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1978 Kansas City Chiefs season

1978 Kansas City Chiefs season
Head coach Marv Levy
Home field Arrowhead Stadium
Record 4–12
Division place 5th AFC West
Playoff finish did not qualify
Previous season      Next season
< 1977      1979 >

The 1978 Kansas City Chiefs season began with the hiring of new head coach Marv Levy, formerly of the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes. With the NFL expanding its schedule to 16 games, the Chiefs finished with a 4–12 record and fifth place in the AFC West.

Coach Levy’s systematic restocking of a relatively barren defensive roster began with a 1978 draft class that included a pair of future Chiefs franchise hall of famers in defensive end Art Still and linebacker Gary Spani. Running back Ed Podolak, who was the club’s all-time leading rusher at the time, retired in the offseason on June 15.[1]

Perhaps Levy’s most unconventional tactic in rebuilding the Chiefs was installing the Wing-T offense. “It was a situation where we took over a team that had the worst defensive record in the history of the National Football League,” Levy explained.[1] “We wanted to keep that defense off the field, so we ran the ball 60 times a game.”[1] The 1978 Chiefs team ran and ran often, posting franchise records with 663 rushing attempts and 2,986 ground yards.[1] Levy’s squad ran the ball a staggering 69 times in a 24–23 Opening Day win at Cincinnati on September 3, the most rushing attempts in an NFL contest since 1948.[1] Five different players had 100-yard rushing games during the year, including running back Tony Reed, who finished the season with 1,053 yards to become the team’s first 1,000-yard back since 1967.[1] Despite the squad’s Opening Day success, the club lost 10 of its next 11 games, including a pair of overtime decisions. However, the team showed signs of improvement with the defense recording a 23–0 shutout against San Diego on November 26 as the club concluded its first 16-game schedule with a 4–12 mark.[1]


NFL Draft

Main article: 1978 NFL Draft
Round Pick Player Position School/Club Team

Regular season

1978 Kansas City Chiefs Team Starters
10    Mike Livingston       QB
21    Arnold Morgado        RB
32    Tony Reed             FB
22    Ted McKnight          WR
89    Henry Marshall        WR
88    Walter White          TE
60    Matt Herkenhoff       LT
73    Bob Simmons           LG
58    Jack Rudnay           C
65    Tom Condon            RG
77    Charlie Getty         RT
67    Art Still          LDE
61    Don Parrish        NT
75    Sylvester Hicks    RDE
64    Whitney Paul       LB
55    Dave Rozumek       LB
59    Gary Spani         LB
52    Tom Howard         LB
24    Gary Green         LCB
18    Emmitt Thomas      RCB
46    Tim Gray           SS
26    Gary Barbaro       FS
Kicking Team
3    Jan Stenerud      K
7    Zenon Andrusyshyn P
34   Eddie Payton      PR/KR


Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
1 September 3, 1978 at Cincinnati Bengals W 24–23
2 September 10, 1978 Houston Oilers L 20–17
3 September 17, 1978 at New York Giants L 26–10
4 September 24, 1978 Denver Broncos L 23–17
5 October 1, 1978 at Buffalo Bills L 28–13
6 October 8, 1978 Tampa Bay Buccaneers L 30–13
7 October 15, 1978 at Oakland Raiders L 28–6
8 October 22, 1978 Cleveland Browns W 17–3
9 October 29, 1978 at Pittsburgh Steelers L 27–24
10 November 5, 1978 Oakland Raiders L 20–10
11 November 12, 1978 at San Diego Chargers L 29–23
12 November 19, 1978 Seattle Seahawks L 13–10
13 November 26, 1978 San Diego Chargers W 23–0
14 December 3, 1978 Buffalo Bills W 14–10
15 December 10, 1978 at Denver Broncos L 24–3
16 December 17, 1978 at Seattle Seahawks L 23–19



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