1990 Kansas City Chiefs Season
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1990 Kansas City Chiefs Season

1990 Kansas City Chiefs season
Head coachMarty Schottenheimer
Home fieldArrowhead Stadium
Division place2nd AFC West
Playoff finishLost Wild Card Playoffs (Dolphins) 16-17
Pro BowlersLB Derrick Thomas
CB Kevin Ross
CB Albert Lewis
K Nick Lowery

The 1990 Kansas City Chiefs season was the franchise's 21st season in the National Football League, the 38th as the Kansas City Chiefs and the 31st overall. The team improved from an 8-7-1 record to an 11-5 record and Wild Card spot in the 1991 playoffs. In Marty Schottenheimer's first playoff appearance with the Chiefs, they lost to the Miami Dolphins 17-16 in the Wild Card round. Starting with the home opener, the Chiefs began an NFL-record eighteen consecutive seasons with every home game sold out. The streak was finally broken in the final home game of the 2009 Kansas City Chiefs season versus Cleveland.

Season Notes

The success of the 1989 season carried into 1990, and the Chiefs put together a successful season to return to the playoffs for only the second time since 1971. The season began on August 4 when Buck Buchanan, a key ingredient of the Chiefs' 1969 Super Bowl championship season was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

On opening day, The Chiefs beat the Minnesota Vikings 24-21. On September 17, Stephone Paige catches 10 passes for 206 yards, but the Chiefs still lost to the Denver Broncos, 24-23 on Monday Night Football.

On October 14, Barry Word rushes for a team-record 200 yards against the Detroit Lions at Arrowhead. Kansas City won 43-24 to give the Chiefs a 4-2 record. Word would eventually gain 1,021 yards rushing for the season while Paige caught 65 passes for 1,021 yards. Quarterback Steve DeBerg had his best season ever as a Chief as he passed for 3,444 yards and 23 touchdowns.

On November 11, Derrick Thomas who would sack 20 quarterbacks for the year, sacked Seattle Seahawks quarterback Dave Krieg an NFL-record seven sacks. On the game's last play, Derrick nearly had his 8th sack, but Krieg eluded him and threw a game-winning touchdown as the Seahawks won 17-16. Derrick Thomas later said himself that, "The thing I most remember about that game, is the sack I didn't get, that's the one that still haunts me." The great Derrick Thomas' record of seven sacks in one game is now seen as one of NFL's most "unbreakable records".

On December 9, the Chiefs had two big fourth-down calls and scored two touchdowns. Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer let his team make two big plays that ultimately led to Kansas City's 31-20 win over the Denver Broncos, which clinched a playoff spot.

The first big play was a fourth-and-goal at the Denver 1-yard line, and Barry Word carried the ball into the end zone to give the Chiefs a 17-13 lead. The second fourth-down attempt resulted in a 27-yard touchdown pass from Steve DeBerg to Robb Thomas and put the game away in the fourth quarter. DeBerg passed for 254 yards and three touchdowns in the game. Kansas City trailed 13-10 at the half but scored 21 second-half points to take control of the game.

The win improved their record to 9-4 and control of the AFC West Race. However, the next week the Chiefs lost to Houston, putting the Raiders Back into First place. The Chiefs won their next game at San Diego to Clinch an AFC playoff spot. The Chiefs then defeated the Chicago Bears 21-19 to finish 11-5, the team's best record since 1971. The Raiders held onto first winning in the final week. Defense carried the Chiefs to the playoffs thanks to Pro Bowlers Derrick Thomas, Albert Lewis and Kevin Ross.

Next was the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Wild-Card Playoff Game, a game they would lead 16-3 only to go on to lose, 17-16. Kicker Nick Lowery Missed a 52-yard FG in the final seconds that would have won the game.


NFL draft

1990 Kansas City Chiefs draft
Round Pick Player Position College Notes
1 13 Percy Snow  Linebacker Michigan State
2 40 Tim Grunhard *  Center Notre Dame
4 96 Fred Jones  Wide receiver Grambling State
5 124 Derrick Graham  Guard Appalachian State
5 127 Ken Hackemack  Offensive tackle Texas
6 152 Tom Sims  Defensive tackle Pittsburgh
7 180 Dave Szott *  Guard Penn State
9 235 Michael Owens  Running back Syracuse
10 263 Craig Hudson  Tight end Wisconsin
11 291 Ernest Thompson  Running back Georgia Southern
12 318 Tony Jeffery  Wide receiver San Jose State
      Made roster    *   Made at least one Pro Bowl during career


Undrafted free agents

1990 Undrafted Free Agents of note
Player Position College
Bryan Barker Punter Santa Clara




Regular season


Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
1 September 9, 1990 Minnesota Vikings W 24-21
2 September 17, 1990 at Denver Broncos L 24-23
3 September 23, 1990 at Green Bay Packers W 17-3
4 September 30, 1990 Cleveland Browns W 34-0
5 October 7, 1990 at Indianapolis Colts L 23-19
6 October 14, 1990 Detroit Lions W 43-24
7 October 21, 1990 at Seattle Seahawks L 19-7
8 Bye
9 November 4, 1990 Los Angeles Raiders W 9-7
10 November 11, 1990 Seattle Seahawks L 17-16
11 November 18, 1990 San Diego Chargers W 27-10
12 November 25, 1990 at Los Angeles Raiders W 27-24
13 December 2, 1990 at New England Patriots W 37-7
14 December 9, 1990 Denver Broncos W 31-20
15 December 16, 1990 Houston Oilers L 27-10
16 December 23, 1990 at San Diego Chargers W 24-21
17 December 29, 1990 at Chicago Bears W 21-10


AFC West
(2)Los Angeles Raiders 12 4 0 .750 6-2 9-3 337 268 W5
(5)Kansas City Chiefs 11 5 0 .688 5-3 7-5 369 257 W2
Seattle Seahawks 9 7 0 .563 4-4 7-5 306 286 W2
San Diego Chargers 6 10 0 .375 2-6 5-9 315 281 L3
Denver Broncos 5 11 0 .313 3-5 4-8 331 374 W1


In a scene that would be repeated throughout the 1990s the Chiefs had a great regular season but failed miserably in the post-season. In the Wild-card playoff game the Chiefs blew a 16-3 lead as the Dolphins scored 2 touchdowns to take a lead. The Chiefs had one last-chance for a win but Christian Okoye's long run was called back due to a questionable holding call. Nick Lowery who would score 139 points all season and a Pro Bowl berth missed a 52-yard field goal and with it the end of a great Chiefs season.

Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
Wildcard January 5, 1991 at Miami Dolphins L 17-16

AFC Wild Card Game

With 2:28 left in the game, the Dolphins capped an 85-yard drive with quarterback Dan Marino's winning 12-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Mark Clayton.


  1. ^ "1990 Kansas City Chiefs draftees". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2014.

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