Denver Dominates Kansas City: Three Things Learned
Broncos 29, Chiefs 16
The 8-3 Broncos traveled to frigid Kansas City to take on the 7-4 Chiefs in a key divisional battle on Sunday night. With San Diego surprising the Ravens with a come-from-behind epic win (hey, I'm a Chargers' fan!), a triumphant Kansas City would result in a three-way tie atop the AFC West. And with a nationally-televised game with the Chiefs and the crowd rallying behind S Eric Berry (get well Mr. Berry!) one would have thought (well, at least I did) that they would have made a greater showing.
But Peyton Manning was there. And despite being without RBs Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman, TE Julius Thomas, and CB Aqib Talib, the Broncos demonstrated adeptness with both the pass and the rush. Manning wasn't very "Manning" tonight, however, going 17-of-39 for a paltry 179 yards and two touchdowns. Second-year RB C. J. Anderson stepped in nicely, amassing 168 yards on 20 carries and scoring on a 15-yard pass from Manning; thus boasting consecutive games with 150+ rushing yards.
The Chiefs' defense had to intercede, especially in Berry's absence. LB Justin Houston made a few spectacular plays--including a strip sack--and rookie CB Phillip Gaines' coverage of WR Emmanuel Sanders was impressive (until the fourth quarter). But inconsistencies coupled with a sporadically-inept offense and virtually no offensive line (Denver recorded six sacks) fueled Kansas City's demise. They were Murphy's Law personified.
So what did we learn, if anything? Everyone realizes that Denver (usually) has a stellar passing game and last week versus Miami we saw their adroit rushing capability (Anderson garnered 167 yards and a score on 27 carries as the Broncos overcame a 28-17 deficit to defeat the Dolphins 39-36) so we already knew that too.
1. Coming into tonight's game, Denver has had at least one 100-yard receiver in 13 consecutive games: the longest streak in NFL history. Until tonight, that is. Sanders managed 73 yards and DeMaryius Thomas, 63 yards and one score (pictured above).
2. Contrary to my friend Tino's insistence, Chiefs' QB Alex Smith can, in fact, throw a pass over ten yards. In the second quarter, Smith tossed successive long passes; including a 19-yarder to TE Travis Kelce and a 20-yard touchdown to TE Anthony Fasano. His fourth-quarter touchdown pass to RB Jamaal Charles was 12 yards. Smith ended the night completing 15-of-23 for 153 yards, the two scores, and one interception by DE DeMarcus Ware. Interestingly, Kansas City still has no touchdown receptions by a wide receiver this year; however, Charles now has scored a touchdown in seven consecutive games--the longest streak in the NFL this season.
3. Eric Berry likes the red-on-red uniforms. I do too as there are no visible "panty lines" such as is the case with those unforgiving white knickers.
Next week, the Chiefs travel to Arizona to take on the recently-troubled Cardinals who have dropped two in a row after a 9-1 start, while the Broncos host the 7-5 Bills.