Mile High leaves Montana low

December 13, 1993|By Nick Larson | Nick Larson,Knight-Ridder News Service

DENVER -- He's 4-for-4 in Super Bowls, but he's 0-for-3 at Mile High Stadium.

The legend himself, Joe Montana, can afford to buy almost anything in the world his heart desires with the zillions he has made from the San Francisco 49ers, and now, the Kansas City Chiefs. But no matter what uniform he's wearing, he still can't buy a win in Denver.

His Sunday figures in a 27-21 loss to the Broncos -- 17 of 30, 237 yards and two touchdowns -- were decent stats for most pro football quarterbacks. But they weren't good enough to rally the Chiefs, who led 14-3 early, wound up being outscored 17-7 in the final half and fell to 9-4.

Denver's rally killed the Chiefs' hopes of their first victory in Denver since 1982. That translates to 11 straight times Kansas ++ City has lost a road game to its AFC West rival.

Kansas City's early 14-3 advantage easily could have been 21-3 -- a lead that would have altered both teams' strategy -- had the Chiefs been able to take advantage of Charles Mincy's interception of a John Elway pass.

With great field position at the Broncos' 30, Kansas City seemed poised to score its third touchdown, but a 4-yard pickup by Kimble Anders and two in complete Montana passes preceded a 44-yard missed field goal by usually reliable Nick Lowery.

Denver's late second-quarter drive that netted a touchdown, and whittled the Kansas City advantage to 14-3, left Chiefs players, particularly Montana, bemoaning what might have been.

"We should have gotten points out of that," Montana said. "We had a great chance to go up 21-3, which would have changed things completely.

"A lot of things could have happened there, but it's still all my fault. I had enough time to take another hitch in my delivery. I should have waited about another half-second and I would have had time for a few completions."

In the game's final minutes, with Denver ahead 27-21, Montana had a chance to work some Elway-like comeback magic, but had no timeouts to work with. He marched his team only 26 yards, and his final three passes fell incomplete.

Montana praised the play of Denver's defense for not allowing him and his teammates the chance to move the ball any better.

"There were very few spots to throw the ball against that defense,"Montana said. "We couldn't find a way to get 5 yards, even though we had a lot of time. We couldn't get it done and we couldn't make the plays.

"The second half, Denver didn't change its defense all that much. We had been expecting a blitz, and nothing they did surprised us.

"Offensively, we had our ups and downs. We made some mistakes, and we found out we couldn't afford some of them and still hope to beat a team like Denver. I just wish we could have gotten that third touchdown in the first half, because if we're up 21-3, it would have changed the course of the game."

The course of the game was changed drastically in the fourth quarter when Denver's Reggie Rivers blocked a punt by Bryan Barker to set up Elway's third touchdown pass of the day to Shannon Sharpe.

"At halftime, everybody in our locker room was saying, 'Let's finish it,' " said Chiefs' defensive end Neil Smith, "then we go out and that blocked punt changes everything."

Added coach Marty Schottenheimer, now 0-7 in Mile High Stadium: "Clearly the blocked punt was the main problem. That was the one thing we couldn't overcome."

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