If practice is a rehearsal for games, then the Broncos’ last four-game stretch has been a rehearsal for the playoffs. Certainly not in terms of a “win or go home” mentality, but the Broncos have played three of their last four games on the road, and against teams that are all (with the possible exception of San Diego) playoff teams.
Starting with a road game against the Chargers, the Broncos have played a home game against Kansas City, on the road in New England, and then on the road in Kansas City this past Sunday before they will play host to the Tennessee Titans at home next Sunday.
One could argue this as the Broncos’ toughest stretch of the season, and I don’t think anyone would be able to really disagree with you.
Facing plenty of injury and adversity, the Broncos endured a month that featured the loss of head coach John Fox, who is now going to be back on the sideline after having surgery on his heart. Facing a daunting schedule including road games to San Diego, Kansas City, and New England, missing your head coach is not exactly an ideal scenario.
The Broncos went 3-1 in that stretch, with only a crappy bounce on a fumble that hit Tony Carter against New England costing them a win, or at least another shot with the ball to win.
We won’t re-hash that terrible game, but what we will talk about is how the Broncos bounced back to beat Kansas City in a game that has huge playoff implications heading into the fourth quarter of the season.
Prior to the game, I was able to go on a podcast show with the good folks at Arrowhead Addict who asked me if this game was a must-win. I said at the time that it wasn’t, but I think I spoke too soon. This was not only a must-win for the Broncos, it was a must-win for the Chiefs. Both teams being 9-2, the division was essentially on the line in this game, assuming both teams win out.
That’s a pretty broad assumption, but it’s a fair one considering what we’ve seen from both teams to this point in the season. With a win against Kansas City, the Broncos would send their rival Chiefs into a three-game skid following a 9-0 start.
That’s exactly what happened.
After falling into a 21-7 hole, the Broncos showed incredible resolve and had 28 unanswered points before a nice KC drive resulted in a Jamaal Charles touchdown.
To me, it’s incredible that this game essentially came down to a fourth down play that would have tied it up at 35 late in the fourth quarter, because after the Chiefs went up 21-7, the Broncos were dominant the rest of the way.
The Chiefs did a good job of getting back into the game after it appeared the Broncos were in control and were going to win by at least two scores, but Denver did what it needed to do to win on the road, and they are now in control of the AFC West, if not the AFC as a whole.
The Broncos have had two tough losses on the road this season, and some were questioning their ability to win a road playoff game should that situation come up. Well, even if it doesn’t, the Broncos have proven their ability to win games on the road, but in this game against the Chiefs, they finally closed out a game and made a big comeback in a hostile environment.
Kansas City is one of the toughest places to play, regardless of record, and this was an impressive win for the Broncos on the road.