KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—Neither 12 years in the league nor nine trips to the Pro Bowl could prepare Willie Roaf for what he did, saw and felt on this history-making day.
Shredding what had been the NFL’s leading defense against the run, Priest Holmes and Derrick Blaylock each scored four touchdowns rushing Sunday in a stunning 56-10 rout of Atlanta (5-2). The eight TDs on the ground set an NFL record.
Down 3-0 in the opening minutes, the Chiefs (2-4) roared back with a 35-0 blitz and totaled 271 yards rushing against an embarrassed defense that had led the league with an average yield of only 74.5 yards on the ground.
“To go out and break an NFL record against a 5-1 football team is just unbelievable,” said Roaf, the Pro Bowl left tackle. “It’s incredible. That’s a good football team and they’ll bounce back. This was a college-type football game today. I’m just glad I was a part of it.”
Holmes scored on runs of 1, 2, 2 and 15 yards in the first half. He was stopped just a couple of feet short of what would have been his fifth TD rushing for the Chiefs (2-4).
The man who set the NFL record last year with 27 touchdowns rushing, then left with a mild ankle sprain.
But all Holmes’ injury did was unleash backup Blaylock against the helpless Atlanta defense.
Blaylock, who had a 7-yard TD in the first half, immediately scored on a 1-yard run after Holmes was hurt. He added TD runs of 3 yards, then 2 yards in a game that also saw the Chiefs record a team-record 36 first downs.
Much of the yardage was behind Roaf and left guard Brian Waters.
“They had, like, the No. 1 rushing defense,” said Blaylock. “But once we started moving ball on them we just kept moving the ball. We got in a rhythm. And eight touchdowns later, we’ve got the record.”
Holmes totaled 139 yards on 22 carries and Blaylock had 90 on 19. Altogether, the Chiefs amassed 540 yards in handing the Falcons their second-most lopsided loss.
“We didn’t have an answer for anything they did,” said Atlanta linebacker Keith Brooking. “There is no worse feeling as a linebacker than having the ball rammed down your throat. We were the No. 1 rushing defense and they hammered us.”
Holmes’ four TDs rushing in a half tied the NFL record and also broke the record for most in a game against the Falcons.
“I am honored to be a part of history,” Atlanta coach Jim Mora said sarcastically. “We have done a tremendous job of stopping the run. So it just emphasized how well they played. Their O-line was doing such an excellent, tremendous job, it might not have mattered who was in there.”
The Chiefs’ historic day began, oddly enough, with Holmes losing a fumble on their first play from scrimmage.
“In a game like that, you just want to keep running the ball,” said Waters. “For an offensive lineman, that’s a lovely day. That’s a dream.”
The collapse of the defense, which had been given great credit for Atlanta’s 5-1 start, was nearly complete. They came in with 20 sacks, but hardly even got a hand on Trent Green, who had 269 yards passing on 20 completions.
“The red light started going off,” said Atlanta tackle Ed Jasper. “They were literally the best running team we’ve played against. They took it to us.”
It was Holmes’ eighth game as a Chief with three or more touchdowns.
“I’m excited because it sets this offensive line apart from any offensive line in history,” said Holmes. “They created lanes and seams and we did an excellent job as far as reading them.”
The same Atlanta defense that last week held San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinson to 64 yards on 23 carries was gouged for 140 yards in the first half. Offensively, the Falcons converted only one of 11 third-down attempts.
“They just out-executed us,” said Vick. “We couldn’t get anything going.”
Vick rushed for 62 yards on six carries, including 32 yards on his first drive, and was replaced in the fourth quarter by Matt Schaub.
The Falcons got their only touchdown when Allen Rossum returned a punt 75 yards in the third period. ^Notes: The Falcons’ most lopsided loss was 59-0 to the Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 4, 1976. That was also the day they gave up seven TDs rushing. … The Chiefs’ 540 total yards are the seventh-highest in team history. Their three points was the fewest allowed by the defense since a 31-3 win over Chicago last December.