Broncos, Eric Deck The Halls
By Daniel Calzone
The Denver Broncos defeated the Chiefs for the second time in three weeks, 35-28, to take sole possession of first place in the AFC West. Eric Decker went absolutely nuts catching eight balls for 174 yards and 4 TDs. Both teams lost close games last week, setting up what essentially was a Week 13 battle for first place in the division.
The ballgame started off inauspiciously for both offenses, with Peyton Manning and Alex Smith throwing interceptions on their first drives of the game. Despite the less than stellar start, the offenses got rolling and combined for a total of 987 total yards. Manning shook his two first-half interceptions and rebounded with 403 yards and 5 TDs. The game was a seesaw battle and both offenses were going blow-for-blow throughout. The Broncos had a little bit more horsepower than Kansas City, and proved they were still a force to be reckoned despite their second half meltdown against New England last week. Kansas City battled hard, and with a minute and change remaining they were in the red zone with a chance to tie the game. On fourth-and-four, Smith fired an incomplete pass in the direction of Dwayne Bowe that essentially ended the game.
Decker simply couldn’t be stopped. The Chiefs must have forgoten to include No. 87 in the scouting report. He got behind the secondary and hauled in a long pass on several different occasions and was instrumental in Denver’s success on offense. After catching just one ball last week, Manning made sure to focus on Decker and get him involved early. In a day full of outstanding WR performances, Decker and his 4 TD may have been the most impressive showing of them all. (See Gordon, Josh and Jeffrey, Alshon.)
As expected, the Broncos implemented a timeshare in the backfield. It was rookie Montee Ball who proved to be the more effective rusher despite getting fewer carries than Knowshon Moreno. Ball carried 13 times for 117 yards as opposed to Moreno who had 15 carries for a measly 18 yards. It is unclear if Moreno’s leg injury was a bigger hindrance than we had anticipated, but regardless he struggled on Sunday.
Ball was explosive against a Kansas City defense that has struggled of late. Albeit, their last three games were against Denver, San Diego and Denver respectively.
Peyton Manning passed the 4,000-yard mark for the 13th time in his career, which is far and away the all-time record. Manning continued his torrid pace and seems aligned to close in on all-time NFL passing records for yards and touchdowns. The cumulative record of the Broncos remaining opponents is 16-32. They truly control their own fate, and if they can take care of business in these mismatches they will enter the AFC Playoffs as the No. 1 seed with home field advantage throughout.
After winning their first nine games, the Chiefs have now lost 3 straight. They will look to get back on track next week in the nation’s capital against the Redskins. The Broncos improved to 10-2 with the win, and will hope to continue gaining momentum in the latter half of the season when they do battle with the Titans next week.
Alex Smith – 292 Yards 2TD 1INT
Jamaal Charles eclipsed 1,000 yards on the season and had 93 in the game
Junior Hemingway and Anthony Fasano caught TD passes for the Chiefs
Demaryius Thomas – 3 catches for 106 yds
Knowshon Moreno – 4 catches for 72 yards and a TD
Neither team recorded a sack in the game