KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – C.J. Anderson proved that his performance against Miami wasn’t a fluke.
The unheralded running back got the start because of injuries to Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman and ran for 168 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs, pulling in one of two touchdown passes from Peyton Manning and leading the Denver Broncos to a 29-16 victory on Sunday night.
“I don’t like getting tackled, especially by one guy,” said Anderson, who had 167 yards rushing against the Dolphins. “It’s just a mentality I have when I run the ball. If I’m being that nasty running back and the O-line is picking me up every play and telling me we’re going to do it again, it’s just great to hear that.”
Connor Barth was also perfect on five field-goal attempts for the Broncos (9-3), who remained a game up on San Diego in the bunched-up AFC West with their sixth straight win over the Chiefs.
Kansas City (7-5) is now two games back after losing to Oakland a week ago.
“There’s really not a phase I can point to that was a positive in this game,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “We all have to do better. We’re all in it together.”
It certainly wasn’t the kind of performance expected of the Chiefs, who emerged in a frenzy before the game wearing all-red uniforms for the third time in franchise history.
The Chiefs were honoring veteran safety Eric Berry, who will miss the rest of the season after a mass suspected to be lymphoma was found in his chest. Berry has professed his love for the red-on-red look, which the Chiefs wore last year against Dallas and this year versus New England.
While the Chiefs won both of those games, they hardly gave themselves a chance on Sunday.
Manning capped an effortless 74-yard drive with a 23-yard third-down pass to Thomas in the first quarter. Then, after the Broncos forced a second consecutive three-and-out, Manning found Anderson out of the backfield on third down for a 15-yard touchdown strike to make it 14-0.
Even when the Chiefs’ porous defense stopped the Broncos, they were usually within range for Barth, who was signed to replace ineffective kicker Brandon McManus.
Meanwhile, very little was going right for the Chiefs. They had minus-10 yards in the first quarter and were still at 66 yards through the third quarter.
After recovering a fumble deep in Denver territory early in the second half, they managed three yards before kicking a field goal. On their next possession, Smith had a pass batted at the line and intercepted by Ware, the first pick he had thrown in 179 attempts. On the Chiefs’ next possession, Smith was sacked by Ware on third-and-1 to force another punt.
“We have to do a better job putting players in the right position and we have to do a better job executing when we’re in that position,” Reid said. “We get that fixed, we’ll be back on track, but we’ve stalled the last two weeks. We have to get this thing turned around.”
INJURY NEWS: The Broncos escaped without any significant injuries. The Chiefs lost defensive end Allen Baileyto a concussion and offensive guard Mike McGlynn to a bruised quadriceps. James-Michael Johnsonexperienced back spasms near the end of the game.
BRONCOS GROUNDED: Manning only threw for 179 yards, which means the Chiefs still haven’t allowed a 300-yard passer this season. Small consolation, of course, given the way the Broncos gouged the Chiefs on the ground. “They were pretty effective,” Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe said. “We have to fix it as a defense.”
CHARLES DISCHARGED: The Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles had a touchdown reception but he was held to 35 yards on 10 carries. “We didn’t play hard enough,” he said. “We played on national TV and we just didn’t play well. We have to play better.”
SUNBARTHING: The Broncos’ kicker chose to wear No. 1 in honor of Jason Elam, whose franchise record for field goals in a single game he matched Sunday night. “He said he was laying out by the pool this time last week,” Manning said. “He came in here in zero-degree weather and went 5 for 5 in field goals. That was huge.”
CHEAP SHOT: Broncos linebacker Von Miller delivered a vicious late hit on Smith that earned a 15-yard penalty. Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce called it “a cheap shot,” and made a crude gesture toward Miller that was caught on television cameras.
– By DAVE SKRETTA, AP Sports Writer
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