The last unbeaten record in the National Football League fell on Sunday as the Kansas City Chiefs were upset 24-19 by the Cincinnati Bengals, a result which revealed some serious Chiefs weaknesses as well as highlighting the remarkable strides made by the Bengals under their new coach, Marvin Lewis.
Kansas City swaggered into Ohio on the back of nine successive victories, averaging a league-high 32 points per game. The Bengals boast the worst overall record of any team in the game over the last 10 years, having failed to achieve a winning season since 1990.
If there has been a way to get it wrong, Cincinnati have managed to find it and, during the build-up to Sunday's match, it seemed they had done it again when their wide receiver, Chad Johnson, publicly guaranteed that his side would pull off an upset. Teammates were livid, but against the odds, the Bengals did it on the strength of a pair of long touchdowns from the receiver Peter Warrick, and 165 rushing yards from the punishing running back, Rudi Johnson.
The Chiefs trailed 17-6 in the fourth quarter but finally came alive when the quarterback Trent Green fired a 12-yard touchdown to Tony Gonzalez. Previous Bengals teams would have flinched, but this group is made of sterner stuff and on the very next play Jon Kitna fired a 77-yarder to Warrick, and there was no way back for the Chiefs. "I made the guarantee to draw attention to the team," Johnson said. "People don't see us. It's been 13 years of losing here. I just wanted people to know this isn't the same old Bengals." Cincinnati now have a good chance of qualifying for the play-offs, but given their history of futility not even Johnson is quite ready to go that far. "No more guarantees, none," he said.
The Carolina running back Stephen Davis is one of the game's quiet men, not the type to create headlines with boastful talk. Only those close to him understood what was at stake when he faced the Washington Redskins, the team that released him during the summer after seven years of service. Davis fumbled on his first carry against his old team, and spent much of the game on the sidelines nursing an ankle sprain. However, when Washington led with less that five minutes remaining, Davis took control, scoring from three yards out with just over a minute remaining to give his side a 20-17 victory.
"It was personal, very personal," he said afterwards. "I spent seven years of my career there, so it was very personal."
It seemed personal for the Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre as he led his side out in Tampa Bay. Favre had never won in five previous attempts at Raymond James Stadium, but both teams knew that defeat could spell the end of their prospects.
Favre opened the scoring with a touchdown pass to Tony Fisher, but the key play came with nine minutes left, when Ahman Green scored on a one-yard run to give the Packers a 20-13 triumph. The result means that Tampa Bay, last year's Super Bowl champions, now seem unlikely to qualify for the play-offs.
Seattle, St Louis, Indianapolis and Tennessee kept their hopes alive with routine wins, while the New Orleans Saints overcame a 20-3 half-time deficit to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 23-20 in overtime.
Things look bleak for the Minnesota Vikings, however. After winning their first six games, the Vikings lost their fourth in a row when they were beaten 28-18 by lowly Oakland Raiders.Reuse content