AFC West Roundup: Denver Broncos Look To Be Best Out West Early
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DENVER (CBS4) – One week down in the NFL and one team looks to be the class of the AFC West: the Denver Broncos.
Denver hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night and put on a show, winning 31-19. Peyton Manning was magnificent as the maestro of the Broncos offense, throwing for 253 yards and two touchdowns, connecting on 19-of-26 passes. Once he and Denver got into the no-huddle offense, it was curtains for the “Steel Curtain” defense, as the men in orange and blue marched down field repeatedly—four times for drives 51-yards or longer—completely controlling the pace of the contest.
Denver was better than decent on defense as well, holding the Steelers’ traditional run-heavy offense to a mere 75 yards on the ground and consistently pressuring and frustrating Ben Roethlisberger. The Broncos sacked Roethlisberger five times on the night, and Denver cornerback Tracy Porter intercepted Pittsburgh’s QB to cap off the win. Following the victory, Porter was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week, due to his pick-six to end the game, and also his eight tackles and five passes defended.
It was an all-around solid win against a very good Steelers team, the most impressive win in the AFC West in Week One.
The San Diego Chargers were the only other West team to put one in the win column, beating their division rival Oakland Raiders Monday Night. Neither the Chargers nor the Raiders played a pretty game, and Oakland’s effort was particularly ugly.
The Raiders’ long snapper Joe Condo was injured by his own player, taking a knee to the head during a tackle attempt, and had to leave the game. Oakland’s backup long snapper reportedly hardly ever practiced, and it showed as he bounced two balls off the turf and allowed a free Chargers’ rusher to come in a block a punt. In all, San Diego benefited from three botched punt attempts, getting great field position and turning the short field into scores.
Still, the Chargers offense played poorly too, earning only 11 first downs in the contest to narrowly escape Oakland with the 22-14 win.
In Kansas City, the Chiefs looked like chumps as the Atlanta Falcons burned them 40-24 in a loss at Arrowhead. The Falcons, led by quarterback Matt Ryan, were nearly unstoppable on offense as he went 23-for-31 for 299 yards and three touchdowns. Two of those scores went to second-year standout receiver Julio Jones, the other, to former Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez, who was booed as he performed his signature dunk over the goal post in KC.
Kansas City did move the ball against Atlanta, actually out-gaining the Falcons 393-376 in total yards, but they couldn’t convert those yards into enough points to win. Chiefs QB Matt Cassel threw two interceptions that were turned into field goals, while his fumble deep in Falcons territory quickly became an Atlanta touchdown.
While Kansas City hung in with Atlanta for most of the first half, they allowed 20 straight points and saw their chances of winning evaporate in the second half.
This week, the Broncos (1-0) face the Falcons (1-0) in Atlanta on Monday in a game that’s sure to bring lots of offensive fireworks.
San Diego (1-0) hosts Tennessee (0-1) who lost 34-13 to New England and Tom Brady last week.
Kansas City (0-1) travels to Buffalo (0-1) to play a reeling Bills team coming off a 48-28 loss to the Jets in Week One.
Also, Oakland (0-1) heads to Miami (0-1) in a matchup of possibly the two worst teams in the NFL.
Rich Kurtzman is a Denver native, Colorado State University alumnus, sports nerd, athletics enthusiast, and competition junkie. Currently writing for a multitude of websites while working on books, one on the history of the Denver Broncos and Mile High Stadium. Find more of Rich’s Denver Broncos pieces on Examiner.com.