By Rich Kurtzman
Denver started out dominantly on offense, scoring on their first two drives with little worry. Both of the two touchdowns in the first quarter came on third down passes from Peyton Manning. It was Demaryius Thomas, on an athletic catch, and then C.J. Anderson from out of the backfield and a scamper into the end zone for the 14-0 lead on the road. Then the Broncos faked a punt, went for it on fourth down successfully, but that drive ended in only a field goal. The Chiefs battled back, going for it on a fourth down of their own, and ultimately scoring a touchdown from Alex Smith to Anthony Fasano. Connor Barth kicked a second field goal just before halftime for the 20-7 lead at the break. The offense didn’t keep capping drives with touchdowns, they could only kick field goals for after half but still pushed the lead to the winning margin of 29-16. Denver won the game and held onto the lead in the AFC West at 9-3 on the season.
Offense – B
The offense was outstanding on Sunday Night Football, asserting their will from the first time they touched the ball. C.J. Anderson was amazing for the second straight week, running with fury, explosion and the unit established the ground game from their first play. Demaryius Thomas was on all game long, catching the first touchdown of the contest with Anderson scoring second. There were two let downs to end the first half, including the two minute drive in which both Jacob Tamme and DT dropped touchdowns. In the second half, Denver’s offensive line just road grated the Chiefs front over and over again for first downs with both Anderson and rookie Juwan Thompson running the rock. But they weren’t as efficient as in the first half, scoring only field goals instead of touchdowns on their second, third and fourth drives of the half. It was a so-so game for Manning, at 17-34 for 179 yards, while Anderson ran for 168 yards and scored a receiving TD.
Defense – B+
Defensively, the front won the line of scrimmage consistently, with DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller relentlessly pursuing Alex Smith for sacks and hurries. They forced three straight punts to start the game before allowing Smith to connect with Fasano for Kansas City’s first touchdown.
They held up for a three-and-out after Manning fumbled to start the second half, which was huge. Then, Terrance Knighton’s tipped pass which was intercepted by Ware ended the Chiefs’ momentum and set the Broncos up with a field goal. On the next drive, Ware sacked Smith to end the drive again—this was the best he’d played in the orange and blue. The Chiefs kept coming, though, and they marched all the way for a touchdown to start the fourth quarter as Tony Carter missed a tackle on Jamaal Charles. But Brandon Marshall came up huge to knock away the two-point throw. On Kansas City’s last drive, Rahim Moore made a huge hit on Donnie Avery to force a fumble and basically clinch the game for Denver. All told, they racked up six sacks and played possibly the best they have all season.
Special Teams – C-
While everyone else impressed, the special teams was again the low point of the Broncos. On one punt, Omar Bolden made a huge hit on the return man to pin the Chiefs deep, but Andre Caldwell was called for running out of bounds and the team had to re-kick. Of course, they ran the fake, which was successful, and their high point of the evening. Connor Barth was strong, making all three field goals and every extra point attempt, though his kickoffs were quite short. Bolden grabbed a punt that bounced off a Kansas City player, which was a heads-up play.
Coaching – A
John Fox and Jack Del Rio were both at their best in the game Sunday night. Del Rio’s blitzing on third downs forced incomplete passes and punts by Kansas City early, and the offense capitalized on the momentum by scoring to take the 14-0 lead. On the offense’s third drive, Fox was so gutsy he decided to run a fake punt, which worked and then went for another fourth down on the drive which was successful. They also pulled Isaiah Burse from the kickoff return duties, putting in Omar Bolden. Well done all-around.
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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. Rich is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.