KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Make no mistake about it: the Kansas City Chiefswere out to avenge a 20-point loss to the Denver Broncos three weeks ago.
None of the Chiefs said so during the week leading up to Sunday’s rematch, but after their ragged 10-6 win over the Broncos, there was no denying the game was extra special.
“The performance they put on us three weeks ago was disheartening. It was embarrassing,” cornerback Brandon Carr said. “We had a sick feeling in us.”
Jamaal Charles ran for 116 yards and Matt Cassel threw a 3-yard pass to Leonard Pope for the only touchdown as the (8-4) improve to 6-0 at home and remained in first place in the AFC West.
Knowshon Moreno ran for 161 yards for the Broncos (3-9), who are enduring one of their worst stretches in decades, losing 17 of their last 22 games under coach Josh McDaniels.
McDaniels, who was snubbed in the postgame handshake by Chiefs coach Todd Haley after the 49-29 loss in Denver, actually got a postgame hug and a pat on the head this time.
“There were some penalties and turnovers and different things that kind of swayed momentum a little bit,” McDaniels said. “We just never could finish once we got down there in the red zone. They deserve a lot of credit, that’s why they’re where they’re at. They played and coached well today. That’s why they are on top of the division.”
Dwayne Bowe, who had caught a touchdown pass in a team-record seven straight games and came in leading the NFL with 14 touchdown catches, was held without a catch by cornerback Champ Bailey.
“He is a true pro,” said McDaniels, “a guy that is a big time competitor. (Bowe) is a receiver who we think is certainly one of the very best in this league and has had a great stretch.”
Kyle Orton, who came in leading the NFL in yards passing, was 9 of 28 for 117 yards.
“They did some different things with their coverages,” McDaniels said. “We just didn’t have a great day. When we had our opportunities, we didn’t make those plays.”
The Broncos, with one of the league’s poorest rushing games, had only 12 yards on the ground in the first quarter but finally started creating holes for Moreno in the second. Moreno had gains of 13, 10 and 8 yards on successive carries, setting up Matt Prater’s 25-yard field goal before Matt Cassel led KC 44 yards in eight plays in the final seconds of the half to set up Ryan Succup’s 47-yard field goal.
Cassel, after missing his first three passes, was 4 of 4 in an 11-play drive in the first quarter that spanned 70 yards and was ended by his 3-yard TD pass to a wide open Pope in the end zone.
Thomas Jones set up the touchdown by taking a pass in the right flat and weaving 20 yards to the 5.
In a scoreless, zany third quarter, the Chiefs seemed bent on self-destruction.
First, an illegal formation penalty negated Charles’ 2-yard touchdown run. Two plays later on third-and-goal from the 2, lineman Barry Richardson was called for a false start and became infuriated when he was pulled from the field.
On the next down, he started to run back toward the huddle but was followed onto the field by special teams coach Steve Hoffman and told to come back to the bench. Richardson then turned around and started back, but put his hand on Hoffman’s chest and shoved him roughly.
Afterward, Haley merely shrugged the incident off.
“What you’re seeing out of our guys, and what’s an exciting thing to me as a head coach, is we have a lot of guys who really care,” he said. “We had a penalty in the red (zone), and I think (coaches) just wanted to calm him down a little bit and let him regroup. He’s a prideful guy who didn’t want to be out and was upset at himself, and that’s a good thing. These guys care.”
The Chiefs failed to score on the drive when Mario Haggan sacked Cassel for a big loss on fourth down.
On KC’s next possession, a holding call on Terrance Copper wiped out Dexter McCluster’s 57-yard run. Then the Broncos appeared to recover a fumble by Cassel and returned it almost to the end zone but the Chiefs caught a huge break when Cassel was called for intentional grounding, giving them a chance to punt.
McCluster’s fumble was followed by Moreno’s 23-yard run in the fourth quarter, setting up Prater’s 41-yard field goal.
Cassel was 17 for 31 for 196 yards.
“It wasn’t pretty, but at the same time I thought we came out and were able to overcome some adversity,” said Cassel. “Our hats go off to the defense.”
Notes: The Broncos had only one first down in the third quarter. … Moreno’s 23-yard run in the fourth quarter was Denver’s first 20-plus run by a running back this year. … Since their lopsided loss in Denver, the Chiefs are 3-0; the Broncos are 0-3.
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