The Denver Broncos looked like a team that had been lying in the weeds, waiting for Kansas City to arrive. As soon as the Chiefs stepped foot inside INVESCO Field, the ambush was on.
Riding a nasty four-game losing streak that included an embarrassing home loss to Oakland, the Broncos struck the Chiefs from opening kickoff and never relinquished control of Sunday’s game. Behind a recipe both simple and effective, the Broncos started fast, protected their passer and took Kansas City’s greatest asset away. Denver put up 21 first quarter points and only faced one third down in the process; it happened to be a third-and-one at that.
“It seemed like we were bleeding from the beginning of the game,” LB
Everything that the Chiefs had previously done to get atop the division didn’t show on Sunday. The running game was non-existent, there weren’t any key defensive stops and Kansas City allowed its first defensive score of the season. A pre-game goal to pressure Broncos QB Kyle Orton failed to generate a single QB hurry and
The list goes on and on.
“We were unable to get a stop,” Coach Todd Haley said. “We kicked off and had a clear-cut plan for how we want to do things and we were just unable to get a stop.”
Unless you’re a Matt Cassel or
Sunday’s game saw the Chiefs average just 2.3 yards per rush with
“We talked about really not letting them outside – they do a great job of getting the ball to the edge of the defense and we kind of compared it to (Tennessee RB) Chris Johnson and the game plan we had against Tennessee earlier in the year, in that we didn’t want to allow them to get the ball to the sideline,” Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said. “I thought our defense did a good job of containing their runs tonight. Of course, getting out in front and getting the lead always helps, so that they can’t just try to wear you down and run 34 or 35 runs at you.”
By scoring the game’s first 35 points Denver eventually forced the Chiefs to abandon the run, but Kansas City never controlled the line of scrimmage. As difficult as this one was to watch, the single-game shutdown of rushing production isn’t necessarily what’s troubling. Most alarming is the fact that division rivals have used copy-cat tactics in back-to-back weeks to stall a Chiefs running game that had produced over 1,300 yards in the seven games prior.
Teams have stacked the box with extra linebackers and the Chiefs haven’t found a way to stretch the defense from sideline to sideline these past two games.
“Teams are going to put more in there than you can block and it really comes down to understanding that and knowing that you’re not going to be able to get hats on hats every play,” Haley said. “But you still have to be able to find ways to run and we’ve been unable to do that.”
For the first time this season, the Kansas City resembles a beat-up team. Already down a pair of free safeties and a wide receiver/running back that requires defensive game scheming, the Chiefs appeared to have more players join the injury list on Sunday.
While it seems that the cards are starting to stack against the Chiefs, Sunday’s loss only accounts for one tally in the “L” column. Locked in a tie at the top of the division, and with games remaining against each division opponent, Kansas City’s fate is still in its own hands. The next seven days, however, represent a critical time in not only the Chiefs run at a division title, but in the long-term building of the team.
It’s gut-check time.
“I think that games like this will test your mettle, will test your character as men and what’s important for us to recognize here as the Kansas City Chiefs because that is what is important for us,” Haley said. “This is about our team and our push to try to become a good team in the NFL. To take a team that has had some struggles and to continue to make positive movement here for the last year and a half and today, a game like this will really test our resolve as a group – as a team – and that’s everybody.”
Kansas City’s margin for error has diminished over the past two weeks, but the season is far from over. It’s vitally important for the team to bounce back this week similar to the way they recovered following a two-game road swing in Indianapolis and Houston last month.
There’s still time to find solutions, and what better place to get right than at Arrowhead?
“Right now we’re 5-4, we’re trying to win our division, and we lost to a division opponent,” DE
“We’re undefeated at home,” Smith continued. “Hopefully the fans will have our back.”