With quarterback Peyton Manning's balky right ankle wrapped up tight and then wrapped some more, the Denver Broncos got their first statement win of the season, 27-17 against the previously undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. The Broncos, for the first time all year, didn't need Manning to be super Sunday night, winning on the strength of their running game, with a pair of touchdowns from rookie Montee Ball, and a defense that sacked Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith three times. The Broncos and Chiefs both move to 9-1, with what should be an epic rematch set for Dec. 1 at Arrowhead Stadium. But perhaps the best news for the Broncos is that after a week of agony throughout the Rocky Mountain Region about the state of Manning's ankle, he emerged from Sunday's game unscathed. He was barely touched by the Chiefs, who entered the game with an NFL-best 36 sacks. The only time Manning hit the grass was when he dove to try to make a tackle after a first-quarter fumble — his sixth lost fumble of the season, and perhaps the only blemish on his MVP-caliber season. That fumble, on a botched handoff with Ball, provided a glimpse for the 77,022 Broncos fans at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, a group that largely poo-poo'ed the Chiefs on social media and talk radio all week, of just how the Chiefs won each of their first nine games. But that was it. The Chiefs' vaunted pass rush, with its league-leading 36 sacks in the first nine games, never arrived as Manning operated the Broncos' offense quickly and with just enough precision. The Chiefs' secondary, which entered the game looking like perhaps the only group deep enough to match up with the Broncos' trio of receivers, could only survive for so long before Manning struck. Near the end of the first quarter, the Chiefs defense brought nine players up to the line of scrimmage, threatening to blitz. But that left Marcus Cooper, a rookie cornerback, all alone with just one deep safety for help against Demaryius Thomas. It was an easy pitch-and-catch for a 70-yard gain down the right sideline. Manning hit tight end Julius Thomas for a touchdown two plays later, and suddenly the Chiefs, down 10-0, faced their biggest deficit of the season. Perhaps it will all be different in two weeks in Arrowhead, where the crowd won't be silent for Manning and where Tamba Hali and Justin Houston could get a jump on the Broncos' shaky offensive tackles. But the questions about the Chiefs' offense will remain. When the Chiefs found themselves needing to match the Broncos score-for-score Sunday, they couldn't keep up.
Broncos hand Chiefs 1st loss of the season, 27-17
USA Today | Nov 18