KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs appeared on their way to their first defeat of the season early in the third quarter of their Nov. 3 game against the Buffalo Bills. At the very least, they were in some serious trouble.
The Bills led 10-3 and were threatening to give the Chiefs their first double-digit deficit of the season. On a third-and-goal from the Kansas City 1, Buffalo rookie quarterback Jeff Tuel made an inexplicable decision that turned the game around.
Instead of making an easy pass to Buffalo’s best wide receiver, Stevie Johnson, who was uncovered in the end zone, Tuel threw into a crowd at the goal line.
There, Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith, the player who was supposed to cover Johnson, made the interception. Smith had mostly open field on his 100-yard touchdown return that tied the game at 10-10. The Chiefs scored a touchdown on five interceptions during the season, tying for the league high.
The Chiefs would score another defensive touchdown that day, this one on an 11-yard fumble return by linebacker Tamba Hali.They would go on to extend their record to 9-0 with a 23-13 win where the scoring consisted of the two defensive touchdowns and three field goals from Ryan Succop.
The Chiefs had season lows that day in yards and first downs, but won anyway in large part because of lousy play from another opposing backup quarterback. Starting with their Oct. 6 game against the Tennessee Titans, the Chiefs faced five straight quarterbacks who began training camp as the backup. Four of those quarterbacks were installed as the starter only for that week’s game against the Chiefs.
In the case of Tuel, an undrafted rookie, he was Buffalo’s fourth-string quarterback forced into their lineup because of a series of injuries to the quarterbacks on the depth chart ahead of him.
The Chiefs’ incredible run against inferior opposing quarterbacks would end in their subsequent game against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Not coincidentally, their defensive fortunes would change, too.