2003 Kansas City Chiefs season

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2003 Kansas City Chiefs season
Kansas City Chiefs wordmark.svg
OwnerLamar Hunt
Head coachDick Vermeil
General managerCarl Peterson
Home fieldArrowhead Stadium
Division place1st AFC West
Playoff finishLost Divisional Playoffs (vs. Colts) 31–38
Pro BowlersQB Trent Green
RB Priest Holmes
FB Tony Richardson
TE Tony Gonzalez
OT Willie Roaf
G Will Shields
S Jerome Woods
KR Dante Hall
ST Gary Stills

The 2003 Kansas City Chiefs season was the franchise's 34th season in the National Football League, the 44th overall and the third under head coach Dick Vermeil.

The season resulted in a 13–3 winning record, beginning with a nine-game winning streak—the franchise's best start in their 40-year history. The Chiefs won the AFC West and clinched the second seed in the playoffs to end a five-season playoff drought. Kansas City lost in an offensive shootout at home in the AFC Divisional Playoffs to the Indianapolis Colts 38–31, a game noted for involving no punts from either team's kicking squad.

The season is best remembered for the Chiefs' record-breaking offense. On December 28, running back Priest Holmes broke Marshall Faulk's single-season rushing touchdown record by scoring his 27th rushing touchdown against the Chicago Bears. Quarterback Trent Green threw for 4,000 yards and kick returner Dante Hall returned four kicks for touchdowns. However, the Chiefs' defense would prove to be too big a weakness, as they failed to stop the Colts in the 2003-04 playoffs. The Chiefs offensive line from the season has frequently been considered one of the best offensive lines in NFL history. Two members of the offensive line, Will Shields and Willie Roaf, have been inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame along with the tight end from the team, Tony Gonzalez.

2003 NFL Draft[edit]

The Chiefs originally had the 16th pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. Vermeil was intent on selecting a defensive player, but felt that there were no defensive players available with their pick, and traded the pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for the 27th pick, as well as the Steelers third and sixth-round picks.[1] With the 27th overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs selected running back Larry Johnson from Penn State.[2]

Round Selection Overall Player Position College
1 27 27 Larry Johnson Running back Penn State
2 15 47 Kawika Mitchell Linebacker South Florida
3 28 92 Julian Battle Defensive back Tennessee
4 16 113 Brett Williams Offensive tackle Florida State
5 18 153 Jordan Black Offensive tackle Notre Dame
6 16 189 Jimmy Wilkerson Defensive end Oklahoma
7 16 230 Montique Sharpe Defensive tackle Wake Forest
7 38 252 Willie Pile Linebacker Virginia Tech


2003 Kansas City Chiefs final roster

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen


Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists

Practice squad

Rookies in italics


Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue Recap
HOF August 4 vs. Green Bay Packers W 9–0 1–0 Fawcett Stadium (Canton) Recap
1 August 9 San Francisco 49ers L 6–24 1–1 Arrowhead Stadium Recap
2 August 16 Minnesota Vikings W 26–16 2–1 Arrowhead Stadium Recap
3 August 23 at Seattle Seahawks L 31–42 2–2 Seahawks Stadium Recap
4 August 28 at St. Louis Rams W 22–6 3–2 Edward Jones Dome Recap

Regular season[edit]

After beginning the 2003 season 9–0, the Chiefs finished the regular season with a record of 13–3. The Chiefs' offense topped the NFL in almost all statistical categories and Kansas City became favorites to win Super Bowl XXXVIII.[3]

The Chiefs clinched their first AFC West title since 1997 with a 45–17 win against the Detroit Lions, as QB Trent Green became the first player in team history to register a "perfect" 158.3 passer rating in a game.[4]

Kansas City concluded its 13–3 regular season with a 31–3 victory vs. Chicago (December 28), marking a perfect 8–0 a record at home and the club's 13th consecutive regular-season victory at Arrowhead Stadium. In that win, Priest Holmes set a trio of TD records. He finished the season with 27 rushing scores, establishing NFL single-season records for both rushing TDs and total TDs. Holmes (61) also bypassed WR Otis Taylor (60) for the most career TDs scored by a player in Chiefs history.[4]

The Chief's five-win improvement from the previous season tied as the best mark in franchise history. Kansas City became the first AFC team to lead the NFL in scoring in consecutive seasons since San Diego in 1981–1982 as the club produced a franchise-best 484 points. The team also led the NFL with a +19 turnover differential.[4]

Nine Chiefs players received Pro Bowl recognition, the third-highest total in team history, while the club's six offensive Pro Bowlers marked the most in club annals.[4]


Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue Recap
1 September 7 San Diego Chargers W 27–14 1–0 Arrowhead Stadium Recap
2 September 14 Pittsburgh Steelers W 41–20 2–0 Arrowhead Stadium Recap
3 September 21 at Houston Texans W 42–14 3–0 Reliant Stadium Recap
4 September 28 at Baltimore Ravens W 17–10 4–0 M&T Bank Stadium Recap
5 October 5 Denver Broncos W 24–23 5–0 Arrowhead Stadium Recap
6 October 12 at Green Bay Packers W 40–34 (OT) 6–0 Lambeau Field Recap
7 October 20 at Oakland Raiders W 17–10 7–0 Network Associates Coliseum Recap
8 October 26 Buffalo Bills W 38–5 8–0 Arrowhead Stadium Recap
9 Bye
10 November 9 Cleveland Browns W 41–20 9–0 Arrowhead Stadium Recap
11 November 16 at Cincinnati Bengals L 19–24 9–1 Paul Brown Stadium Recap
12 November 23 Oakland Raiders W 27–24 10–1 Arrowhead Stadium Recap
13 November 30 at San Diego Chargers W 28–24 11–1 Qualcomm Stadium Recap
14 December 7 at Denver Broncos L 27–45 11–2 Invesco Field at Mile High Recap
15 December 14 Detroit Lions W 45–17 12–2 Arrowhead Stadium Recap
16 December 20 at Minnesota Vikings L 20–45 12–3 Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome Recap
17 December 28 Chicago Bears W 31–3 13–3 Arrowhead Stadium Recap

Note: Intra-division opponents are in bold text.

Game summaries[edit]

Week 1 vs. San Diego Chargers[edit]

The Chiefs hosted San Diego and raced to a 24-0 lead behind two Priest Holmes rushing scores and a Trent Green touchdown to Johnnie Morton. Drew Brees of the Chargers was intercepted twice in the 27-14 Chiefs win.

Week 2 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers[edit]

The Steelers scored first on a Chad Scott interception, but after leading 10-0 Pittsburgh was torched by Dante Hall’s 100-yard kick return score. Priest Holmes ran in three touchdowns while Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox was intercepted three times in a 41-20 Chiefs win.

Week 3 at Houston Texans[edit]

The Chiefs made their first trip to Houston since September 1996, now playing in Reliant Stadium next door to the Astrodome. Kansas City’s aggregate winning streak against Houston NFL teams reached five as Houston was hammered 42-14 despite two Trent Green interceptions. The Chiefs rushed for 168 yards and three touchdowns.

Week 4 at Baltimore Ravens[edit]

The Ravens held the Chiefs to 265 yards of offense and out-rushed them 202 yards (Jamal Lewis accounted for 115 yards and the tying touchdown in the final six minutes) to 129, but Dante Hall raced in the winning score (17-10 Chiefs) on the kickoff following Lewis’ score and Kyle Boller was intercepted at the Chiefs 2-yard line in the final minute. Ex-Raven Priest Holmes had 25 touches (22 carries and four catches) for a combined 103 yards.

Week 5 vs. Denver Broncos[edit]

Dante Hall’s signature touchdown came in the fourth quarter with the 4-0 Chiefs trailing 23-17 against the 4-0 Broncos. In the final nine minutes, he caught a punt, was chased back to his three-yard line, then cut left, and stormed past the Denver punt coverage unit to score. Jason Elam missed a Broncos field goal attempt but Priest Holmes fumbled at the Broncos eight-yard line. Jake Plummer advanced the Broncos to their 28 but went no further.

The Chief's 24-23 win came despite being outgained in yardage 468-262 and despite two turnovers to one by Denver.

Week 6 at Green Bay Packers[edit]

This edition of the rematch series from the first AFL-NFL World Championship Game became one of the most competitive games of the season. The Packers raced to a 14-0 lead before two Trent Green touchdowns tied the game. The Packers scored seventeen straight points in the second and third quarters but early in the fourth Priest Holmes scored. Brett Favre was then intercepted by Jerome Woods at the Chiefs 21 and Woods scored. Exchanges of field goals (Morten Anderson’s 31-yard kick came with one second left) left the game tied 31-31. The Chiefs in overtime called eight straight Holmes rushes before trying a 48-yard field goal; the kick was blocked by Cletidus Hunt. On the Packers possession Ahman Green was immediately stopped by Woods and Woods forced the fumble recovered at the Chiefs 49; Trent Green then unloaded deep to Eddie Kennison and Kennison scored, thus ending a 40-34 Chiefs triumph.

Week 7[edit]

Kansas City Chiefs (6-0) at Oakland Raiders (2-4)
1 234Total
• Chiefs 7 307 17
Raiders 0 0010 10


Week 8 vs. Buffalo Bills[edit]

Despite 124 rushing yards from Travis Henry and getting a safety on a Kansas City punt, the Bills were humiliated 38-5. Drew Bledsoe was intercepted three times and Alex Van Pelt two more while Trent Green had two touchdowns and 273 yards.

Week 9 - Bye week[edit]

Week 10 vs. Cleveland Browns[edit]

Trent Green had 368 yards and three touchdowns, Priest Holmes added two scores on the ground, and the Browns were limited to 199 yards of offense in a 41-20 Chiefs win.

Week 11 at Cincinnati Bengals[edit]

An undefeated season (attending Miami’s overtime win over the Ravens members of the 1972 Dolphins kept a close watch on this game) would not transpire as the Bengals surged to their fifth win, fulfilling a pregame prediction by Chad Johnson (seven catches, 74 yards) of a Bengals win. Jon Kitna’s 77-yard strike to Peter Warrick effectively ended the 24-19 Bengals upset despite a late Trent Green score.

Week 12 vs. Oakland Raiders[edit]

The 3-7 Raiders refused to go quietly as they erased a 21-7 Chiefs lead. Jerry Rice scored for the first time all season but the Chiefs broke a 24-24 tie on Morten Anderson’s field goal with four seconds left.

Week 13 at San Diego Chargers[edit]

The Chiefs reached eleven wins leading wire to wire at Qualcomm Stadium despite two Trent Green interceptions to go with two Green touchdowns. Priest Holmes exploded to 162 rushing yards and two scores.

Week 14 at Denver Broncos[edit]

The Chiefs suffered their second loss of the season 45-27. The game lead tied or changed six times in the first three quarters but after taking a 24-21 lead the Broncos added 21 more points. Clinton Portis ran in five touchdowns for Denver.

Week 15 vs. Detroit Lions[edit]

The 4-9 Lions were crushed 45-17 as Trent Green threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns while Priest Holmes added three scores of his own. It was Steve Mariucci’s only career loss to the Chiefs. This is Detroit's most recent visit to Kansas City, and the Lions are not scheduled to return until 2023.

Week 16 at Minnesota Vikings[edit]

Having clinched the AFC West the Chiefs were vying for a playoff bye. The top conference seed slipped away in this Saturday game as the Vikings forced four Chiefs turnovers, raced to a 31-0 lead, and didn’t look back despite a three-touchdown barrage by 10:05 to go in the fourth. Despite the 45-20 loss, the Chiefs gained for a bye on Denver’s win over the Colts the next day.

Week 17 vs. Chicago Bears[edit]

With New England’s shutout win over the Bills the previous day the Chiefs could only secure a playoff bye as the second conference seed. They did so 31-3 on three rushing scores while the 7-9 Bears used three quarterbacks who combined for two interceptions.



Round Date Opponent Result Record Venue Recap
Wild Card First-round bye
Divisional January 11, 2004 Indianapolis Colts (3) L 31–38 0–1 Arrowhead Stadium Recap

Game summaries[edit]

AFC Divisional Playoffs: (3) Indianapolis Colts at (2) Kansas City Chiefs
1 2 34Total
Colts 14 7 10738
Chiefs 3 7 14731

at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri

This offensive shootout became the second game without a punt in NFL playoff history, and first since the Buffalo Bills played the San Francisco 49ers in 1992. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns, while Edgerrin James ran for a career postseason high 125 yards and two scores. On the Kansas City side, Dante Hall caught a touchdown and returned a kickoff for another; and Priest Holmes, who set the regular-season rushing touchdown record, rushed for 176 yards, caught 5 passes for 32 yards, and scored twice. Kansas City quarterback Trent Green threw for 212 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for 18 yards in his first career postseason game. The Chiefs defense failed to stop the Colt's offense. Kansas City's defensive coordinator Greg Robinson was asked to resign the following week.

  • Scoring
    • IND – Stokley 29 pass from Manning (Vanderjagt kick)
    • KC – FG Andersen 22
    • IND – James 11 run (Vanderjagt kick)
    • KC – Hall 9 pass from Green (Andersen kick)
    • IND – Lopienski 2 pass from Manning (Vanderjagt kick)
    • IND – FG Vanderjagt 45
    • KC – Holmes 1 run (Andersen kick)
    • IND – Wayne 19 pass from Manning (Vanderjagt kick)
    • KC – Hall 92 kickoff return (Andersen kick)
    • IND – James 1 run (Vanderjagt kick)
    • KC – Holmes 1 run (Andersen kick)


AFC West
(2) Kansas City Chiefs 13 3 0 .813 5–1 10–2 484 332 W1
(6) Denver Broncos 10 6 0 .625 5–1 9–3 381 301 L1
Oakland Raiders 4 12 0 .250 1–5 3–9 270 379 L2
San Diego Chargers 4 12 0 .250 1–5 2–10 313 441 W1


  1. ^ So there they were with the 16th pick... Retrieved October 4, 2010,
  2. ^ Kansas City Chiefs 2003 season – Database Football Archived December 8, 2006, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved December 18, 2006.
  3. ^ Zimmerman, Paul. The Race to XXXVIII Sports Illustrated, November 17, 2003.
  4. ^ a b c d Chiefs history: 2003 Archived June 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine KCChiefs.com, retrieved December 18, 2006.
  5. ^ [1]. Retrieved 2020-Jul-07.

See also[edit]