Remembering Opening Day: 1989

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 10, 1989 @ Mile High Stadium, Denver, Co.

There was so much anticipation and hope in the air. No Chiefs fan was sure what to expect in the first game of the new era led by GM Carl Peterson and head coach Marty Schottenheimer. So much wrong had gone down in the previous 15 years, what few Chiefs fans were left took a wait and see attitude.

The wait to see the first game of that 1989 season looked like many that had come before for the Chiefs. They fell behind early, trailing 3-0 on a David Treadwell 41-yard field goal on the Broncos first possession. When the Chiefs got the ball for the first time, QB Steve DeBerg’s pass was intercepted by S Tyrone Braxton who returned it 34 yards for a touchdown. Denver was up 10-0.

After the kickoff, on the next offensive play, DeBerg fumbled the snap, the Broncos recovered at the Chiefs eight-yard line and it took only four plays before Sammy Winder scored on a two-yard run. Denver was now leading 17-0 and there was still 6:30 to play in the first quarter.

The look on the faces of Peterson and other front-office staff in the Mile High Press Box was a combination of shock and bewilderment. VP Tim Connolly, who made a habit of keeping a giant bottle of ant-acids in his briefcase was throwing down Tums by the handful.

The Chiefs got themselves back in the game, scoring the next 13 points, to trail 17-13 about halfway through the third quarter. RB Kenny Gamble scored on a one-yard run, and K Nick Lowery kicked 41 and 23-yard field goals.

Later, DeBerg threw a touchdown pass for the Chiefs, as he connected on a five-yard pass with WR Carlos Carson. But not long after hitting that score, DeBerg threw another interception that was returned for a touchdown by S Randy Robbins.

When it was all over, the Broncos won 34-20 and the new era of Chiefs football began with a thud. There were plenty of long faces on the flight home. The new regime understood it was going to be hard work, but that opening day at Mile High proved a reminder that 15 years of losing wasn’t going to be changed in a single game. But it also didn’t take Schottenheimer long to get the team headed in the right direction. The Chiefs finished 8-7-1 and had Lowery made just one of the three field goals he missed in Cleveland, that first Peterson/Schottenheimer team would have made the playoffs.

CHIEFS-BRONCOS/Sunday, September 10, 1989

Kansas City        0    10    3    7    –    20

Denver         17    0    7    10    –    34

Team Statistics



First Downs



Total Yards






Net Passing Yards






Sacks Allowed






Time of Possession



  • Leading Rushers: Chiefs – Herman Heard 9-27 yards; Broncos – Sammy Winder 11-38 yards.
  • Leading Receivers: Chiefs – WR Emile Harry 4-69 yards; Broncos – RB Jeff Alexander 3-35 yards.
  • Leading Passer: Chiefs – Steve DeBerg 21 of 34 for 250 yards; Broncos – John Elway 16 of 28 for 150 yards.

One Response to “Remembering Opening Day: 1989”

  • September 10, 2010  - Jimbo says:

    Hard to believe this was one of your favorites Bob.
    Go Chiefs.

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