Chiefs host Broncos in marquee Thanksgiving game
November 23, 2006 8:31pm CST
BRISTOL, Connecticut (Ticker) - The Kansas City Chiefs will join the traditional Thanksgiving hosts. Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt lobbied for a long time to host a Thanksgiving game. He finally gets his wish Thursday night when the Chiefs (6-4) host the Denver Broncos (7-3) in a battle of AFC West rivals. It will be the first regular-season game on the NFL Network and begins a string of five Thursday night contests. The Dallas Cowboys (6-4) and Detroit Lions (2-8) continue their tradition of hosting the holiday afternoon games. With a chance to move into sole possession of first place in the NFC East, the Cowboys will face the last-place Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-7). The Lions (2-8), who are tied with Arizona for the worst record in the NFL, will play the Miami Dolphins (4-6) in an interconference contest. But the marquee game will take place at night. Denver is one game behind the first-place San Diego Chargers in the AFC West. The Chiefs can tie the Broncos for second place with a win on Thursday. In the first meeting on September 17, Jason Elam kicked a 39-yard field goal with 9:50 left in overtime to lift the Broncos to a 9-6 victory. The Chiefs played without starting quarterback Trent Green, who returned for the first time last week after suffering a severe concussion in the season opener. Kansas City has won six of the last seven meetings from the Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium. Last December 4, Larry Johnson rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns in the Chiefs' 31-27 win over Denver. Denver fell out of first place after squandering a 17-point lead in a 35-27 loss to San Diego last Sunday night. The Broncos had allowed an average of 12.3 points in their first nine games before giving up five touchdowns to the Chargers. Four days after handing the Indianapolis Colts their first loss of the season, the Cowboys will try not to look past Tampa Bay. After Thursday, they will have nine days to prepare for a showdown against the New York Giants (6-4) in a battle of NFC East rivals on December 3. But Cowboys coach Bill Parcells will try to keep his team focused on the Buccaneers. "We didn't have much time to enjoy the win over the Colts," Parcells said. "These short weeks are tough. You don't have much time to prepare for the next opponent. We had to go back at it in a hurry. But the win over the Colts ought to show us what we're capable of doing. We have a chance to do something here if we can keep playing like that." Tony Romo is 3-1 since replacing Drew Bledsoe as the Cowboys' starting quarterback. Undrafted out of Eastern Illinois in 2003, Romo has completed 63-of-88 passes for 1,088 yards and five touchdowns with two interceptions in his four starts. The Buccaneers are 3-4 since rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski replaced starter Chris Simms, who underwent a splenectomy after a September 24 loss to Carolina. Joey Harrington played in a few Thanksgiving games with the Lions. He returns Thursday as the starting quarterback of the Dolphins. Lions president Matt Millen signed quarterback Jon Kitna as a free agent and then shipped Harrington to Miami last April for a sixth-round pick in 2007. The third overall pick in the 2002 draft, Harrington was a bust in Detroit, compiling an 18-37 record as a starter. The Dolphins planned to use Harrington as an insurance policy behind starter Daunte Culpepper, who was coming off reconstructive right knee surgery after being acquired from Minnesota in the offseason. Culpepper started the first four games, but struggled with his mobility and also suffered a shoulder injury after being sacked 21 times. Dolphins coach Nick Saban determined that Culpepper needed more time to rehabilitate the knee and made Harrington the starter. After losing their first three games with Harrington at the controls to slip to 1-6, the Dolphins have won three in a row.