15 Degrees in Cincinnati on a typical December morning as two non-contenders in the AFC met to battle at Riverfront Stadium.
Frank Gansz led his Chiefs to the Queen City a week after getting just their 2nd win of the season against the Detroit Lions by a 27-20 mark. The Bengals under Sam Wyche came into this week 12 matchup at a 3-8 record fresh off back to back losses at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Jets.
In his fourth season in the orange and black stripes, left handed gun slinger from Maryland Boomer Esiason wasn’t having the year he wanted. After a season shortened by strike, Boomer ended the season with just 16 touchdown passes and 19 Interceptions to go along with 7 lost fumbles. However, he would save his best game for an early December matchup with the Chiefs.
Esiason took the Bengals opening drive 76 yards with a balanced running and passing attack. On 2nd and Goal from the 1 yard line, Boomer handed off to Tennessee State grad and 6th round draft pick from 1983 Larry Kinnebrew who found the end zone to put the Bengals up 7-0 in the games opening minutes.
After exchanging field goals , Boomer once again found holes in the Chiefs secondary. Esiason found a wide open Tim McGee from eight yards out to give the Bengals a 17-3 lead going into the half.
Bill Kenney who quarterbacked the Chiefs from 1980-1988, led the Chiefs on their first touchdown drive of the game. A 15 yard third down connection to wide receiver Stephone Paige set up Christian Okoye’s touchdown plunge from a yard out. Bengals 17 Chiefs 10.
Paige would have another big catch, this one from 24 yards out from Kenney cut the Bengals lead too three at 20-17.
The Bengals offense drove to the Chiefs 22 yard line and gave Jim Breech a chance to extend the lead to six. Breech’s kick was blocked by Kevin Ross who added to his block with a 65 yard return to put the Chiefs ahead 24-20.
Boomer kept the offense rolling with a touchdown drive on their next possession. Boomer found the speedy James Brooks for a 23 yard score to put the Bengals back up 27-24 with just over four minutes to play in the game. Kenney found Carlos Carson on the longest pass play of the game from thirty yards out that set up the game tying field goal from Nick Lowery from 33 yards out. Bengals 27 Chiefs 27- end of regulation.
In overtime the Bengals got possession first and didn’t waste time putting the game away. Connecting on five passes- Boomer led the Bengals to the Chiefs 15 yard line as Jim Breech booted the 32 yard game winner through the uprights to give Cincinnati the win.
Esiason threw for 368 yards and 2 scores while Kinnebrew rushed for 67 yards and his first quarter touchdown. Rodney Holman was the leading receiver for Cincinnati with 5 receptions for 90 yards. Chris Collinsworth also had 80 yards receiving with 5 catches.
The Bengals would drop their final three games of the season too the Browns, Saints and Oilers to finish the season at a disappointing 4-11 mark. The Chiefs would go 4-11 as well as the season ended with both Kansas City and Cincinnati finished tied for last in the conference.
The bad 87 campaign led to the Bengals next year of dominance that included double digit wins, an AFC Championship and a Super Bowl 23 appearance against the 49ers.
But despite the struggles of the strike season of 87, fans weren’t disappointed completely as this overtime win over Kansas City provided some spark for the Bengals and acts as this date in Bengals history.