When Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is an old man sitting his rocking chair telling his great-grandchildren about his Hall of Fame NFL career, he can mention October 31, 2004 as the most unique night of his life. It’s unique because after leading the Broncos to a 29-16 win over the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday night at Arrowhead, that Halloween day long ago is most likely the only time he will have lost to the Chiefs in his life.
Manning threw for 179 yards and two touchdowns, one apiece to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and running back C.J. Anderson, on a frigid night in KC and extended his career record against the Chiefs to a gaudy 13-1, including the post-season.
Manning’s only loss was a 45-35 setback back on that October night at Arrowhead when Manning played for the Indianapolis Colts. Of course, even in his only loss, he threw for 472 yards and five touchdowns, so take that with a grain of salt.
But on Sunday night, the real culprits for the Chiefs loss were former Chiefs kicker Connor Barth, who kicked five field goals (22, 24, 30, 33, and 37 yards) and Anderson, who bludgeoned the porous Chiefs run defense for 168 yards rushing and another 17 yards receiving.
Barth, who has been a Bronco for only about 24 hours after signing a free agent contract with the team on Saturday, became the second former Chiefs placekicker to torment the Chiefs in a hone loss this season. In Week One, Ryan Succop
See here for the bad news and box score from the game.
It was a disappointing non-performance by Kansas City (7-5) who 10 days earlier lost to the winless Oakland Raiders and now have dropped two games in a row in their division. The Oakland loss was partially blamed on a short week of preparation and a Thursday game after a tough win against the Seattle Seahawks, but KC had 10 days to prepare for this post-Thanksgiving Day turkey.
The only positive taken from the game is that despite falling into third place behind Denver (9-3) and San Diego (8-4), the Chiefs still hold the last playoff AFC playoff spot by the thinnest of margins. Pending the outcome of the Dolphins/NY Jets game Monday night, the Chiefs could be in a six-way tie in the AFC with Buffalo, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and if they beat New York, Miami.
But if you ask any one of the nearly 77,000 freezing red-clad KC fans sitting at Arrowhead or the millions of NFL fans watching the nationally-televised game on NBC, the Chiefs barely resemble a playoff team at this point.
“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,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said after the game. “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.”
Some of the lowlights of the game Sunday:
On offense – Produced only 151 total yards, their lowest amount since the 119 they managed to scrape together against the Raiders at the end of the Romeo Crennel Era in December 2012. The offense didn’t even manage to get a first down until the middle of the second quarter, but by that time, the team had spotted Denver 17 points. They had minus-10 yards in the first quarter and were still at 66 yards through the third quarter.
Quarterback Alex Smith somehow managed to throw for 153 yards and two touchdowns while being sacked six more times as the KC offensive line appeared to have no answers to blocking Denver’s front seven.
On not-so-special teams – Fell prey to another fake punt early in the second quarter when Denver was called for a penalty on a 4th-and-2 punt to the Chiefs 10 yard line. The Chiefs took the penalty, but on 4th-and-12, the Broncos executed a direct snap to safety David Bruton, who was the blocker in the Denver punt formation. Bruton scampered for 13 yards and a first down. Barth finished the drive off eleven plays later with his first field goal, giving Denver their insurmountable 17-0 lead.
But that wasn’t even the worst play of the night for the not-so-special team unit because later in the game, a Denver punt bounced off the leg of Kansas City’s Marcus Cooper and the Broncos recovered, setting up Barth’s fourth field goal and putting Denver up 26-10.
On E-fense (because for the second straight season, there is no “D” in Kansas City as the season goes on) – Where do we start? The team surrendered a season-most 215 yards rushing, two weeks after Seattle rolled them with 204 yards and the Raiders 179.
(And Chiefs fans will tell you that the only reason the Raiders didn’t get 300 yards rushing is because their running back, Latavius Murray left the game with a concussion after only four carries and 112 yards and two touchdowns.)
Anderson, who went undrafted last year, was coming off a 167-yard rushing performance last week against Miami. Starting in place of the injured Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman, he proved that it was no one-week fluke, gashing the Kansas City defense with nearly every touch. It was the most yards rushing by one player against the Chiefs since Cleveland’s Jerome Harrison had 286 yards on Dec. 20, 2009.
But possibly the most irritating part of the game was the fact that once again, Denver showed that the Chiefs are simply not in their class as a football team. And as long as Manning is suiting up for football games, the Chiefs may never beat Denver.
The Chiefs will take on the NFC-leading Arizona Cardinals (9-3) next Sunday at 3:05 p.m. CT in the University of Phoenix Stadium. The only good news for the Chiefs is that Arizona TRULY has not been able to run the ball this year with Andre Ellington being their leading rusher with 648 yards (3.3 ypc) and 3 touchdowns.