NFL Team Report - Kansas City Chiefs - INSIDE SLANT
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning threw for 403 yards and five touchdown passes to seize control of the AFC West by beating the Kansas City Chiefs 35-28 at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
With four games left in the regular-season schedule, the Broncos are 10-2 and hold a one-game lead over the 9-3 Chiefs, a team that Denver has beaten twice in the last three weeks.
"It's a big win because it was a division game," Manning said. "We played them two weeks ago in a tough game and we knew coming here it would be tough as well."
The Chiefs' defense started strong, but was picked apart over the game's final three quarters by Manning, who completed 63 percent of his passes for an average of 11.5 yards per attempt. Manning was not sacked, although Kansas City got more pressure on him than they did two weeks ago.
"He's just amazing, the best," Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry said of Manning. "He always knows where to throw it and when to throw it."
Kansas City's offense struggled in the second half, scoring only a late touchdown and producing minimal yardage as quarterback Alex Smith was under constant pressure from the Denver pass rush.
"There was a lack of execution and we kind of got into some third downs that were tough," said Smith, who threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns. "We fell behind and that changed the game."
The Chiefs started strong and held a 21-14 lead at halftime thanks to contributions from their offense, defense and special teams. Manning and Smith traded interceptions in the first quarter.
Smith's turnover was especially painful as Denver linebacker Wesley Woodyard caught the ball in the end zone. Manning's errant pass was grabbed by Chiefs safety Quintin Demps and helped set up the first score of the game, a 17-yard touchdown pass from Smith to wide receiver Junior Hemingway. Kansas City held an early 7-0 lead.
Manning came back and threw the first of those four touchdown passes to Decker, this one on a 41-yard play and Denver tied it at 7-7.
That tie did not last long. On the ensuing kickoff, Chiefs returner Knile Davis caught Matt Prater's kick eight yards deep in the end zone. Davis ran up the middle, cut to his right, broke a pair of tackles and went 108 yards for a touchdown in the longest play in franchise's 54 seasons.
Kansas City's defense came back on Denver's next possession and cornerback Marcus Cooper picked off a Manning pass intended for Decker, returning it for 20 yards to the Broncos' 22-yard line. Five plays later, Smith hit tight end Alex Fasano for a 12-yard touchdown pass and a 21-7 lead.
Late in the half, Manning led the Broncos on a 70-yard, nine-play drive that finished up with a 3-yard touchdown pass to running back Knowshon Moreno and the score was 21-14 at the intermission.
In the second half, Denver scored on its first three possessions, with Manning throwing three touchdown passes to Decker. Those scores finished drives that traveled 80, 92 and 95 yards and gave the Broncos a 35-21 advantage in the early moments of the fourth quarter.
The Chiefs cut that lead by a touchdown, when they moved 80 yards on 17 plays with running back Jamaal Charles scoring from the 1-yard line to make it 35-28. Kansas City drove down for a possible tying touchdown but a fourth-down throw by Smith to wide receiver Dwayne Bowe was knocked down in the end zone by Denver safety Mike Adams.
NFL Team Report - Kansas City Chiefs - NOTES, QUOTES
The 108-yard kickoff return touchdown by Knile Davis eclipsed the previous Chiefs' record-long play, a 106-yard kickoff return by Noland Smith against the Broncos on Dec. 17, 1967.
The Chiefs were without starting left OL Justin Houston, sidelined with a dislocated right elbow. ... In the fourth quarter, the Chiefs lost TE Alex Fasano (concussion) and LT Branden Albert (knee injury).
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Get over this? We have got to get over this walking out the door. We can't sulk over this. We have to get ready to play another game. The season is not over." -- RB Jamaal Charles.
NFL Team Report - Kansas City Chiefs - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
What we learned:
The Chiefs have lost three games in a row, including two at Arrowhead Stadium. They continue to have problems winning in the AFC West and protecting their home field in the second half of the season. They are now 1-3 in the division with road trips ahead to Oakland and San Diego. In the last seven seasons (2007-13), they are 6-20 in December and a record of 2-11 on the road. As the regular season heads to a conclusion, they have three of the final four games on the road.
"We still believe; it's a couple games and we can bounce back," said free safety Kendrick Lewis. "We've got to return, correct our mistakes and get right back on the playing field. We control our own destiny. We take care of business from here on out and everything is back to normal."
Denver quarterback Peyton Manning said it just "worked out that way" when he was asked if the Broncos offense was targeting Chiefs rookie cornerback Marcus Cooper. Whether they were focused on him or not, Cooper knows he had a bad day.
"As a corner, if you give up two plays or three plays, that's a terrible day for you," said Cooper. "It's just magnified because of what we do out there. We're the last line of defense. I wouldn't say it was my worst day or anything like that. I just have to continue to go out there and improve in practice and take it to the games."