If John Fox’s heart wasn’t okay before the Denver Broncos beat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-28, then it is now.
Just as Fox heads into his Dove Valley office Monday morning for the first time post surgery, his team owns the AFC with one quarter of the regular season left to play.
The latest win soared from Peyton Manning’s hands to Eric Decker’s finger tips with both men owning the Chiefs for the better part of the afternoon. Manning went 22-for-35 for 403 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. This was Manning’s 8th career five-touchdown game, which ties Drew Brees for the most in league history.
Four of those touchdowns hit Decker’s hands, which makes Decker the first player in team history to have four receiving touchdowns in a game. Kudos to Decker who really stepped up when Demaryius Thomas headed into the locker room with a shoulder injury in the first quarter. Thomas returned, but Decker was the man all day, and 8 receptions for 174 yards proves it.
“They doubled [Wes] Welker often in the two games we played…Sometimes Eric was going to draw single coverage,” Manning said of his connection with Decker.
Manning and Decker were supported by running backs Montee Ball (13 carries, 117 yards) and Knowshon Moreno (15 carries for 18 yards, but 4 receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown).
The team’s offense is what helped weather the early storm that saw the Chiefs up 21-7 early in the second quarter thanks to a 108-yard kickoff returned for a touchdown by Knile Davis, but it was the Broncos defense that helped close the game despite missing four of their defensive starters.
Alex Smith looked like he was about to go from zero to hero at the end of the game. The Chiefs were within one score, and driving with 3:30 left. However, the Broncos ended the drive at the Denver 13-yard line on fourth down when Mike Adams stepped in front of a pass intended for Dwayne Bowe.
The Broncos gave up just one touchdown in the second half, which was a Jamaal Charles 1-yard run. Charles had 93 yards on 19 carries. Smith finished with 293 yards on 26-for-42 passing with two touchdowns and an interception.
Interim head coach Jack Del Rio was given the game ball in the locker room, and rightfully so. In the team’s toughest four-game stretch of the season, the Broncos went 3-1.
“I think we all take pride in what we were able to do together,” Del Rio said after the game.
The Broncos have won 10 consecutive divisional games dating back to last season, and they beat a very charged Chiefs team that had dropped their last two.
This could have been the perfect environment for a Broncos collapse, but they showed once again that they thrive on adversity. This is the most resilient team we’ve seen in a long time and their ability to succeed despite the odds being stacked against them only builds confidence for the playoffs.
Look out, NFL. The Broncos’ next four games are against teams that are a combined 16-32. There’s blood in the water all the way to the post season.