The Denver Broncos went in to Kansas City on a mission: Stay undefeated in their Division, refocus after an Overtime Road loss in New England and take control of their own destiny as the Number 1 seed in the AFC. That mission was accomplished in fine fashion, as the Men from Mile High bested the Chiefs 35-28.
Peyton Manning went over 4,000 yards for the 13th season while tossing 5 Touchdowns, Eric Decker made 4 TD catches, Demaryius Thomas went over 1,000 yards and despite all the Holding infractions that went uncalled, the Broncos juggernaut revved up in the 2nd half and broke open the scoring. Rookie Montee Ball even got his groove going, with his first career 100+ yard rushing performance. Let’s hope that is a good omen for the Broncos postseason progress.
No question Decker gets the Game Ball on Offense, but Peyton got things straightened out after a rough beginning and no one can dispute Knowshon Moreno’s heart this season. The O-Line for the Broncos came up big. They kept Manning clean, allowing only 2 Hits and 5 Hurries while giving up No Sacks. Denver was a terrific 8-14 (57.1%) in 3rd down efficiency.
Here is Peyton’s take on Eric Decker’s afternoon:
“D.T. got hurt on the first play of the game. On that 3rd down to him – that’s a play he usually can go up and make and he couldn’t even reach with his other hand. He goes up with one hand and it ends up tipped up and getting intercepted. I probably told him that he could have told me that earlier that, ‘I only have one hand,’ and I might not have thrown it to him (smiling). I knew he wasn’t 100 percent. They double (Wes) Welker often in the two games that we’ve played. We knew that to double Wes would be a scenario so sometimes Eric was going to draw single coverage. He played well. He ran good routes and I thought Adam called some good plays. We were able to get down the field, protection held up and allowed us to get down the field and Eric was awesome. Really, hats off to him the way he played today.”
Manning had his best game in a month as well. He passed for 403 yards and five TD’s in the Broncos’ road win. Peyton has won his first 10 division starts with the Broncos, joining Kurt Warner (11) as the only players since the 1970 merger to win their first 10 division starts with a team.
Manning leads the NFL with 4,125 passing yards, the most ever through the first 12 games of a season. His 13th career 4,000-yard season extends his own record for the most in NFL history. It was Manning’s 8th career game with at least five Touchdown passes, tied with Brees for the most in NFL history.
Peyton has 41 Touchdown passes this season, tying him with Tom Brady (2007) for the 2nd-most through the first 12 games of a season. Manning had 44 touchdown passes through the first 12 games of the 2004 season. It also breaks his own Broncos franchise record for Touchdowns in a season (37) and with 4 games remaining, Peyton has a shot at Tom Brady’s single season Passing TD’s mark of 50, set in 2007.
The Broncos held the Chiefs to 5-13 (38.4%) on 3rd down and 3 for 5 in the Red Zone despite a rough start. Kevin Vickerson and Derek Wolfe were missed right off the bat as Mitch Unrein and Sylvester Williams were getting pushed around. Still, the “D” held the AFC’s leading rusher (Jamaal Charles) to 93 yards on the ground and didn’t give the Kansas City Offense any more than they have averaged through the first 12 Weeks.
Mike Adams had 6 Tackles and a very important Pass Breakup denying Dwayne Bowe in the End Zone to stifle Kansas City’s attempt to tie the game and force Overtime. Wesley Woodyard Intercepted Alex Smith in the End Zone early in the game, and that play may have turned the momentum and Home Field advantage away from the Chiefs. Though the “Sea of Red” cheered heartily for their team, some of the wind came out of their sails, allowing Manning & Co. better working conditions.
Those were good performances, but the Game Ball on Defense goes to Chris Harris, who had 6 Tackles and 3 great Pass Breakups at key moments; a Batted Pass and a Breakup in the waning moments to help stall the Chiefs Offense.
This Unit surrendered a 108-yard Kickoff Touchdown Return from rookie Knile Davis right after their first score. Then Trindon Holliday suffered a shoulder injury during the ensuing Kickoff and did not return to the game.
After that, the Broncos coaches sent a message to their team, because Wesley Woodyard’s INT aside, Omar Bolden made a terrific hit stopping Knile Davis in his tracks during the Chiefs next attempt at a Kick return. That was another play that juiced up the Bronco players.
Jacob Tamme had a nice stop and Quentin Jammer made the third Special Teams Tackle. Other than that, the third Unit was the weakest link in the game. They didn’t cost Denver the victory, but they didn’t exactly pull their weight either.
Still, after all the adversity this team has faced, I believe they are pulling it together. Jack Del Rio went 3-1 as the “Next Coach Up” and despite losing John Fox, Kevin Vickerson, Derek Wolfe, Rahim Moore, Julius Thomas and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, they managed to put together a convincing victory against a Divisional opponent.
All I have to say is…
– Kaptain Kirk