Christmas Eve-Eve Appetizers For Chiefs-Raiders

Seldom has a single game been such a crossroads for an NFL organization as the Chiefs and their Christmas Day loss in the playoffs 40 years ago Sunday.

Many members of the 1971 Chiefs have said that team was the best of the great clubs the franchise had over the last part of the 1960s and early 1970s. They were 10-3-1 on that season, finishing up the regular season with three straight victories. It would be the last division title the Chiefs would win until 1993 and the last post-season game until 1986.

The Dolphins had a matching 10-3-1 record as they came to Municipal Stadium for the Saturday afternoon game, with kickoff just after 3 o’clock. Despite the December date, the temperature was 63 degrees with a strong wind out of the southwest, gusting to 20 miles per hour.

It was a remarkable collection of football talent on the field that day, with 11 future Pro Football Hall of Famers on the field, including the two head coaches Hank Stram and Don Shula. Both starting quarterbacks would end up in the Hall, Len Dawson and Bob Griese.

The Chiefs starting lineup that day on defense was the strongest in franchise history. Along the defensive line were Marvin Upshaw, Curly Culp, Buck Buchanan and Aaron Brown. At linebacker were Bobby Bell, Willie Lanier and Jim Lynch. In the secondary it was Emmitt Thomas and Jim Marsalis on the corners with Jim Kearney and Johnny Robinson at safety.

But the star of this Christmas Day was RB Ed Podolak, as he turned in one of the finest post-season performances in the history of professional football. By the time more than 82 minutes of play was finalized, here’s what Podolak did:

  • He ran 17 times for 85 yards and a 3-yard TD run.
  • There were 8 catches for 110 yards and a 7-yard TD reception.
  • He returned two punts for just one yard.
  • On kickoffs, Podolak had three returns for 154 yards, including a 78-yard long return.

Total it up and that’s 350 combined net yards on 30 touches. Forty years later, it remains the best individual performance in postseason history.

But the Chiefs still ended up losing in double-overtime 27-24 on a 37-yard FG by Gar Yepremian of the Dolphins. The game went for 82 minutes, 40 seconds, still the longest game in pro football history.


While Podolak’s 350 yards is a post-season record, it’s only the fourth most productive day in football history. Here’s the top five regular season and playoffs:

# Player Team Opponent



1. Glyn Milburn Denver Seattle



2. Billy Cannon Houston N.Y. Titans



3. Adrian Peterson Minnesota Chicago



4. Ed Podolak Chiefs Miami



5. Keith Lincoln San Diego Boston



6. Darren Sproles San Diego Indianapolis



*-post-season games.


Once again, Raiders RB Darren McFadden is injured. In fact, he hasn’t played since the first time the Chiefs and Raiders faced off when he suffered a foot injury in the first quarter and did not return. He’s yet to get back on the field.

But against the Chiefs, the Raiders offense has always gotten more production out of Michael Bush. This guy says he enjoys running against the red and gold defense, especially when it comes at Arrowhead Stadium.

“I personally like playing in their stadium,” Bush said this week. “Their fans are always loud and against you and hostile and I love it.”

In last year’s final regular season game, the Raiders came in and ran for 209 yards and Bush contributed 137 of those yards on 25 carries with a 26-yard TD run.

Overall, in six games against the K.C. defense, Bush has run for 497 yards on 86 carries and two touchdowns. That’s an average of 14 carries and 83 yards per game.

For the Raiders to win on Saturday, they’ll need a healthy dose of Michael Bush production in their offense. For the Chiefs to win on Saturday, they’ll need to keep Bush under wraps.


On at least three different occasions during the week leading up to Saturday’s game, Romeo Crennel was asked if he hates the Oakland Raiders.

“To be honest with you I really don’t hate anybody,” Crennel said. “But I dislike the Raiders because they are a divisional opponent and they are going to try to whip me basically, and I don’t like to get beat so I’m going to put the best foot forward and I’m going to do a good job against these guys but I don’t hate the Raiders.

“I know it’s a big rivalry. I understand that. The fans they might want to hear me say I hate the Raiders. But that would be me walking down the street and you want me to say I hate this guy over here because he’s just walking down the street. That’s not the case, when you talk about hate, I think hate is a strong word and I don’t hate anybody.”

7 Responses to “Christmas Eve-Eve Appetizers For Chiefs-Raiders”

  • December 23, 2011  - johnfromfairfax says:

    It’s hard to believe that game was that long ago but I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was a matchup of two teams moving in different directions. The Chiefs stars were nearing the end of their brilliant careers and the Dolphins were young and on the rise. We had numerous chances to win the game and would have if the usually reliable HOF kicker Jan Stenerud hadn’t missed two game winning field goals if memory serves me correctly. Podolak was awesome and returned a kick that set us up to win the game but Stenerud missed the kick and ultimately the Dolphins prevailed. Their kicker, Garo Yepremian, was a tie maker and after the game made a tie for Stenerud with a ball going wide of the goal post on it. That game did start the downward spiral that wouldn’t be reversed until the late 80′s and into the 90′s. We’ve had stars but have never players with the collective talent to match that group since. The pain in my gut after that game lasted a long time but what a thrill it was to watch that team play.

  • December 23, 2011  - chewbone says:

    Believe I remember Jan saying a year ago that it was suppose to be a fake field goal. Bob probably remembers the details.

  • December 23, 2011  - Niblick says:

    The kick he missed, that was supposed to be a fake field goa,l was in overtime. He just missed the one in regulation. I don’t think he had ever missed a field goal that short until that game. I had not missed ahome game since I got season tickets in 1967 . I sold my ticket to that game because I had to to go out of town for Christmas. I watched in on television but had to miss the most famous playoff game in Chiefs history.

  • December 24, 2011  - cychief24 says:

    Will they follow that broadcast with the Lin Elliot game? Geez!
    I will NEVER understand how Stenerud made the HOF when he crapped down his leg in the 2nd biggest game of his career.
    I will never respect Stenerud, ever!

  • December 24, 2011  - Milkman says:

    It’s a shame they lost that game. I honestly believe that was the best Chiefs team ever, including the one that won it all. I remember listening to it on the radio and how at the ripe old age of 14 thinking this was the worst Christmas ever. I also remember dreaming of all the Super Bowls to come because there was no way to keep this team down for long. Now, forty years later……

  • December 24, 2011  - RW says:

    Christmas day, 1971. That one lingers in my memory more than any other game including the Superbowl appearances.

  • December 24, 2011  - Flyboy26 says:

    Christmas day is supposed to be one of the happiest days of the year, but the Chiefs’ loss on Christmas day, 1071, was the saddest day of the year for my wife and me. I’ll never forget that game and the feeling in my stomach after that loss. The silence in the stadium after Garo Yepremian’s game winning field goal was deafening. I hope a similar loss will never occur in my lifetime. Hopefully, a win today, Christmas Eve, will ease some of the pain of that loss, especially if it leads to another playoff berth.

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