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Tuesday, October 21, 2003
K.C. stays yard shy of disaster


OAKLAND, Calif. -- Jerome Woods and Greg Wesley got the Kansas City Chiefs' last chance to do something right on defense in the fourth quarter -- and they didn't let Tim Brown move a step.

Their game-saving gang tackle at the Kansas City goal line ended a 17-10 victory over the Raiders on Monday night -- and not even the Chiefs' saviors could explain exactly how they stopped Oakland's fourth-quarter roll and remained undefeated.

"It seems like we're just getting all the breaks this season," Woods said.

The two safeties' last grasp was the breathtaking climax to a fourth quarter in which the Chiefs allowed three lengthy drives by a backup quarterback and more than twice as many yards as they had given up in the first three.

But thanks to a solid start and Phillip Buchanon's muffed punt return that set up their final touchdown, the Chiefs (7-0) emerged from the hostile Coliseum with their perfect record a bit smudged, but still intact.

"If they'd had one more play, we'd probably still be out there playing this game," tight end Tony Gonzalez said.

If Brown had stayed in the end zone instead of stepping back over the goal line to catch Marques Tuiasosopo's pass, Oakland probably would have completed an unbelievable comeback in the final 8:06. Instead, Woods and Wesley broke off their assignments to converge on Brown, then swarmed all over him as the clock reached 0:00.

Just for good measure, cornerback Eric Warfield grabbed the ball to make sure it couldn't be spotted again.

"We've just got to keep teams down when we get them down," said Warfield, who intercepted Rich Gannon's pass in the first half. "That's part of becoming a great team. We've got to keep executing and working hard, even when it seems like we've won."

Kansas City's defense dominated the first three quarters, allowing just 114 yards of offense and knocking the ineffective Gannon out of the game with a shoulder injury.

Then the Chiefs inexplicably went on their heels. Tuiasosopo rallied Oakland to an 80-yard drive ending in a field goal, a 65-yard touchdown march -- and then an amazing 93-yard drive in the final 1:47. Oakland rolled to 243 yards in the fourth, actually finishing the game with more total yards than the Chiefs.

Last weekend, the Chiefs demonstrated the same fourth-quarter tenacity shown by the Raiders. Kansas City rallied from a 17-point deficit to tie Green Bay before winning it in overtime on Trent Green's 51-yard TD pass to Eddie Kennison.

"We know how to finish," Woods said. "This is a tough environment. We're just glad to get out of here."

The Raiders' first three quarters were a dismal failure on offense, but their defense was moderately effective -- and their special teams succeeded in keeping the ball away from Dante Hall, who has become the NFL's most dangerous kick returner this season.

Hall was able to return just two of Shane Lechler's six punts. Hall also had a 25-yard kickoff return, but Oakland contained him.

"It was really frustrating, but if they don't kick to me, that's usually going to mean good things for us," Hall said. "It's becoming a big thing, though. We're so concerned with where they're going to kick it, now we're at a point where we don't even know what we're going to do when we do get it."

But when asked if the Chiefs need work on their finishes, Kansas City's big-play specialist disagreed.

"We'll be fine," Hall said. "We're still only halfway through the season."