By Rich Kurtzman
The Broncos knew the No. 1 seed was on the line and they came out on fire. The defense forced a three-and-out and the offense cut through the Chiefs’ defense like a hot knife through butter. Knowshon Moreno finished off a 69-yard drive by running the ball in for the 7-0 lead. Ryan Succup hit a 22-yard field goal for KC and the Broncos answered with back-to-back touchdowns from Peyton Manning to Eric Decker. In the second half, Manning connected with Demaryius Thomas in the back of the end zone for a miraculous touchdown catch, Lance Ball rushed one over the goal line and Matt Prater tacked on a field goal to blowout Kansas City 38-3 and win their 11th straight game.
Denver finished the season 13-3 and the No. 1 seed in the AFC, meaning the road to the Super Bowl goes through the Mile High City.
Offense overall: A-
The offense was awesome early, looking unstoppable on their first drive before Ronnie Hillman fumbled the ball and they had to punt it away on the next drive. They got it going though and were nearly as efficient as any game this season, scoring points on five of their last seven drives. Manning was amazing, going 23-29 for 304 yards and three touchdowns, controlling every aspect of the offense with precision and attention to detail. He spread the ball around to eight different receivers, while four Denver running backs combined for 178 yards and two scores.
Defense overall: A
Denver’s D was dominant from the first whistle, disallowing the Chiefs to get much of anything going on offense. In fact, the Broncos allowed a season-low 119 total yards to Kansas City Sunday, with only 26 yards coming through the air. Those are ludicrously low numbers, even for the sad and sorry 2-14 Chiefs. The Broncos racked up four total sacks, and forced eight punts on the day in one of their best performances of the entire season. Rahim Moore led the team in tackles with eight, while tackle Kevin Vickerson enjoyed his best performance of the year with five tackles himself.
Special Teams overall: C+
Special teams failed to be, well, special once again. Prater made his only field goal and all five extra points, which was positive, but the return game was nonexistent with Trindon Holliday sidelined due to a bum ankle. The best play the unit made all day was a forced fumble on a Kansas City punt return, though Chiefs ended up recovering the loose ball anyway.
Coaching overall: B
John Fox was a consummate leader in Week 17, just as he has been all year long. Mike McCoy drew up a great gameplan, using Manning to build the lead and the run game to salt away the win, while Jack Del Rio’s defense focused in on slowing down the fifth-best running team and did just that.
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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.