With the Chiefs disappointing 2004 season behind us, it’s time to take a look back and recognize those that we feel are worthy of some recognition for their contribution (or lack thereof) this past season.
So without further delay, here are the 2004 Warpath Awards.
Best Offensive Performer in 2004
QB Trent Green
The unquestioned leader of the offense. Started all sixteen games and played with great heart and determination all season long. Green set franchise single-season records for completions (369) and yards (4,591), and threw for over 300 yards in eight of the sixteen games.
Best Defensive Performer in 2004
LB Scott Fujita
Hard to find someone worthy of this award on a defense that finished 31st overall in the NFL, but since I have to give it to someone, I’ll go with Scott Fujita. The third year linebacker from California played in all sixteen games and led the team with 90 tackles and finished with a career high 4.5 sacks.
Best Special Teams Performer in 2004
PR/KR Dante Hall
After a sensational 2003 season, Hall got off to a bit of a slow start in 2004, but he really turned it on late and was a big reason why the Chiefs won four of their last five games. His return of the opening kickoff against Denver jump started the Chiefs to a rout of the Broncos, and his kickoff return late in the game against Oakland set up the game winning field goal. Hall finished the season averaging 10.1 yards per punt return and 25.3 yards per kickoff return.
Best Rookie Performer in 2004
DE Jared Allen
The Chiefs fourth round selection in April’s draft, Allen made an immediate impact and worked his way into the starting lineup by midseason. He finished the season with 31 tackles and a team-high nine quarterback sacks, one shy of the franchise rookie-record set by Derrick Thomas.
Best Coaching Job In 2004
Mike Solari, Offensive Line
His unit featured three Pro Bowlers and was one of the, if not the very best lines in football. They paved the way for the Chiefs to rush for 2,289 yards even though they were blocking for the third string running back by the end of the season. Solari’s unit completely dominated some of the best defense’s in football including Baltimore, Denver and Atlanta.
Best Victory in 2004
Chiefs over Colts – Oct. 31, 2004
Wins were so infrequent for the Chiefs in 2004 that almost any game that they won would be worthy of this award, but the win over the Colts was in my opinion the most meaningful. Everyone remembers what the Colts did to the Chiefs in their playoff meeting last year, so the fact that the Chiefs came out victorious, and even forced a few punts and a few turnovers, made this win especially sweet. The win was the Chiefs second in a row over playoff teams and improved their record to 3-4, but four straight losses would kill any postseason dreams that the Chiefs might have had.
Worst Loss in 2004
Chiefs @ Tampa Bay – Nov. 7, 2004
All the losses the Chiefs suffered in 2004 were tough to take, but none more so than the loss at Tampa Bay. The Chiefs entered the game at 3-4 and looked to be on a roll, but poor tackling, penalties, and a turnover in the red zone spelled doom for the Chiefs. As if the loss of the game wasn’t enough, the Chiefs also lost running back Priest Holmes for the rest of the season when he injured his knee in the third quarter.
Best Plays in 2004
1. Trent Green’s 28-yard touchdown pass to Priest Holmes against Jacksonville. Green was draped by two Jacksonville defenders and flipped a pass to Holmes just before his knees hit the ground.
2. Dante Hall’s 97-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff against Denver.
3. Trent Green’s 70-yard touchdown pass to Eddie Kennison with 2:00 left in the game at Oakland, giving the Chiefs a 34-27 victory.
4. Dante Hall’s 49-yard kickoff return late in the 4th quarter on Christmas Day against Oakland. The game appeared to be over, but Hall’s big return set up Lawrence Tynes’ game winning field goal.
5. Larry Johnson’s 41-yard touchdown run in the 4th quarter against Tennessee, giving the Chiefs a 35-28 lead.
Worst Plays in 2004
1. Trent Green’s interception against Houston, that was returned 102 yards for a touchdown by Marcus Coleman. The Chiefs were leading 14-6 and appeared to be on their way for another score when Green’s interception turned the game around. The Texans went on to win 24-21.
2. Dante Hall’s fumble on the second half kickoff against San Diego. The Chiefs were leading 17-14 and Hall was just a few steps from the end zone when the ball somehow popped out of his hands. San Diego recovered in route to a 34-31 win.
3. Trent Green’s interception at the 4-yard line against New Orleans. The Chiefs were driving for the potential game-tying touchdown when Green’s pass ricocheted off of Derrick Blaylock into the hands of Orland Ruff. The Saints hung on to win 27-20.
4. DeShaun Foster’s 71-yard run in the fourth quarter that set up a touchdown, securing Carolina’s 28-17 win.
5. Quentin Griffin’s 47-yard touchdown run in the third quarter on opening night that broke open a 17-17 tie and propelled the Broncos to a 34-24 victory.
Best Free Agent Acquisition in 2004
DT Lional Dalton
No one thought much when the Chiefs acquired Dalton in the offseason, but Dalton quickly emerged as a force on the defensive line. Dalton recorded 21 tackles and four sacks, but numbers don’t tell the whole story. Dalton was the only Chief that consistently got penetration into the offensive backfield and occasionally commanded a double-team, clearing the way for his teammates to make a play.
Missing In Action in 2004 Award
DE Vonnie Holliday
Holliday, the Chiefs big offseason acquisition prior to the 2003 season, missed seven games due to injury in 2004. When he did play he was easy to miss, recording only 13 tackles and no sacks. Well worth the $1.4 million he was paid in 2004.
Best Defensive Performance in 2004 (a rarity this season)
Chiefs VS. Falcons – Oct. 24, 2004
The Chiefs held the 5-1 Falcons to 222 total yards of offense (119 rushing, 103 passing), recorded four quarterback sacks and forced two turnovers in a 56-10 win.
Biggest Hit of 2004
Dexter McCleon on Antonio Gates
Not many bit hits by the Chiefs defense, but the one that quickly comes to mind is when Dexter McCleon (yes, Dexter McCleon) drilled San Diego tight end Antonio Gates on an out route in their November meeting at Arrowhead. The hit looked nice, but obviously had no effect on Gates who responded by scoring two 4th quarter touchdowns in the Chargers victory.