By Rich Kurtzman
The Broncos went into Kansas City last Sunday knowing they should handle the sorry Chiefs. But in the wild AFC West, records rarely matter when it comes to head-to-head matchups.
Denver played poorly to start the day, allowing Kansas City to build a 6-0 lead that they rode almost the entire first half. But Peyton Manning put together a masterful drive to score a touchdown with a pass to Jacob Tamme, putting the Broncos up 7-6 at the half.
When Denver went down 9-7, he made sure to lead another scoring drive, hitting Demaryius Thomas in the end zone with a beautifully on-target bomb. Manning and the offense were there again in the end, running five minutes off the clock and putting a field goal on the board.
The Broncos played arguably their worst game of the year, but they were still able to pull off the win, on the road against a divisional opponent. It’s the sign of a great team, a team that can play through adversity and still be victorious. Denver’s determination is evident, and their sixth straight win from this Sunday is the longest winning streak in the NFL. It also put the Broncos up a full four games in the AFC West, following San Diego’s demise at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens.
The Chargers put up 10 points on the Ravens in the second quarter, and led most of the game until they gave up 10 points in the fourth quarter. Part of that comeback was an amazing play by Ravens running back Ray Rice; on fourth and 29, he caught a pass and turned it up field, making seven San Diego defenders miss to pick up the first down. That first down continued Baltimore’s drive late in the fourth quarter, and put them in position for a game-tying field goal that propelled the game into overtime. The Chargers heart was broken and the Ravens won the game with another field goal, dropping San Diego to 4-7 on the season.
Kansas City has been eliminated for weeks, and when the Raiders lost Sunday, they eliminated themselves from the playoffs as well. Oakland, who has now lost four straight games, was blown out by the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. The Raiders have been lost since star running back Darren McFadden went down with a severe ankle injury on November 4.
Now, with a Broncos win, a Chargers loss, or if both teams tie this week, Denver will win the AFC West for their second straight season, which would be the first time since 1986-87. Also, a win this week would be the Broncos seventh straight, the most in a season since 1998, when they last won the Super Bowl.
Yes, signs are pointing to the men from the Mile High City being one of the best teams in all of football, they even have some thinking the Broncos are destined for the championship game once again.
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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.