tremendous leader in both the mental aspect of the game and in his physical toughness. After a horrid start of 2 for 7 with 2 interceptions, Green completed 13 of his next 15 with no interceptions and a TD.

—He also threw a nice block on a pass play to Holmes against 6’5" 300 pound Steelers DE Aaron Smith. The play went nowhere, but it amplified Green’s physical toughness.


—For those not paying attention, that was only NT Ryan Sims eighth game of his NFL career. He’s already playing like a man among boys.

—And—as clearly stated before, he is the key to this defense.

—Chiefs fans meet your new number one corner, #22 Dexter McCleon. His tip on the attempted pass to Pitt WR Antwaan Randle El landed perfectly in the hands of safety Jerome Woods, who scored his 1st career TD.

—McCleon’s play while filling in for injured corner William Bartee has been more than adequate, and has earned him the starting job, and he is playing better than any Chiefs corner right now.

—This was a good game for the defense regardless of the yardage statistics. They gave up only 3 points in the second half despite the fact that Pittsburgh was desperate to score on each possession.

—Four takeaways, and relentless pressure finally wore down the Steelers, as the vaunted Pittsburgh offense scored only one TD, and that was on a short field after the second Chiefs interception.


—Didn’t LB Shawn Barber come over with the reputation of a big play ball hawk? He proved that Sunday. His third and goal interception 2-yards deep in the endzone kept the Chiefs two TD’s ahead and seemed to be the play that finally broke Steelers QB Tommy Maddox.

—And didn’t it look like Holmes had an off day? Once you looked up, Holmes plays through the pain of bruised ribs and has a 128 total yards and 3 TD’s. He is still the best player in the NFL.

—His last TD run of 31-yards was vintage Holmes. He patiently waited for a crease to open at the line of scrimmage, cut through then embarrassed two Pittsburgh defensive backs at the five-yard line with a timely cut.

—The X-Man Johnny Morten and his starting counterpart Eddie Kennison finally look like NFL starting WR’s. Both made big catches when the Chiefs needed them keeping drives alive.

—That led to three straight TD’s, two on long drives of 72 and 86 yards after the second interception tossed by Green.

—This was an all-around team victory, offense, defense and special teams. Oh, except for that Morten Anderson guy—did he really miss a PAT?


The Arrowhead mystique is back. Trailing early and often, this team not only didn’t panic, but regrouped and buried a very good Pittsburgh team. This team now has playmakers nearly everywhere. The Chiefs favorable schedule begins to kick in next week as they visit Houston.

It’s the first of two road games before a showdown with Denver at Arrowhead in week five but this team can’t look past anyone, and focus will be the order this week for the coaching staff and the players.

(CK Rairden can be reached by email at