Pivotal Pro Football Moments
pivotal NFL postseason moment: A decision by a coach or an action by a player that establishes or changes the momentum of a playoff game.
1969: Goal-Line Stand, Dawson-Taylor Strike Doom Jets
AFL Division Playoff: Kansas City Chiefs @ New York Jets
In its last year of existence, the American Football League expanded its playoffs by hav­ing the first-place teams in the two divisions play the second-place teams in the opposite division.
That paired the 11-3 New York Jets, winners of the East Division, with the 12-2 Kansas City Chiefs, who tied the Oakland Raiders for first in the West but lost the tie-breaker. The teams met once during the season, the Chiefs winning 34-16 at Shea Stadium.
The Chiefs and Jets ranked second and third respectively in points scored, but KC rank­ed first in defense, allowing 65 fewer points than the second-place Raiders and 82 fewer than the third-place Jets.
Jets QB Joe Namath was not guaranteeing anything this time after his bold prediction of victory came true in Super Bowl III. This wasn't the same Jets team. Three stars of the Super Bowl victory were hampered by injuries. WR Don Maynard, the club's most explo­sive threat, was still trying to get over a broken foot. "The doctor will decide (the morning of the game) whether Maynard goes," said Jets coach Weeb Ewbank. G Randy Ras­mussen would start despite a sprained ankle, and DE Gerry Philbin would play with his dislocated right shoulder strapped.
Chiefs QB Len Dawson had great success in the first meeting with the Jets by throwing quickly to open receivers. WR Otis Taylor snagged seven passes for 96y while WR Gloster Richardson and TE Fred Arbanas caught four each.
Dawson had been hobbled with a bad knee against the Raiders on the final weekend of the regular season. He threw only six times and handed off an astounding 48 times in the 10-6 loss that knocked the Chiefs into second place in the West. But KC Coach Hank Stram insisted that "Dawson is greatly improved and will be at full efficiency" for the play­off game. As a result, the oddsmakers installed the Chiefs as 2 1/2 point favorites.

Len Dawson passes as DT John Elliott (80) rushes.
Defenses Prevail
The game was played on a cold, blustery 33° day that Namath called, "The worst day for passing since I came to New York." The conditions forced both quarterbacks to rely on short passes to running backs and tight ends. The result was a battle in which only one touch­down was scored, and that came in the final period.
The Jets got on the scoreboard first with a 27y field goal by Jim Turner after KC's Jan Stenerud had missed a 47-yarder. The Chiefs tied the score on Stenerud's 23y three-pointer on the first play of the second quarter.
Stenerud's 23y field goal gave the Chiefs a 6-3 lead in the third quarter.

Mike Garrett catches a pass as DB John Dockery comes up,
and KC coach Hank Stram (grey overcoat) watches.

Joe Namath passes as T Roger Finnie blocks DE Jerry Mays,
and DE Aaron Brown rushes from the other side.
Chiefs Goal Line Stand Forces Field Goal
The Jets had a great chance to score a touchdown early in the fourth quarter when a pass interference call on KC CB Emmitt Turner made it first-and-goal at the one.
As his defense lined up under their own goal post, Chiefs MLB Willie Lanier stood in the middle and called the defense for the next play. Then he added, "Dammit, they don't score!"
First down: Namath handed to All-Pro FB Matt Snell off right tackle. "I pinched in hard toward the middle," said Chiefs LE Jerry Mays. "I got me a piece of somebody, and I pushed in toward that middle. Then I saw a green jersey inch by and from the corner of my eye, I saw somebody in a white jersey stab him." The "somebody" was S Johnny Robin­son, who shed multiple blockers and body slammed Snell before he could cross the goal line. Result: A gain of a half yard.
Second down: Namath tried HB Bill Mathis at left guard. "I said this is where it hap­pens," recalled KC's massive RT Buck Buchanan. "We were all screaming and grunting and hollering, and then I saw the green jersey coming back to me, and I knew somebody had a piece of him." The "somebody" this time was Lanier with help from DT Curley Culp. Result: The ball was placed 1' from the goal line.
Third down: Namath called a play the Jets worked on all week. As the Jets broke the huddle, KC LB Bobby Bell shouted, "They can't score! They're not gonna score!" Namath faked a handoff to Maathis and rolled right trying to find Snell, who had curled out of the backfield into the end zone. But Snell was covered, and Joe was smothered by DB Jim Kearney who was quickly joined by DE Aaron Brown and LB Jim Lynch. "There was nothing he could do," said Lynch. "He had nobody to throw to and nothing to do." As Lynch drove him toward the sideline, Joe threw the ball away. Ewbank: "When we played them last time, Snell was all alone. This time they covered, and Joe had to unload."
Fourth down: Turner kicked a 7y field goal to tie the score.

Namath passes late in the game as Jerry Mays (74) eludes Roger Finney (61).
Dawson to Taylor Just Like Otis Drew It Up
The Chiefs had possession at their 20 after the touchback. The momentum from the goal line stand continued on the first play. Dawson faded back and threw toward WR Otis Tay­lor long-striding across the field from left to right. Taylor caught the ball at the NY 40, shook off DB Bill Beard, and continued to the 19 where DB Cornell Gordon and MLB Al Atkinson pulled him down after a gain of 61y.
Dawson said afterwards, "It was the same play we scored with up here during the sea­son. It's called our 88 pattern. We sent the slot man (Taylor) across the field and hope he crosses up the defense." Len added, "Otis wrote it out on the field," moving his fingers around on a bench in the locker room as Taylor had done in the dirt. "It was just like the old days back on the sandlots in Alliance OH."
"Yeh," said a smiling Taylor in his cubicle, "for once I did call the play. It's very rare. Len will usually ask me what's what. But very seldom will I suggest anything. I have too much respect for his judgment. But I saw the possibility it could work, and I told him to put me in the slot over right between the guard and the tackle. He didn't call it right away, but he came to it."
With Taylor taking a breather on the sideline, Dawson took the next snap, faded back, and finding his primary receiver, RB Mike Garrett, covered, hit WR Willie Richardson, running behind Gordon on a down and out pattern in the end zone for the first touch­down of the afternoon. Stenerud's PAT made it 13-6 Chiefs.
Dawson's throw was amazingly accurate considering the conditions. "In that corner of the stadium, the wind was really whipping the ball around," he explained. "You don't know where the ball is going. I just tried to put something on it."
The Jets had plenty of time to tie the game. They came close to scoring when a gust of wind carried a pass to WR George Sauer just beyond his reach in the end zone. "I think we would have had a better chance without the wind," said Sauer. "But I can't really gripe because it was the same wind for them."
Marsalis Intercepts
The last Jets possession reached the KC 14 on a pass interference penalty against Jim Kearney on TE Pete Lammons. After two incompletions, Namath threw into the 25-to-40 mph wind toward WR Bake Turner, but CB Jim Marsalis leaped in front of the receiver for his second pick and the Chiefs' third of the game.
Namath's miserable day ended with only 14 completions in 40 attempts. The Chiefs led in total yardage by just 276-240 but won the turnover battle four to zero.
Stram summarized the game like this: "It was a game of checkers all afternoon. The wind made it that way. All things considered, I thought both teams did good jobs. We won all year with defense, kicking, and our running game, and we did again today."