KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt was one of the millions of football fans that felt frustrated because they couldn't get the Denver-Kansas City game on television.
Hunt had lobbied the NFL for the game for 37 years, but couldn't watch it as the Dallas-area hospital he was admitted to on Wednesday did not have the NFL Network, which carried the game as its first live game telecast to about 40 million of America's 111 million television homes. So Sharron Hunt Munson placed the telephone next to her TV at home and her dad listened to the game that way.
"I know how disappointed he was when he couldn't be here," said Chiefs president Carl Peterson.
No doubt Hunt got a lift when quarterback Trent Green dedicated the 19-10 victory on Thursday to the Chiefs' owner, who had lobbed the league to let someone besides Detroit and Dallas host a Thanksgiving game.
"Lamar, I hope you're feeling better," an emotional Green said. "This win is for you."
Hunt, 74, who has missed only a handful of games since founding the franchise, was not hospitalized in an emergency situation, said his son, Clark Hunt.
"He's doing much better," said Clark. "He had a lung issue and needed to go to the hospital and let them take a look at it. This game has been important to him really going back to the AFL days. He's worked since the merger to try to get the game back here."
From his bed, Hunt listened as NFL rushing leader Larry Johnson gouged Denver's fifth-ranked run defense for 157 yards and Lawrence Tynes kicked four field goals for the Chiefs (7-4), who charged into a second-place tie with the Broncos (7-4) in the AFC West.
Johnson, raising his league-leading rushing total to 1,202 yards, consistently burned the Broncos with 8- and 10-yard gains, using his usual assortment of power moves and start-and-stop elusiveness. The Broncos came in giving up a shade better than 90 yards per game on the ground.
"I felt real good," said Johnson. "Overall, it's just your energy. You know that the whole nation is going to be watching you. It's the only game at night and it feels like a Monday night football game."
Johnson scored the Chiefs' only touchdown on a 1-yard vault late in the second quarter following a crucial mistake by the Broncos' Ebenezer Ekuban, who was called for roughing the passer on a failed third-and-4 play from the 9.
"There were a lot of crucial situations when we didn't step up and make the plays when we should," said Denver cornerback Champ Bailey. "One thing we've got to realize is we've got a lot of football left to play."
Making the night even more festive was an in-house standing-room-only crowd of 80,866, the largest since 1972, the year the Chiefs opened the facility that many call the loudest outdoor stadium in the league.
"Our fans were awesome," said Chiefs defensive end Jared Allen. "We took energy from them all night."
Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer tossed a 1-yard pass to Stephen Alexander for Denver's only TD and dropped to 0-6 in six starts in Kansas City. He was 25-for-39 for 216 yards and no doubt speculation will pick up steam over whether rookie Jay Cutler is about to be promoted.
Plummer was asked who he figured would start in 10 days against Seattle.
"Can I just not answer that question please?," he asked reporters. "I don't know. I'm taking three days off and you guys will probably know before me. I don't read anything, I don't listen to you guys on the radio, I don't watch any of your television shows and when I find out, I'll find out whatever it is."