The Chiefs hung tough with the first-place Broncos on Sunday, but in the NFL, hanging in simply isn’t good enough.
Broncos QB Peyton Manning threw two scores, and the Broncos topped Chiefs, 17-9 at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs got to Manning early for an interception, but he still wound the day up 22-of-37 throws for 285 yards for the Broncos (8-3), winners of six straight games. Demaryius Thomas and Jacob Tamme each hauled in four passes and a score in the victory.
”Peyton Manning is a Hall of Famer,” Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said. ”We played pretty good as a defense most of the game, but he made a few plays, one or two more plays than we’d like him to make, and he came up with a victory.”
Knowshon Moreno, who hadn’t seen game action since Week 2, handled the bulk of the rushing attempts in Willis McGahee’s absence. He rushed for 85 yards on 20 carries for the game.
“He’s had a great attitude,” said Broncos coach John Fox about Moreno. “Things haven’t gone perfect for him, but I knew he would perform well, I think his teammates knew he’d perform well and he did. We’re proud of his effort.”
McGahee was placed on injured reserve earlier in the week after tearing the MCL in his right knee in last Sunday’s win over San Diego.
The loss drops to the Chiefs to 1-10, and while they played well defensively, the offense continued to struggle.
The Chiefs were unable to find the end zone all day in dropping their eighth straight contest. For the first time since 1976, the Chiefs have lost their first six home games.
“We’re disappointed in the outcome, but I thought the guys played a good football game,” said Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel. “By a long shot we were not perfect, but we still were in the game until the end.”
Brady Quinn got the start at quarterback and was only able to throw for 126 yards on 13-of-25 efficiency. On a desperation heave, he was intercepted on the final play of the game.
Jamaal Charles paced the Kansas City rushing attack, finishing with 107 yards on 23 carries in the setback.
The Chiefs, who have infamously played from behind most of the season, actually got out to the early advantage thanks to a pair of Ryan Succop field goals on Kansas City’s first two touches.
That was about it for the offense, as they were only able to manage one more field goal the rest of the way.
”It’s really about stopping the run,” Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey said. ”If you can limit that run game, you put the weight on their passing game, which hasn’t been that great this year.”
Down 7-6, the Chiefs were able to regain the lead midway through the quarter on Succop’s third kick of the day, this one from 49 yards out. Charles had a pair of 11- yard rushes and 30 yards total on the drive to help set Kansas City up in field goal range.
But Manning didn’t let the Chiefs keep the advantage for long, as he launched a 30-yard beauty down the sideline to Thomas for a score on the ensuing possession. On the play prior, Denver was able to convert on third down thanks to a 12-yard catch by Tamme.
Both teams stepped it up defensively in final period as neither could get anything going offensively until the Broncos scored late in the quarter.
Kansas City got the ball back on its own 50 yard-line after pinning Denver on its own 2, but couldn’t do anything with the good field position and punted back to the Broncos with 6:24 remaining.
The Chiefs didn’t see the ball again until there were just 14 seconds left, as the Broncos drove 68 yards on 12 plays to get Prater into field-goal range.
After missing his first two kicks, Matt Prater sent the 34-yard attempt through the uprights to give Denver an eight-point lead, leaving little time for Kansas City to respond.
On the final play of the game, Quinn launched a deep ball for Dwayne Bowe, but David Bruton picked it off to secure the victory.