The Falcons and Broncos both look to rebound from their losses when they meet at Invesco Field.
Atlanta entered Arrowhead Stadium with the best run defense in the league, but gave up an NFL-record eight rushing touchdowns and 271 yards on the ground to the Chiefs in an embarrassing 56-10 loss.
The Falcons, allowing an average of 74.5 rushing yards coming in, couldn’t contain Priest Holmes and Derrick Blaylock, who each ran for four touchdowns to help Kansas City total 540 offensive yards and 36 first downs.
“We didn’t have an answer for anything they did,” linebacker Keith Brooking said. “There is no worse feeling as a linebacker than having the ball rammed down your throat. We were the No. 1 rushing defense and they hammered us.”
The Falcons’ offense wasn’t much better, gaining just 222 total yards and nine first downs while allowing Michael Vick to absorb four sacks en route to the third-worst loss in team history. Atlanta’s worst defeat came with a 59-0 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in 1976, followed by a 56-3 loss to Green Bay in its inaugural 1966 season.
“It’s a slap in the face,” Atlanta coach Jim Mora said of the loss. “You don’t like to get whipped like that. You take it personal. We just have to handle it the right way, and we will.”
Vick continued to struggle in coach Mora’s West Coast offense, completing just 7 of 21 passes for 119 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. It was Vick’s second-lowest passing yardage total of 2004 and his fourth outing in five games without a TD pass.
Vick will have a tough time reaching the end zone against the Broncos, who have allowed just four touchdown passes in 2004, tied with New England and Pittsburgh for fewest in the AFC.
The Falcons, still holding a two-game lead over New Orleans in the mediocre NFC South, look to start 6-2 for the first time since 1998, when they finished 14-2 and went on to lose to the Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII.
Atlanta faces a tough task in trying to bounce back against the No. 2 defense in the NFL. Denver is allowing just 238.6 yards per game, including 144.7 through the air, which also ranks second.
The Broncos had no explanation for Monday’s 23-10 loss to the lowly Bengals, who Denver had beaten in nine of the previous 10 meetings.
Cincinnati hadn’t hosted a Monday night game in 15 years and hadn’t played in one since 1992, but piled up 321 offensive yards—more than 80 above Denver’s season average. The Broncos had allowed 12.8 points per game coming in and surrendered 20 points for only the second time this season.
“We just didn’t have it,” said Reuben Droughns, who had his third straight 100-yard rushing game with 110 yards. “It seemed like they had more fight than us.”
Jake Plummer had two passes intercepted and was sacked three times, matching his total for the first six games, while finishing 23-of-40 for 221 yards.
“I think they were ready for a big game,” said Plummer. “I think we got outplayed.”
The Broncos got a few surprises from their defense, most notably the poor play of All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey. Bailey gave up two 50-yard passes to Chad Johnson in single coverage, including a touchdown, but vowed to bounce back against the Falcons.
“Somebody will have problems next week,” said Bailey, who was brought in this past off-season to line up against the opposition’s top receiver.
Denver’s defense also played poorly against the run, giving up 133 yards.
The Broncos lost tailback-turned-kickoff returner Quentin Griffin for the season after he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.