DENVER – For all the talk of the great Chiefs-Broncos showdown on "Sunday Night Football," the Broncos had it pretty easy.
Kansas City, the final undefeated team in the NFL, was dealt its first loss (pop that champagne, you 1972 Dolphins) in a 27-17 defeat to the Broncos at Sports Authority Field. Even though the Chiefs competed hard, the Broncos had the game in control from the first quarter on.
The Chiefs offense didn't create much, Kansas City took very few chances (including a punt from Denver's 41 in the fourth quarter when they were down 14 points), the defense didn't sack Peyton Manning, and that's a terrible combination against the NFL's highest scoring team.
Manning wasn't even that great, completing 24-of-40 passes for 323 yards, but that was more than enough. The Broncos were content to play a Chiefs-like game and run the ball a lot, and two touchdowns from Montee Ball were a big difference. The Broncos seemed like they wanted to limit Manning's exposure to Kansas City's pass rush, especially on a gimpy ankle. And when the Chiefs did get to come at Manning, they rarely put a hand on him. Denver's oft-criticized offensive line had a very good night, and Manning was quick to get rid of the ball.
The hardest hit Manning took all night was on a tackle, and it was a huge one for the Broncos. In the first quarter Manning was the only Broncos player between Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson and the end zone after Johnson scooped up a Ball fumble, and Manning got Johnson down. The next play, Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan forced a fumble by Kansas City's Anthony Sherman on a short catch and Denver recovered. Manning hit Julius Thomas for a 9-yard touchdown on the next drive to give Denver a 10-0 lead, and the Broncos were never in serious trouble after that.
The Broncos moved into a first-place tie with the Chiefs at 9-1. The two teams meet again in Kansas City in two weeks, and the Broncos' line should have a much tougher time protecting Manning with the Arrowhead Stadium crowd making a lot of noise.
But on Sunday night, there was never any real doubt about the outcome.
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