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It's a Return Engagement for Chiefs

September 15, 2003|From Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The stumbling, bumbling Kansas City Chiefs could do nothing right.

Then Dante Hall uncorked a 100-yard kickoff return -- which an official mistakenly tried to nullify -- and the Chiefs could hardly do wrong, rolling to a 41-20 victory Sunday over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Priest Holmes, showing again that off-season surgery did nothing to slow the NFL's 2002 offensive player of the year, rushed for 122 yards and three touchdowns as the Chiefs (2-0) scored on offense, defense and special teams.

"Dante's return was the biggest play of the game for us," guard Brian Waters said. "Easily. Our offense wasn't doing anything. The defense was doing their best. But, man, when that play happened it just turned the whole game around."

Hall's return, the longest for the Chiefs in almost 36 years, came immediately after the Steelers (1-1) had taken a 10-0 first-quarter lead.

Hall fielded Jeff Reed's kickoff at the goal line, cut left and sped virtually untouched up the sideline. Reed, the last Steeler between him and the end zone, flicked out his foot in an obvious attempt to trip Hall, who stumbled, regained his balance and kept going to score.

A yellow flag flew, and referee Larry Nemmers brought a groan from the crowd when he announced the touchdown was nullified by a tripping penalty.

But as the Chiefs screamed in disbelief, Nemmers huddled with other officials and reversed himself, giving Hall his fourth touchdown return in less than two years.

"I wasn't worried, because I knew the guy tried to trip me and they would get together and get it right," said Hall, who had a 45-yard punt return in the fourth quarter that led to Holmes' four-yard scoring run and a 34-20 lead.

Holmes capped the scoring with a 31-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

The Chiefs' revamped defense recovered a fumble and intercepted three passes from Tommy Maddox, who'd been nearly flawless the week before against Baltimore.

That's not the way things started. The first six times the Chiefs touched the ball, they had two penalties, four yards rushing, one incompletion and allowed a touchdown on Chad Scott's 26-yard interception return.

A few minutes after Scott's score, Maddox hit Hines Ward for a 50-yard gain to the Kansas City seven that set up Reed's 20-yard field goal.

After Hall's return, the Steelers went up 17-7 when Maddox, following James Farrior's interception, connected with Plaxico Burress on a 33-yard scoring strike.

Then, it was all Kansas City.

"We came back from some real adversity against a real good football team," Chief Coach Dick Vermeil said. "No one's going to put us on top, but I think we took a giant step today."

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