Chiefs a longshot that pays

ROB LONGLEY, IN TORONTO

, Last Updated: 10:42 AM ET

Even at his inspirational best, Kansas City Chiefs coach Herm Edwards would have had difficulty giving this pregame spin a potent enough dose of conviction.

Among the longer of long shots to make the NFL playoffs as the afternoon began, the Chiefs claimed the final spot some four hours after they took care of their own business.

What was shaping up as a mostly anti-climactic final yesterday of the NFL season turned into an absolute delight. Unless, of course, you are/were a fan of the Denver Broncos.

The Chiefs' most important assignment was a tough enough one at that -- to knock off the Jacksonville Jaguars. Check that one off first, following a 35-30 home win.

As Edwards walked off the field at Arrowhead Stadium, he took a peak at the out-of-town scoreboard where he could see that the less-than-motivated New England Patriots were finishing off the Tennessee Titans. Check two.

Then Edwards and the rest of the Chiefs retired to the locker-room where the Cincinnati Bengals could have ended their hopes before things started to get truly silly.

Instead, Cinci's usually steady kicker Shayne Graham was wide right on a last second 38-yard field goal attempt. Before the Bengals knew what hit them, the Steelers had left town with a 23-17 overtime win. Another check for the Chiefs.

Finally, according to the odds anyway, the longest shot of all as late afternoon turned into early evening.

For the final piece of the their playoff puzzle, the Chiefs needed the heavily favoured Denver Broncos to somehow slip to the visiting San Francisco 49ers.

When that 26-23 overtime shocker concluded, Edwards had enough checkmarks to cash in the most unlikely ticket to the postseason.

A full slate of games that was drifting toward ho-hum in the middle of the afternoon -- especially when the Broncos held a 13-3 halftime lead -- ended with can-you-believe-that shock.

With the victory, the Chiefs earned a trip to Indianapolis for one of four wild-card games that will kick off this weekend's opening round of the playoffs.

The New York Jets, who earned their way in with a stress-free 23-3 decision over the Oakland Raiders, meet the New England Patriots in the other AFC first-round game Sunday.

In the NFC, the reeling Dallas Cowboys messed up yet another chance to secure their division at home when they lost 39-31 to the lowly Lions of Detroit.

For those troubles, the Cowboys now must journey to Seattle for a prime-time meeting on Saturday against the defending conference champion Seahawks, who appeared to take a step toward competent with a 23-7 win over Tampa Bay.

The other NFC contest features one of the league's hottest teams versus one of the iciest. The Philadelphia Eagles, winners of five in a row, play host to the New York Giants (2-6 in their past eight) Sunday afternoon.

The Chiefs and Jets were the two teams to gain the most with their wins yesterday, but they weren't the only teams to take care of some important business.

The San Diego Chargers' 27-20 win over the Arizona Cardinals allowed them to capture the AFC's top seed for the first time since 1980.

Led by running back LaDainian Tomlinson and based on their 14-2 record, the Chargers enter the postseason as the Super Bowl favourite.

In Baltimore, the Ravens defence came up big, picking off Buffalo Bills quarterback J.P. Losman twice to scratch out a 19-7 home win to secure the No. 2 seed. And in Indy, quarterback Peyton Manning did enough to steer his team to a 27-22 win over Miami and earn the AFC's third seed.

The curtain closer had its share of losers as well -- give a wave ye Bungles of Cincinnati and you Tony Romo and the Cowboys.

For most of the day, Edwards thought that a season of lost opportunities would land him in the same morass. Instead, he ended feeling Mile High.


Videos

Photos