The 90s, undoubtedly, brought about many changes to the Kansas City Chiefs franchise. The team had struggled through the 80s with only one playoff appearance throughout the entire decade.

In 1989, the seeds of success were firmly planted when Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt brought in Carl Peterson to the the GM. Subsequently, Marty Schottenheimer was hired as coach and a linebacker from Alabama named Derrick Thomas was drafted.

The Chiefs eventually became the third winningest franchise of the 90s (with a record of 102-58) with six straight playoff appearances, three division titles, and a trip to the AFC Championship game in 1993.

Top 10 Chiefs games of the 90s

10. Derrick Thomas’ seven-sack game (1990)

On November 11, 1990 the Chiefs hosted the 3-5 Seahawks in a key AFC West battle. History would unfold before a sun-drenched crowd at Arrowhead Stadium as linebacker Derrick Thomas would break the NFL record for sacks in a game with seven.

Unfortunately, it was the one that he didn’t get that would sink the Chiefs as Seahawks quarterback Dave Krieg would complete a Hail Mary as time expired to give the Seahawks the improbable 17-16 win although the Chiefs would finish the season 6-1 to earn a playoff bid for the first time since 1986.

9. Chiefs edge eventual Super Bowl Champion Packers (1996).

1996 would wind up ending with a thud as the team missed the playoffs for the first time since 1989 after collapsing down the stretch. The Chiefs did start 4-0 that year and were in the thick of the AFC playoff picture when 8-1 Green Bay came to town on November 10th.

The Chiefs continued their proud history of overwhelming NFC opponents at Arrowhead stadium behind a 94-yard, three touchdown performance by running back Greg Hill. No, the Sports Illustrated prediction of a Chiefs/Packers Super Bowl did not come to be, but the Chiefs settled for the consolation prize of upsetting the eventual champs.

8. Chiefs complete trifecta over the Raiders (1991)

The Chiefs dominance over the Raiders in the 90s is well documented but few rivalries could ever complete with what these teams went through in 1991. The Chiefs knocked off the Raiders, first, at Arrowhead stadium that season before beating them again in Los Angeles during the last regular season game of the year.

As a result, Kansas City would host its first ever playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium the very next week. The opponent? You guessed it, the Los Angeles Raiders. The Chiefs defense terrorized rookie quarterback Todd Marinovich in a game he still talks about to this day. Marinovich threw FOUR interceptions as the Chiefs escaped this defensive battle 10-6 with its first playoff win since winning Super Bowl IV 21 years earlier.

7. 44-9ers (1997)

The 49ers of the 90s were a complete juggernaut and the 1997 team came to a soggy Arrowhead on November 30th boasting the league’s best record at 11-1. The Chiefs would turn in a performance for the ages on this day as Derrick Thomas and a suffocating KC defense would completely destroy Steve Young and the 9ers. The game was a complete whitewash as the Chiefs dominated every facet of the game, which ended in a 44-9 victory.

Steve Young would say after the game: ”This is as loud as it gets in the N.F.L. It makes your offense a little sluggish because you can’t get off the ball.”

6. Vanover saves the day on Monday Night Football (1995)

The 1995 season will forever be remembered for one of the most magical regular seasons in team history. The Chiefs finished 13-3 which was, at the time, the best record in franchise history. In the first four weeks of the season, the Chiefs had already played in and won two overtime games (against the Raiders and Giants).

On October 9th, the defending AFC Champion San Diego rolled into Arrowhead Stadium for a Monday Night showdown for the ages. This hotly contested AFC West showdown would go to overtime and after each team possessed the ball (to no avail) Chiefs rookie Tamarick Vanover would return a punt 86 yards as Arrowhead Stadium exploded in jubilation.

This game is still noted as one of the great Monday Night Football games in NFL history and the legend of Tamarick Vanover was born on that glorious October night in Kansas City.

5. Montana’s Revenge (1994)

In 1993, the San Francisco 49ers famously traded away former four-time Super Bowl champion Joe Montana to the Chiefs after Steve Young emerged as the franchise’s next big thing. Montana’s career in KC would only last two years, but in 1994 the Chiefs hosted the eventual Super Bowl Champion 49ers in a game Montana desperately wanted to win after being snubbed in San Fran. Many considered this game a potential Super Bowl preview at the time.

Montana would throw two touchdown passes and Derrick Thomas would add three sacks (including one that went for a safety) as the Chiefs edged the 49ers 24-17. Montana’s NFL career would come to an end after a playoff loss to Miami later that season but his heroics during this key victory will always be remembered in KC.

4. Pete Stoyanovich connects from 54 (1997)

With the AFC West hanging in the balance, the Denver Broncos came to Kansas City on a cold November afternoon in hopes of turning the division race in their favor. The game would go back and forth, like many Chiefs/Broncos games would during the 90s, but the Broncos led 22-21 late in the game with time very much an issue.

The Chiefs offense, led by Rich Gannon, did all it could to get the ball to the 37 yard line of Denver with four ticks left on the clock. Pete Stoyanovich would drill a 54-yard field goal into a slight wind which would cause Arrowhead Stadium to absolutely erupt with delight. The Chiefs would win the division although, in the end, it would be the Broncos getting the last laugh with a playoff win in Kansas City and a Super Bowl victory.

3. A Monday Night Miracle (1994)

Back to 1994 we go for one of the most memorable regular season wins in Chiefs history. Up to this point, neither head coach Marty Schottenheimer, nor Joe Montana himself had ever won a game at Mile High Stadium. What unfolded that night was a truly epic showdown featuring two of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

In what would be one of Montana’s final stands of his famed career, Montana drove the Chiefs with surgical precision down the field with only 1:22 to go. With 13 seconds remaining, Montana hit Willie Davis for the five yard game-winner which silenced Mile High Stadium while sending Chiefs fans back home into a riotous frenzy.

2. Oh baby what a play! (1994 playoffs)

With only one playoff victory since 1970 to their names, the Chiefs sought out veteran leadership going in to the 1993 season. Joe Montana and Marcus Allen were added in the offseason and the result was an AFC West title and a Wildcard Playoff game against the salty steelers in the first round.

Montana showcased familiar heroics as he hit receiver Tim Barnett for a game-tying touchdown late in the game. After missing a game-winning field goal attempt in regulation, kicker Nick Lowry connected from 32 yards to win the game and send the Chiefs to the divisional round.

1. Houston, we have a winner

Following the epic win over Pittsburgh, the Chiefs headed to play the 1-seed Houston Oilers, a team that had already beaten the Chiefs earlier in the season. Oilers linebacker Lamar Lathon claimed that Joe Montana would never finish the game insinuating that the Houston defense would knock him out with an injury.

The Chiefs offense was largely ineffective early and Houston built a 10-0 lead. A touchdown pass to tight end Keith Cash ( a play in which he threw the ball straight into a sign of Budd Ryan) ignited the team and, with the help of Montana’s 300 yard passing day and a 20-yard touchdown from Marcus Allen, the Chiefs vanquished the favored Oilers in route to the franchise’s last playoff win of the 90s and final AFC Championship game appearance until 2018.

Ultimately, Kansas City would fall short of a Super Bowl appearance during the 90s but these moments certainly stand the test of time.

Honorable Mentions

  • 1998- Chiefs/Raiders Monday Night Football (Grbac to Rison)
  • 1992- Chiefs secure playoff spot during last game of the season with route of Denver.
  • 1990- To much noise. John Elway refuses to snap the ball until the Arrowhead crowd quiets down.
  • 1995- James Hasty returns a fumble against the Raiders to give the Chiefs an overtime win.
  • 1993- Chiefs bludgeon eventual Super Bowl champion Bills 23-7 at home.
Avatar of Clint Switzer

By Clint Switzer

Full-time sports fan, part-time contributor to society. GASN Sports co-founder, podcast host, filmmaker and writer.

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