Remembering Opening Day: 1984

Over the next few days as a lead up to the 2010 Chiefs season opener, we are going to remember some of the more memorable first games for the red and gold over the last 30 seasons. These are openers that I’ve seen first-hand over the past three decades. Here’s one of my favorites.

Sunday, September 2, 1984 @ Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pa.

This was the second year of the John Mackovic Era and his passing offense had elevated Bill Kenney to a 4,000-yard plus passer in the 1983 season. But in the final pre-season game of ’84 against the New England Patriots, Kenney suffered a broken right thumb when it hit a helmet during a pass. He would end up spending five weeks on the injured-reserve list.

Into the starting role came second-year man Todd Blackledge (left). Selected in the first round of the 1983 NFL Draft, Blackledge was part of what would go down as one of the most remarkable first-round QB drafts in history. In the end, Blackledge would be the least successful of those six quarterbacks. Three of those guys are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame – John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.

The Chiefs went to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers for opening day. This was not the dynasty Steelers of the 1970s. There were a few guys with four Super Bowl rings left, topped by WR John Stallworth. In fact Stallworth and fellow receiver rookie Louis Lipps were the stars of the game, combining for 14 catches for 350 yards and three touchdowns.

The guy that Stallworth, Lipps and QB David Woodley picked on that day was a rookie cornerback named Kevin Ross. Playing in his first NFL game, Ross was beaten time and time again, especially by Lipps who finished with 183 yards.

Despite those problems and the 419 passing yards Pittsburgh racked up, the Chiefs controlled the game. They led 7-3 at the end of the first quarter and then 24-17 at half-time. It was the third quarter when the Chiefs put the game away, scoring 13 points, topped by Blackledge’s only touchdown pass of the game, throwing 22 yards to WR Stephone Paige. Earlier, Blackledge had scored on a one-yard run, while RB Theotis Brown added scoring runs of three and six yards. K Nick Lowery booted through field goals of 37, 47 and 47 yards.

Although they were torched for all those passing yards, the Chiefs defense played a big part in the game. FS Deron Cherry and LB Charles Jackson had interceptions, they recovered two fumbles and the pass rush racked up five sacks from LB Calvin Daniels, DE Mike Bell, DE Art Still, DT Bill Maas and DT Ken Kremer.

In the end, it was a 37-27 victory for the Chiefs in what many thought was the start of the Todd Blackledge Era, especially when they picked up another victory on the road the next weekend against Cincinnati. Eventually, Kenney returned to the starting lineup and the Chiefs finished 8-8 on the season.

And that rookie cornerback who got torched? After the game, Ross stood in the visitors’ locker room at Three Rivers Stadium and promised that what happened that day would never happen again. The next week against the Bengals, Ross broke the jaw of WR Isaac Curtis and went on to a remarkable career with the Chiefs.

CHIEFS-STEELERS/Sunday, September 2, 1984

Kansas City        7    17    13    0    –    37

Pittsburgh         3    14    3    7    –    27

Team Statistics



First Downs



Total Yards






Net Passing Yards






Sacks Allowed






Time of Possession



  • Leading Rushers: Chiefs – Theotis Brown 17-58 yards; Steelers – Frank Pollard 11-28 yards.
  • Leading Receivers: Chiefs – WR Carlos Carson 4-37 yards; Steelers – WR Louis Lipps 6-183 yards.
  • Leading Passer: Chiefs – Todd Blackledge 19 of 36 for 170 yards; Steelers – Mark Malone 11 of 24 for 233 yards.

4 Responses to “Remembering Opening Day: 1984”

  • September 9, 2010  - johnfromfairfax says:

    Thanks for the memories Bob. I remember that game and certainly remember Rock. He was a tough, tough guy and part of a great defensive backfield the Chiefs put together. Here’s hoping we have another in the making.

  • September 9, 2010  - brent says:

    I loved Rock Ross obviously, as you can tell by my nickname. He would absolutely blow up a player once a week. Too bad they didn’t have the “jacked up” segment on NFL Primetime then (or even the show Prime Time back then), or Rock Ross would have been a weekly contributor. He was one tough sob and a fierce competitor. He wasn’t overly talented, but he made himself into a Pro Bowler through hard work!

  • September 9, 2010  - brent says:

    Oh well, my user name is RockRoss31Fan, but that isn’t what showed up as my display name. Sorry about that, it was my first response on Bob’s website.

  • September 9, 2010  - Enrique says:


    You can change your user name if you want. Just hit your name in the “Logged in as…” part and type your user name, so you can display it if that’s what you wish.

Get the Flash Player to see the slideshow.


Other News