The Denver Broncos keep taking care of business in the AFC West.
Peyton Manning is now 9-0 in the division as a Bronco after beating the previously undefeated Chiefs 27-17 on Sunday Night Football.
Kansas City proved no match for the Broncos and the electrified Mile High crowd and Denver now sits in first place in the division with six games to play.
Here are some thoughts on Denver’s big win:
- One of the biggest swings of the game occurred midway through the first quarter after a Broncos fumble. The turnover during an exchange between Manning and Montee Ball set the Chiefs up in great field position at the Denver 18-yard line. On the next play Danny Trevathan forced a fumble that was recovered by Quentin Jammer, and three plays after that Demaryius Thomas hauled in a strike from Manning that he took 70 yards. Manning threw a touchdown pass to Julius Thomas a couple of plays later that gave the Broncos a 10-0 lead. That ten point swing set the tone for the rest of the game and gave the Broncos a lead they would never relinquish.
- The key moment for the Denver defense came a few minutes before halftime. Kansas City had driven the length of the field and faced a 3rd and goal on the Broncos’ 1-yard line. Linebacker Danny Trevathan wasn’t in the game after getting banged up moments earlier and backup Steven Johnson found himself on the field for the pivotal 3rd down play. All he did was stuff All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles at the 1-yard line when it looked like he was going in for a certain score. The Chiefs settled for a field goal that brought them to within 7 points and they never got any closer. My game ball goes to Johnson for shutting the door on the Chiefs last night.
- Speaking of the Denver defense, they had the look of the best defensive unit on the field. They held Charles to 78-yards rushing (35 of which came on a single rush in the 2nd quarter) and sacked quarterback Alex Smith three times. The ferocity of the Chiefs defense was the talk of the week heading into this game but it was Denver that made the biggest statement on the defensive side.
- My second game ball goes to the entire offensive line. Peyton Manning wasn’t hit or sacked a single time last night. I had a hard time telling if Kansas City pass rushers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston even made the trip to Mile High. The game plan that centered around 36 rushing attempts and Manning getting rid of the ball quickly helped take some pressure off, but the line rose to the occasion and shut down the vaunted Chiefs defensive front.
- Montee Ball gave everyone deja vu when he was involved in the Denver fumble early in the game, but he wound up having a solid night and found the end zone twice before it was over. He only ran the ball 8 times compared to the 27 carries for Knowshon Moreno but those snaps will be good for his confidence. If Ball can turn the corner before the end of the season he will be a big boost for the Broncos’ playoff run.
- Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie didn’t make a big impact on the stat sheet but he was everywhere against Kansas City. He defended two passes and constantly had his man blanketed. DRC has been critical for this team especially with All-Pro Champ Bailey missing significant time through the first ten games.
- Outside of injuries to Wes Welker, Julius Thomas, and Rahim Moore, the biggest negative last night was the penalties. Denver was penalized 13 times for 82 yards! Some of them can be written off as horrible calls by the officials, but the penalties were one of the few reasons the final score was even remotely close. Duke Ihenacho had a brutal taunting penalty that turned a Chiefs’ 2nd and 8 at the Denver 12-yard line into a 1st and goal at the 6. Kansas City scored a touchdown three plays later to get within three points. With the way the Denver defense was playing that was probably a four point penalty. Come January the Broncos must eliminate the mental mistakes that costs them points.
- The Broncos find themselves in first place in the AFC West today but there is no time to rest on their laurels. The next two games at New England and Kansas City will determine where the Broncos end up in the final playoff standings. It all kicks off on Sunday Night Football against Tom Brady and the Patriots in Foxborough. Go Broncos!