I wouldn’t blame fans of the Kansas City Chiefs if they are getting bored with EA Sports’ “Madden NFL.”
The offense they get to watch performs like the best gamer going against the computer on Rookie mode. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes plays like the 99-overall player we all create when we get bored with fair competition. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill’s speed can’t truly be copied virtually — at least not without making him the biggest cheat code in sports video game history.
But even in this era of high-scoring offenses, most of the Madden-like box scores in Chiefs history happened before Mahomes and Hill arrived. Since it’s Video Games Week at SBNation, I looked at some Chiefs performances that had record-keepers double-checking their math — and newspapers wondering if they made typos in their recaps.
1961 — Abner Haynes vs. Oakland Raiders
Stat line: 16 touches, 242 total yards and five touchdowns
Before the Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders became true rivals, the Dallas Texans went 5-1 against the silver and black from 1960 to 1962. The most lopsided of those victories happened in Dallas when the Texans whupped the Raiders 43-11.
Most of the highlights came from second-year running back Abner Haynes. He hauled in a 66-yard touchdown reception early in the game to extend the lead to 14-0. He then added scoring runs of 33 and 27 yards to finish off the blowout. He averaged 15.13 yards every time he touched the ball. His five touchdowns gave him the team record for most points scored in a single game — which he held for more than 50 years.
1985 — Stephone Paige vs. San Diego Chargers
Stat line: 8 receptions, 309 receiving yards and two touchdown catches
A disappointing 1985 campaign was coming to an end as the 5-10 Chiefs hosted the 8-7 San Diego Chargers for the season finale. Third-year wide receiver Stephone Paige had good outings in previous weeks— but nothing like what he did to the Chargers secondary that day.
It started early with a 56-yard touchdown catch to give the Chiefs an early 7-0 advantage. As the Chiefs lengthened their lead before halftime when they found Paige again for an 84-yard score. The Chargers got back in the game late in the second half — but Paige’s big plays kept the lead secure. He finished with an average of 38.6 yards per reception, leading Kansas City to a 38-34 win.
Paige’s 309 receiving yards that day is the third-most by any player in NFL history.
1990 — Derrick Thomas vs. Seattle Seahawks
Stat line: Seven sacks (current single-game NFL record)
In the second year of his legendary career, pass rusher Derrick Thomas was suffering as close to a cold streak as a player of his talent could have. In the three-game span leading into this Week 10 game, he had only one sack.
But the semi-drought ended quickly. Thomas brought down Seattle Seahawks quarterback Dave Krieg twice in the first half. In the third quarter, his third sack of the game turned into a fumble recovered by Dan Saleaumua for a touchdown that gave the Chiefs a 16-10 lead.
The Chiefs still held that lead at the the last play of the game — but by then, Thomas had accumulated seven sacks. It looked like he would get his eighth when he got his hands on Krieg again — but the Seahawks quarterback got away, throwing a game-winning touchdown pass.
After the game, Thomas still couldn’t believe it. From The New York TImes:
“I thought I had him. He just stumbled back and caught his balance and threw the pass. That last sack I didn’t get is the one I’m going to remember.”
2002 — Priest Holmes at Seattle Seahawks
Stat line: 30 touches, 307 total yards and three touchdowns
Even before his record-breaking 2003 season, running back Priest Holmes was one of the league’s best picks for a fantasy football roster — thanks to games like this one.
The Chiefs would lose the 39-32 shootout against Seattle — but Holmes gained 10 yards per touch over 30 opportunities. He set a career record for receiving yards in a game with 110. His nine carries of 10 or more yards is still second all-time in team history.
2004 — Chiefs backfield vs. Atlanta Falcons
Stat line: 49 rushes, 271 rushing yards and eight touchdowns
The 1-4 Chiefs were not inspiring confidence in 2004. They had a tough test at home when the 5-1 Atlanta Falcons arrived with a league-leading rushing attack and phenom quarterback Michael Vick.
But the roles were quickly reversed in 56-10 Chiefs victory. By halftime, Kansas City held a 35-3 lead that included four Priest Holmes touchdown runs. In the second half, the dominant Chiefs offensive line plowed through the Falcons defense so much so that even backup running back Derrick Blaylock accumulated four touchdowns.
That day’s performance is still the Chiefs’ single-game record for first downs — and the second-most points scored in a game. The team’s eight rushing touchdowns is still an NFL record.
2013 — Jamaal Charles at Oakland Raiders
Stat line: 16 touches, 215 total yards and five touchdowns
A 56-31 blowout of a hated division rival is always fun — but it’s even better when your team’s best player has an historic performance.
On the first play from scrimmage, running back Jamaal Charles took a screen pass 49-yards to the end zone. On the next possession, Charles turned a third-and-long into a 39-yard score with another screen. By halftime, the Chiefs had gotten their best playmaker two more scores from yet another 16-yard screen pass and a one-yard rush.
With Oakland catching up on the scoreboard in the third quarter, Charles delivered the final blow with a 71-yard catch-and-run that gave him his fifth touchdown of the game.
A few other video game-like performances in Charles’ career:
- 2009 at Denver Broncos: 25 carries, 256 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
- 2012 at New Orleans Saints: 39 touches, 288 total yards and a 91-yard rushing touchdown.
- 2012 vs. Indianapolis Colts: 22 carries, 226 rushing yards and an 86-yard rushing touchdown.
2018 — Patrick Mahomes at Pittsburgh Steelers
Stat line: 23/28 passing, 344 total yards, six passing touchdowns, no turnovers and a 154.8 passer rating
As great a player as Mahomes has been over his two years as an NFL starter, his best single-game performance may have been in the third start of his career.
In Week 2 of 2018, Mahomes went into Heinz Field and outscored an explosive Pittsburgh Steelers offense to earn a 42-37 win. His completion percentage of 82% is still a career-high for a game he finished. Since then, he’s only reached six touchdown passes just once — but against the Steelers, he had no turnovers. As you recall, he had five turnovers in his other six-touchdown game against the Los Angeles Rams in 2018.
The 154.8 passer rating remains a career-high for Mahomes — and he made it look as easy as playing your younger sibling in Madden.