Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning continued his assault on the record books Sunday, throwing for 403 yards and five touchdowns and hooking up with wide receiver Eric Decker for four of the scores as the Broncos seized control of the AFC West with a 35-28 win over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
So far this season, Decker has often been the fourth or fifth option in Denver’s record-setting passing game, but he broke out with 8 catches for 174 yards and the four receiving touchdowns. The win raised the Broncos record to 10-2 and left the Chiefs with a 9-3 mark with four games remaining in the season.
Because the Broncos swept the two-game series from KC, they own the first tie-breaker if the two teams manage to end the season with the same record. So in effect, the Broncos probably wrapped up one of the top-two seeds in the playoffs and a first-round bye. They will be heavy favorites in their final four games.
The Chiefs have now lost three straight games after starting the season 9-0. Despite the losing streak, the Chiefs are still in an excellent position to clinch a playoff spot next week when they travel to Washington to play the Redskins.
On Sunday, the Chiefs started the game looking like the best team in football, jumping out to a 21-7 lead late in the second quarter. But Manning got the Broncos to within seven points just before halftime with a touchdown pass to running back Knowshon Moreno to make the score 21-14 in favor of the Chiefs.
Manning and the Broncos took the opening kickoff of the second half 80 yards in seven plays, with the future Hall-of-Fame quarterback hitting Decker with a 37-yard TD pass to tie the score, 21-21. At that point, the Chiefs offense lapsed into a deep sleep and the Broncos tacked on 14 more unanswered points to take a 35-21 lead.
Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles scored a 1-yard rushing touchdown to cap a monstrous 17-play drive and pulled back within one touchdown with six minutes left in the game. Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, having another terrific game of his own, led KC to the Denver 13-yard line but his potential game-tying throw in the end zone to Dwayne Bowe was knocked incomplete by Denver cornerback Mike Adams and the Broncos had the win. Smith finished the game with 293 yards passing with two touchdowns and 46 yards rushing. Unfortunately, Smith also threw the only first-half interception he has thrown this season with the Chiefs having a 1st-and-goal at the Denver 2-yard line on Kansas City’s opening drive of the game. It was the only turnover of the game for the Chiefs and given the final score, could have been a game-changer.
Rookie Knile Davis made his first impactful play of the season for the Chiefs in the first quarter after Denver knotted the score at 7-7. Taking the ensuing kickoff eight yards deep in the end zone, Davis took the ball 108 yards the other way for a touchdown return and making the longest play in franchise history.
Now the winning the AFC West is pretty much out of reach, the Chiefs can start working on fixing their problems on defense that have been going on for the last four weeks. Denver rolled up 535 yards the week after the Chargers put up 491 yards and 41 points.
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