Chiefs Defense Keys 10-6 Victory

From Arrowhead Stadium

It did not have the flavor of an AFC West classic, one of those Sunday afternoons that will be remembered many years down the road for great play and classic moments.

For the most part what went down on Sunday afternoon was forgettable in the short term. But in the big picture, the Chiefs 10-6 victory over the Denver Broncos was a hugely important outcome in their transition from also-ran, to pretender and now contender.

“It wasn’t pretty, but it was a big win for us,” said QB Matt Cassel. “I thought we came out and we were able to overcome some adversity. Hats off to the defense. They played well all day long.”

The Chiefs eighth victory of the season came courtesy of the defense, a group that could not achieve its No. 1 goal of the day – stopping the run – but did everything else at an extremely high level, including keeping the Broncos out of the end zone.

Now 8-4 on the season, the Chiefs head to San Diego for the most important December game for the franchise in the last four years. Even with the Chargers stunning loss on Sunday to the Raiders that leaves San Diego 6-6 on the season, a victory at Qualcomm Stadium is imperative for Todd Haley and his team.

But not any more so than it was in Sunday’s game against Denver. When asked if his team had been able to keep its mind on the Broncos this past week and not look ahead to meeting the Chargers, Haley said their focus was evident on the scoreboard.

“I told them last night, this was our best week of practice,” Haley said. “We were focused, we were focused in pre-game; we did not fall into distractions. I don’t think there were too many people that were thinking about anything else but today.”

Part of the focus of the rematch with the Broncos was not falling into any of the patterns that allowed Denver a 20-point victory just three weeks ago at Invesco Field. That meant they had to start faster, play better defense against the Broncos passing game and perform at a level that was significantly higher than what they showed in the first game.

For the most part they achieved that. While the defense against the run was not good, with Knowshon Moreno running for 161 yards, the pass defense was sensational. CB Brandon Carr had the best came of his career knocking down five passes. The sometimes anemic pass rush produced four sacks and they allowed only one completion of more than 20 yards.

“Their plan was to stop the passing game, there’s no doubt about it,” said Denver head coach Josh McDaniels. “That gave us some opportunities to run the football, but ultimately at some point you’re going to have to throw the ball. They did a good job of covering us. We missed some opportunities. We just didn’t make the plays today.”

It wasn’t like the Chiefs were making plays against the Denver defense. Although they finished with 359 yards, the entire game was a bunch of fits and starts for Cassel and his group. Penalties killed them, as did a Dexter McCluster fumble. Jamaal Charles ran for 116 yards on 21 carries but running the ball was hard work all day long. And they made Bowe invisible, as he did not have a catch and Cassel threw the ball in his direction just three times in the game.

“I’m sure they target him and said ‘We’re not going to let Dwayne Bowe beat us today’,” said Cassel. “They did a good job.”

The game’s only touchdown came late in the first quarter. The Chiefs started at their 30-yard line and Cassel was on fire when throwing on third downs. He went three for three in moving the chains, hitting Charles for 10 yards, McCluster for 19 and RB Thomas Jones for 20 yards.

That last completion set up 1st-and-Goal at the five-yard line. On second down, Cassel connected on a two-yard TD to Pope at the back of the end zone. He caught the ball and fell to the ground and there was some question where he got enough of his big body in bounds for the touchdown. The officials on the spot said yes.

“The game is ruled by inches as they all say,” Pope said. “My big butt got in and I came down on my elbows. I looked at the officials and he put his hands up in the air. That’s all I needed to see.”

Ryan Succop’s PAT kick gave the Chiefs a 7-0 lead at the end of an 11-play, 70-yard drive. It would be their best drive of the game.

Late in the second quarter, the Broncos went 12 plays and 85 yards, but their drive stalled at the Chiefs eight-yard line. Matt Prater’s 25-yard field goal got them on the board, trailing 7-3 with one minute, 19 seconds to play in the half.

Before they went to the locker room, the Chiefs got aggressive. In just 76 seconds, Cassel was able to get off seven plays and moved the ball from the Chiefs 27-yard line to the Denver 29 with just seven seconds to play. Succop hit his longest field goal of the season, good from 47 yards and a 10-3 lead at intermission.

It was in the third quarter when the offense’s problems were self-inflicted. On their first possession of the third quarter, they held the ball for over seven minutes, but had two penalties in the red zone and gave up a sack on a 4th-and-goal play. One of those penalties wiped out a two-yard TD run by Charles.

But the defense forced a pair of three plays-and-outs in the third quarter. Denver got the ball back when McCluster fumbled and LB Mario Haggan recovered the ball. Eight plays later, the Broncos stalled and Prater came on and kicked a 41-yard field goal to cut the Chiefs lead to four points, 10-6.

From there, the teams went back and forth as the defenses controlled the action. OLB Tamba Hali got a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery to end one Denver possession. Otherwise it was a battle between the Colquitt brothers, as Dustin and Britton punted back and forth as neither team reached the red zone.

“That was a physical, physical game,” Haley said. “Our team knew going in that we had to make it a physical game to have a chance and I thought we were able to do that.”

Now, they head to San Diego with a two-game lead in the division and a chance to wrap up a division title.

8 Responses to “Chiefs Defense Keys 10-6 Victory”

  • December 5, 2010  - napahank says:

    I turned on the TV as the game was in the 4th Qtr with about 10 minutes to go. What I saw and heard from the announcers was a somewhat inept Chiefs team.

    When I immediately rewatched the game I saw a much different (and better) team. This is the first game this year where (some)questionable Chief penalties on both sides of the line almost spelled disaster.

    Chiefs easily should have had 10 additional points or more. Yes, the Broncos ran the ball for 168 yards but their passing yards were mostly non-existent.

    Finally, Chiefs FINALLY blitzed up the middle with Arenas. Thanks Bob for instructing the coaches to do so!

  • December 5, 2010  - Edward says:

    Good points napahank. I’ve been saying against guys like Rivers and Orton Crennel can’t sit back in zone all day. We have a very talented secondary allow them to play man and shutdown Broncos receivers which is exactly what they did. I also felt the penalties hurt the offense from scoring more points. Some of them were good calls others like that holding penalty with Copper was terrible.

  • December 5, 2010  - Dan-NY says:

    Carr was a man possessed today. WR Brandon Lloyd’s caught only two passes of eleven targets. Eleven! Lights-out job by our so-called number two CB.

  • December 6, 2010  - Chiefs Set Up San Diego Showdown | Chiefs Football at says:

    [...] GAME STORY – Defense saves the day. [...]

  • December 6, 2010  - Craig says:

    GO Chiefs. Great article Bob.Not pretty, yes. But a win is a win against a division rival. This why it is called a team sport. The offense sputtered but kept their ground while the devense shut down one of the top passing offenses in the league. Again when have we had safety play like this? A decade? Great games Berry and Dorsey. Dorsey is having a really good year! Got to get a better backup for Big Ron so he can get a break ever now and then. Oh, and great game B. Carr and Flowers. Corners played Lights out. I hope everyone gets health this week! Go Chiefs!!
    Go Chiefs.

  • December 6, 2010  - Tim says:

    Loved the effort. We must have done something different though. Our ILBs had a very difficult day. They had a lot of trouble getting off their blocks/holding their gaps.

  • December 6, 2010  - RW says:

    I haven’t been the leader of the Matt Cassel fan club these past two seasons, so it’s only right that I acknowledge and praise the guy for one overlooked facet of his game that makes a huge difference in the final outcome of games:

    Cassel is outstanding in not forcing passes into tight coverage and throwing the ball into the stands instead of taking a sack or, worse yet, a pick by the opposition. He’s also improved in his reads and needs to continue to work on getting rid of the ball a little sooner, but kudos to the guy for taking care of the ball.

    This is something the great Peyton Manning and Brett Favre, to name two QBs, could adopt to their betterment of late. What is causing this with Cassel? Perhaps it’s having his ego in check, buying in to the coaching, or simply being honest with himself to the point of not playing above his capabilities? At any rate, he deserves credit. Well done, #7.

  • December 6, 2010  - Michael says:

    Carr was off the hook. Flowers was ok, but not up to his usual standard. That hammy seemed to be bothering him; so he appeared to be giving more room than normal. Still, he kept his guys in check for the most part. I think the D was willing to give some ground in the run game. Denver’s best assest is its passing game; so they took that away and let them run, to a point. Just not into the endzone.

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