KANSAS CITY — Joe Montana, sharper than he has looked in more than a month, is giving the Kansas City Chiefs renewed hope.
Montana, sidelined for two weeks because of an injured left foot, threw two touchdown passes and the Chiefs defeated Houston, 31-9, on Sunday.
Kansas City remained in the playoff chase while sending the dispirited Oilers to their 11th consecutive loss.
The Chiefs (8-7) ended their three-game losing streak. They can still claim a wild-card berth by defeating the Raiders at the Coliseum next Saturday.
"Everything felt fine," Montana said. "It was a little tender. But once you get out there and move around, it's all right."
Kansas City's victory, coupled with New England's 41-17 victory over Buffalo, officially eliminated the Bills, who lost the last four Super Bowls. Last season, Buffalo beat the Chiefs in the AFC championship game.
The Oilers (1-14), who won 11 consecutive games last season to reach the playoffs, committed five turnovers. Houston is assured of at least tying for the worst record this year; Washington and Cincinnati are 2-13.
Houston finishes next week at home against the New York Jets.
The Chiefs led, 7-3, at halftime.
"You could tell they really didn't want to be out there, and all they were doing was going through the motions," wide receiver J.J. Birden said of the Oilers. "At halftime we just said let's go out there and get it done and get out of here."
Montana connected with Derrick Walker on a 10-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and slipped a 25-yarder between two defenders to Lake Dawson in the third.
"I was actually trying to hit the tight end," Montana said with a laugh, adding it was his fault the ball was closer to Dawson.
"Lake likes the ball. He going to catch it whenever he can."
Montana wound up completing 16 of 26 passes for 235 yards, bringing his career total to 40,337 and passing Johnny Unitas for fourth on the career passing chart.
Rookie fullback Donnell Bennett scored on a 12-yard run to put the Chiefs on top, 21-3, late in the third quarter.
The Oilers got a 48-yard field goal from Al Del Greco late in the first period and a 20-yard scoring pass from Billy Joe Tolliver to a wide-open Haywood Jeffires in the fourth. The Oilers missed on a two-point conversion pass.
Lorenzo White, whose fumble on Houston's first play last week led to a Seattle score in a 16-14 loss to the Seahawks, fumbled on the fifth play at the Oilers' 29.
Five plays later, Montana connected with Walker over the middle.
Bennett, a second-round pick out of Miami, broke three tackles in his 12-yard scoring run. He was taken away in a cart late in the fourth period because of a knee injury.
Midway through the fourth period, Montana and Dawson hooked up on a 50-yard pass play to the Oiler 14 that set up Lin Elliott's 21-yard field goal and a 24-9 lead.
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\o7 Joe Montana moved into fourth place in the NFL career passing yardage list Sunday. The top 10: \f7
Player Yrs Yds Fran Tarkenton 18 47,003 *Dan Marino 12 44,888 Dan Fouts 15 43,040 *Joe Montana 16 40,337 Johnny Unitas 18 40,239 *Warren Moon 11 37,949 *John Elway 12 37,736 Jim Hart 19 34,665 Steve DeBerg 17 33,872 John Hadl 16 33,513