Chiefs 31, Broncos 27
The Kansas City Chiefs gained a much-needed victory -- and greater respect for the courage of officials viewing instant replay.
Reversing a crucial fourth-down call on the field, referee Bill Leavy took a first down away from Denver near midfield with 2 minutes 1 second to play. The Chiefs, relieved of the danger of facing a final threat from the Broncos offense, ran the clock down to three seconds and danced away with a 31-27 victory.
"Sometimes it's just a lot easier for them to go with the flow of the game and not make the big reversal," said Chiefs guard Brian Waters. "I think that was a gutsy call."
The win brought the Chiefs (8-4) within one game in the AFC West of the Broncos (9-3), who had won four in a row and could have buried Kansas City in the division. Instead, the Broncos have a fight on their hands and are left with virtually no chance of overtaking unbeaten Indianapolis for the top seed in the AFC.
"This is a big win for us," said Chiefs Coach Dick Vermeil. "A big, significant win."
Mike Anderson, on fourth and one from the Denver 47-yard line, plunged into the right side of the line.
Officials on the field gave him a first down and Chiefs players went into a frenzy of protest over the spot, particularly cornerback Patrick Surtain.
"You saw me going berserk out there," said Surtain, who earlier intercepted Jake Plummer's pass from the Kansas City 4.
"I was saying, 'It's our ball, it's our ball.' "
A few minutes later, the call was reversed.
"It was clear to me he didn't reach the first down and the right thing to do was reverse it and give the ball to" Kansas City, Leavy said.
When the Broncos got the ball back, they had time for one desperate heave that fell incomplete as the Chiefs won their 17th straight home game in December.
Trent Green threw two touchdown passes and Larry Johnson rushed for 140 yards and two more scores for the Chiefs, who have won four of their last five to climb back into contention.
Plummer, who went 229 passes without an interception until the Dallas Cowboys got one last week, was also picked off by Kawika Mitchell on his first throw of the second half.