MNF's Greatest Games: Kansas City-Denver 1994
By Mike Diegnan
ABC Sports Online

On Nov. 11, the Raiders and Broncos played in the 500th regular season telecast of Monday Night Football. To celebrate, we asked fans to vote for their favorite MNF game. They selected the Jets' comeback over the Dolphins in 2000. Another of the top five games took place on Oct. 17, 1994, between Joe Montana's Kansas City Chiefs and John Elway's Denver Broncos.

It was the ultimate battle between two of the game's all-time greats. NFL enthusiasts could debate for hours who was the better quarterback, John Elway or Joe Montana, and on the night of Oct. 17, 1994, they would have gotten their money's worth.

Montana, in the twilight of his career, headed to Kansas City in 1993 after losing his job in San Francisco to Steve Young. In his first season with the Chiefs, he guided them to an 11-5 record and a spot in the AFC championship game. In '94, the three-time Super Bowl MVP led K.C. to the playoffs again in what proved to be his final season.

Meanwhile, Elway entered their '94 meeting without a Super Bowl ring. Deep in the back of his mind, he could remember when Montana and Co. blew him out in Super Bowl XXIV. That night in the 55-10 rout, Montana threw five touchdown passes whereas Elway was picked off twice.

Joe Montana
Joe Montana was still magical in 1994.
Both were up to the challenge for their final showdown on Monday Night Football.

The game went back-and-forth all night with neither team gaining a true advantage. It was tied 7-7 after one quarter, 14-14 at halftime and 21-21 as they entered the fourth quarter. Neither quarterback blinked.

"Those kind of battles you get in are the fun games for a quarterback," Montana recalls. "You're going against the guy that can, you know if you let him back on the field, he'll do the same thing back to you."

The game remained tied until Lin Elliott kicked a 19-yard field goal with 4:08 to go to give the Chiefs a 24-21 lead.

Elway, who had negotiated six Broncos comebacks against the Chiefs already in his career, had the Broncos in line for another one until Shannon Sharpe fumbled on the Chiefs' 40 with just 2:45 to go.

Inexplicably, Marcus Allen handed the ball back over to Denver on the very next play.

This time, no one could deny Elway. On a classic Elway drive, he led the Broncos 39 yards on six plays, finishing it off himself with a 4-yard touchdown run to give them a 28-24 lead with just 1:29 left.

But it was more than enough time for Montana.

Even though a sore shoulder forced him to miss significant practice time during the week, the 38-year-old was near flawless in his execution of the two-minute drill, completing 7-of-8 passes as he moved them 75 yards on nine plays.

The Broncos had been given Montana the underneath throws and he worked it precisely, going perfect on the final four plays, 11 yards to Kimble Anders, 12 yards to Derrick Walker, 19 yards to Tracy Greene and then a five-yarder to Willie Davis as Davis extended his arms at the goal line before reaching the pylon for a touchdown.

"He makes a great catch, squeezes it in the end zone, and, and it was right in front of my wife and daughter who happened to be on the field," recalls Montana, who finished the night 34-for-54 for 393 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT. "She was working for one of the TV stations there, and I kind of knew in the back of my mind that it was closing in on the end of my career, and to be able to do that and have them there was pretty special."

And to make it even more special for Montana, it left just eight seconds on the clock, not even enough time for Captain Comeback to lead the Broncos one more time.

"That's how everybody feels with John," Montana says. "You can't afford to give a player that relishes being in that time of the game any time on the clock. And the best thing you can see is when it says zero, because then you know, even if he's got the ball in his hand, he can't do anything with it."

The same could be said if the ball was in Montana's hands. On that night, Denver was unable to.

Mike Diegnan is the Editor of ABC Sports Online. He can be reached at michael.diegnan@abc.com.

 
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