The final unbeaten team in the NFL falls as the Denver Broncos trump the Kansas City Chiefs at home. Bob Sutton’s defense did hold Peyton Manning and company to their lowest point total of the season and did some nice things to slow the high-octane Denver offense down, but their offense was unable to do much to make this effort worthwhile. Alex Smith completed just 21 of his 45 throws on the game. Most of the throws he made were, once again, of the short variety. He overthrew a couple of receivers deep a couple of times and was plagued by drops throughout the chilly night. The Chiefs had the Broncos in their cross-hairs at the beginning of the third quarter after they forced a three-and-out and were down just 17-10. However, their offense was unable to mount any type of a surge and Denver was able to maintain the one touchdown lead until they finally broke through on the scoreboard late in the quarter with a touchdown. The Chiefs had a chance to win this game; they did not let the Broncos run away from them in the second half and the game was pretty close all night. You would think that favored Kansas City with the way their defense plays, but since the offense was unable to do much on the night, Denver got away with it.
The offensive line was absolutely dominant. I have seen many of the football games that have taken place so far this year, and I can easily say that this was one of the best performances up front of any team in any of these games on the season. They allowed no sacks and very few pressures. Of course Peyton Manning, as he always does, got the ball out pretty quickly (which made it even tougher for the NFL’s leading sack team to get in his face).
I did like how physical both of these teams’ cornerbacks played in this game. They were jamming wide receivers at the line of scrimmage and making some solid tackles. However, with the physicality came a lot of laundry. The two teams were flagged for a combined 22 times, much of these coming against the secondary. To the Chiefs credit, they did not let the Broncos dominate them offensively and I can say that they were up to the challenge of hanging with Denver. Things should be very interesting in two weeks when these two squads square off again, this time at Arrowhead.
The X-factor for this game had to be Wes Welker. He was the only Bronco receiver who was able to consistently beat coverage. He did so with a lot of short shakes and pick routes. He ended the game with eight catches for 72 yards. Demaryius Thomas had 121 yards receiving on the night, but 70 of them came on one play, which was a thing of beauty from Peyton Manning. He floated the ball out in front of Thomas and he was able to run under it and take it up the right sideline for a huge gainer. Julius Thomas accounted for the only Denver receiving touchdown in the game; he beat Eric Berry on the outside with a slant pattern. The other two Broncos’ touchdowns came courtesy of Monte Ball running it in. It was funny how they decided to mix Ball into the game plan this week since he had seen very limited action in the weeks leading up to this contest. Dare I say, this was very New England Patriot-like (and the Broncos head to Gillette Stadium to play those pesky Pats next Sunday night, how is that for a teaser?).
To me, the Chiefs proved that they can play with the Broncos on defense, but their offense will need to pick up the pace and account for more big plays the next time these two teams face off. Had Kansas City been able to put together a drive in the third quarter to tie this game, it would have been something to watch down the stretch. They did miss out on a golden opportunity in the first quarter following a fumble on the exchange between Peyton Manning and Monte Ball. The Chiefs took over at the Denver 18 yard line with a chance to take the lead. Alex Smith completed a pass to the fullback Anthony Sherman in the left flat for 2 yards. Then, on the tackle, the Broncos’ linebacker Danny Trevathan forced him to fumble. The loose ball was recovered by Quentin Jammer, thus putting an end to any hope that the Chiefs had to take the lead in this one.
So now each team is 9-1, tied atop the AFC West. However, Denver now owns the tiebreaker over Kansas City with this win, so they are technically in first place. In two weeks, things will become much more clear for these two squads when they battle once again. I can say that the Chiefs did look like they could play with Denver, and this bodes well for them. When the playoffs roll around, I can confidently say that these guys do not look like they would be a one and done team. They possess the defense that could take them deep into the playoffs. Now their offense will need to wake up. For the Broncos, this is a solid win. It was not a dominant performance by their part, but it was one that they needed to take control of the West. Next week they will be tested when the travel to New England to play the Pats. The Chiefs draw the Chargers at home, a team that will be desperate for a win. Desperate teams tend to play their best football so Kansas City can expect a fight from Philip Rivers and his crew.