Kansas City, Mo. The coldest conditions any Miami team has played in couldn’t stop these history-making Dolphins.
Thriving in mind-numbing frigidity, Chad Pennington threw three touchdown passes Sunday in a 38-31 victory over Kansas City that continued one of the most remarkable comeback seasons in NFL history.
A year after going 1-15, the Dolphins can clinch the AFC East next weekend by beating the New York Jets, the team that cast Pennington aside when it acquired Brett Favre.
“This is the only way fate would have it, right?” Pennington said. “I just don’t think it would happen any other way. There wouldn’t be any other scenario. This is how sports works.”
The Dolphins (10-5) became the first team to win 10 games after winning only one the previous season, but needed a 14-point fourth quarter after Kansas City (2-13) took a 31-24 lead late in the third.
The temperature at the noon kickoff was 10 degrees with a wind chill of minus-12, the coldest conditions the Dolphins have ever played in. No doubt it was even icier when Pennington engineered a 13-play, 85-yard drive capped by his tiebreaking 14-yard TD pass to Anthony Fasano with 4:08 left.
“Right now, (the drive) is a blur,” Pennington said. “It was so cold, my brain is not working real well. I can just remember time after time it was somebody making a play, breaking a tackle, making a catch, making a big block, making play after play to keep the drive going.”
It was the second-coldest game played at Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chiefs (2-13) concluded the home portion of the worst season in the 49-year history of the franchise. In their last 24 games, the Chiefs are 2-22.
“You play for pride as a football player and as a human being,” Chiefs linebacker Rocky Boiman said.
After quickly falling behind 10-0 when the Dolphins scored on their first play from scrimmage, the Chiefs fought back and took a 28-24 halftime lead.
“This game didn’t start off real well, but the way they fought back says a lot about who they are, and their character,” head coach Herm Edwards said.
Coming six days after the abrupt resignation of general manager Carl Peterson, the loss would seem to cast even more doubt on the future of Edwards, who remains staunchly supported by almost all his players.
“A lot of coaches in a situation like this would be looking for the door, would be looking for a way out,” Pro Bowl guard Brian Waters said. “Herm’s right there in the front, ready to take on all comers.”
It was the fourth victory in a row and eighth in nine games for the Dolphins, whose previously coldest game was 14 degrees at Foxboro, Mass., on Dec. 11, 1977.
“The biggest thing was trying to keep your fingers from going numb,” Dolphins running back Ricky Williams said. “We took care of ourselves and handled it well, I think.”
A Miami defense that hadn’t yielded a touchdown in three weeks gave up four TDs and a season-high 492 yards to the Chiefs, who have lost eight games by seven points or fewer and finish their miserable season next week at Cincinnati. Tyler Thigpen threw for a career-best 320 yards and had two touchdowns, but also three interceptions.
Pennington was 26-of-34 in the brutal cold, including two touchdown tosses to Fasano.
After Connor Barth’s 24-yard field goal put the Chiefs on top 31-24 in the third quarter, Ricky Williams’ 4-yard touchdown run tied it 31-all. Then Pennington took the Dolphins on the winning drive.
“The most important thing is we were focused on (win) No. 10 and making history,” Pennington said. “That is what today was about. We knew we couldn’t get to next week until we took care of this week. We found ways to win all season.”
Notes: At 10 degrees, it was exactly 30 degrees warmer than the coldest home game the Dolphins ever played, on Dec. 24, 1989 against, of all teams, the Chiefs. ... Dolphins lost their previous coldest game, 14-10, at New England. ... The coldest game played at Arrowhead kicked off at zero degrees on Dec. 18, 1983. ... KC’s Tony Gonzalez became the first tight end with four 1,000-yard receiving seasons.