Shelter from the storm.
The Kansas City Chiefs went into Denver Sunday night in hopes of getting shelter from the storm that is the media. All week the media was saying this will be lopsided and that the Chiefs won’t have a chance to stop Denver’s record breaking offense. But even if they could, would they be able to score enough to keep up? I stated before the game that for the Chiefs to win, they would have to keep Denver under 28 points. Turns out one of these statements was true.
Stopping Manning: The impossible edition.
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Peyton Manning threw for 323 yards and only one touchdown. I consider this a victory for the Chiefs’ defense. The only part of this that doesn’t get the Chiefs off the hook was the fact that Manning was not sacked once. Think about that for a second. In fact, from watching the game, it barely appeared that they got any hits on him at all. This is something that the Chiefs will have to evaluate further since the last three games they only have one sack. Manning looked very comfortable in the pocket, stepping up when need be and hitting any one of his favorite targets when open. The Chiefs did however do a nice job in the second and third quarters. Denver’s punter Britton Colquitt did punt six times. The Chiefs had their opportunities to score more than they did, but they just couldn’t do it.
Denver came into this game looking to steam roll the Chiefs with their vaunted offense but in all honesty they didn’t. They score 27, which for them isn’t close to their 42 points a game they’ve been averaging all year. In the first quarter, Manning fumbled the hand off to Montee Ball and Derrick Johnson scooped it up and actually almost ran it in for the touchdown. Then right after that, Alex Smith found fullback Anthony Sherman in the flat for a reception and Sherman fumbled it away. Another missed opportunity came when Denver tried a 52 yard field goal and missed it giving the Chiefs great field position right before the end of the half. Smith hit Dwayne Bowe for 16 yards getting the Chiefs closer to a possible field goal only to have Smith get sacked on the next play essentially ending any chance of points before the half. The Chiefs also at one point had driven down to Denver’s two yard line and three runs later couldn’t punch it into the end zone. I questioned whether or not they should have gone for it on 4th down, but after thinking it over, they made the right call in kicking the field goal. One last missed opportunity came in the second half when the Chiefs went four wide with Jamaal Charles singled covered by a linebacker. Smith ends up throwing a horrible pass to Dexter McCluster on a slant not even looking to the top to see Charles sprinting past his defender. Even on the broadcast, Chris Collinsworth took exception to Alex Smith’s decision making on that play. If the Chiefs had turned all the missed opportunities into gold, would they have won? Most likely not, but when you’re an underdog on the road and you need all the points you can get, you can’t leave points and plays on the field.
By the Numbers:
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Overall the Chiefs’ defense played exceptionally well for not sacking or hitting Manning all game long. Denver put up 427 yards of offense while the Chiefs put up 344. Denver averages 455 in yards after this game, so the defense for Kansas City overall did their job. Another highlight for the Chiefs’ defense is that they gave up 104 total rushing yards to Denver, but it took them 35 carries to get there. If the Chiefs’ defense had a weakness coming into the game, it was stopping the run, so holding Denver to three yards a rush is a good thing. Denver did get two rushing touchdown, but they both came on short goal line situations. Alex Smith once again didn’t turn the ball over and had two touchdown passes, but he threw for 230 yards on 21 completions and it took him 45 throws to get there which is less than a 50% completion percentage. Jamaal Charles had 78 yards of rushing but nothing in the passing game as he caught two balls for negative 6 yards. That is where Denver did a nice job, holding Charles in check and only giving up one explosive play to him that resulted in a 35 yards run. The one stat that stands out as the difference in this game was zero sacks for the Chiefs’ defense. While Manning did not throw for 500 yards and 5 touchdowns, he was still way to comfortable and even one or two sacks would have put pressure on Manning to complete downs of 15-20 yards instead of manageable 3rd and five’s and 3rd and three’s.
The Chiefs can hold their heads high as they only lost by 10 points and proved they could play with the big boys on the road. 9-1 is still a GREAT record and now they can turn their attention to San Diego at home next week, followed by the rematch with Denver at Arrowhead that may just determine the AFC West title and a number one seed in the playoffs.