A heavy helping of C.J. Anderson, a splash of Peyton Manning, a side of Connor Barth and formidable defense was the recipe for the Denver Broncos success on Sunday in Kansas City.
The Broncos (9-3) pounded and grounded their AFC West rival 29-16 and rejoined the chase for the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Kansas City, meanwhile, lost its second straight game to fall to 7-5 is currently the seventh seed in the AFC playoff chase.
The Broncos run game shredded the Chiefs defense for 214 yards with Anderson running for 168 yards. Manning, meanwhile, was rather pedestrian completing 17 of 34 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns.
“Yeah I think it is kind of something we started isolating on a couple weeks ago,” Denver coach John Fox said of the running game. “Our players responded and did an outstanding job obviously again coming here tonight, we knew it was going to be tough conditions weather wise and we were able to lead with the run game and block at the line, tight ends ... and ran the ball very hard and very effectively.”
Barth, who signed with Denver last week, kicked five field goals in his first action since 2012 after missing 2013 with a knee injury.
Manning hooked up with receiver Demayrious Thomas for a 23-yard TD pass in the first quarter and found Anderson on a 15-yard TD pass on the Broncos’ second drive for a 14-0 lead.
Trailing 17-0 in the second quarter, Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith connected with tight end Anthony Fasano for a 20-yard TD pass. It was only the 11th completion of 20 yards or more this season for Smith.
Kansas Ctiy’s offense was bottled up by the aggressive Denver defense holding star running back Jamaal Charles to 35 yards on 10 carries.
Smith, meanwhile, completed 15 of 23 passes for 153 yards with two TDs and one pick.
The Chiefs’ offense was stagnant all night as Kansas City did not make a first down until the second quarter. They were held to 151 total net yards and were just 1-of-9 on third down conversions. Denver also tallied six sacks.
“I think the big thing is, what jumped out to me early, is third down” Smith said. “We were much better at third downs against these guys earlier in the year in the past and early on in this game we couldn’t sustain any drives. Our defense was out on the field the majority of that first half and the game. Couldn’t help them out.”
Linebacker Josh Mauga, the former Fallon and Nevada star, tallied three tackles in the loss.
The Chiefs end the season with three teams vying for playoff berths. Kansas City visits Arizona (9-3) this week followed by a home game with Oakland (1-11), at Pittsburgh (7-5) and home against San Diego (8-4).
Notes: Four former Nevada players started in Sunday’s game. Mauga and linebacker James-Michael Johnson for Kansas City and tight end Virgil Green and linebacker Brandon Marshall for Denver.
Johnson recorded three tackles, while Marshall had five tackles and a sack and Green tallied on catch for 10 yards.