Repeating History Works For Chiefs In Denver

From Sports Authority Field, Denver

It was another one of those déjà vu moments.

It was two years ago that the Chiefs rolled into Denver to finish out a disappointing first season under then new head coach Todd Haley. They were 3-12 on the season and the finale against the Broncos meant nothing in the big scheme of things.

But Haley sold his players on a thought – let’s make this our first game in 2010. Forget what 2009 was, let’s start the new year with a clean slate and go out and win a game. The Chiefs did that, beating Denver 44-24 in a game that had big plays on offense and defense.

Fast-forward two years to a New Year’s Day Sunday back in the mile high city. As they talked all week, and then reaffirmed Saturday night in their suburban hotel, the Chiefs approached the last game of the 2011 season as the first game of the 2012 season. It helped them go out and beat the Denver Broncos 7-3 in a defensive struggle that might have been boring football for some to watch, but it was a game that hung on just about every snap in the second half.

“I guess we learned that one from Todd,” OLB Tamba Hali said after the game. “We started the new year today. The season may be over, but the year started today.”

They start 1-0, although there’s no way to wipe away the previous 15 games and their 7-9 finish. Their season is over. Remarkably, the Broncos will play on. They backed into the AFC West championship when the San Diego Chargers beat the Oakland Raiders 38-26.

“I wish them well in the playoffs,” said ILB Derrick Johnson. “And yes, it’s bothersome that they are going and we are not. But that’s entirely our fault.”

There were many plots and sidebars to this game, but the ultimate outcome was decided by an outstanding defensive effort by the Chiefs, allowing just a field goal on the scoreboard. Denver had only 266 yards in total offense, with RB Willis McGahee getting 145 of those. The rest of the offense split the remaining 121 yards.

That means that WR Eric Decker had one catch for five yards. It means WR Eddie Royal did not have a catch, but had two runs for 18 yards. And most of all it meant that QB Tim Tebow had just 76 yards of running and passing in a game where the Broncos had so much on the line.

“They are a very good defense,” Denver coach John Fox said after the game. “I think their secondary is very well coached and very good. I wouldn’t want to take anything away from them, but I think there were times we could have done a better job.

“We didn’t get enough done tonight. I think we need to score more points.”

Points were at a premium in this game and the difference was when the Chiefs had their best opportunity to score, they did thanks to a 21-yard touchdown run by RB Dexter McCluster.

The game turned when the Broncos could not take advantage of their best opportunity when they had the ball at the Chiefs –yard line. Running the option left Tebow fumbled on a hit by Kendrick Lewis that was recovered by the Chiefs. The only other time they were inside the Chiefs 39-yard line, they got a field goal from Matt Prater.

“I think we had a game plan coming in of wanting to attack, so we just tried to execute that plan,” said Tebow. “Obviously we just didn’t do it well enough as players.”

The first half was about defense, poor offensive execution and the only points of the game. Both Tebow and Kyle Orton did not throw the ball very well and they combined to convert just four of 15 third-down plays.

The Chiefs had the most opportunities to score and it started with a short little drive that took them into Ryan Succop’s zone. But the newly signed Chiefs kicker missed his 44-yard field goal midway through the first quarter.

After Denver P Britton Colquitt got off a 55-yard punt with no return by the Chiefs, Orton and the offense started at their 10-yard line. Down the field they moved with Orton finding WR Dwayne Bowe for 18, 5 and 8 yards, while McCluster ran for 10 yards, and then put together back-to-back runs of 16 yards for a first down and then 21 yards for a touchdown.

The scoring play was designed to go left, but when that area was clogged with bodies, McCluster changed direction and went to the right where no Broncos player touched him until he reached the right pylon. He got just enough of his body and ball over that pylon for the touchdown. Succop’s PAT kick gave the Chiefs a 7-0 lead.

Denver came right back and had its best scoring chance. But on a third down play from the Chiefs 17-yard line, Tebow ran the option to the left side, got around OLB Tamba Hali, but fumbled the ball when he was hit by FS Kendrick Lewis. OLB Justin Houston fell on the fumble and the Chiefs got the ball back.

The offensive star of the first half for the Chiefs was Bowe. With CB Champ Bailey covering him all over the field, Bowe caught six passes for 93 yards. In fact, he caught six of the seven passes thrown to him. But on that sixth catch, he suffered a concussion when he was hit by Bailey and left the field. He did not return.

The Broncos only score came in the third quarter and was set up when CB Javier Arenas muffed a punt and the ball was recovered by Denver at the Chiefs 20-yard line. But it that situation of distress, the defense stood up and held the Broncos to nothing and that forced a 38-yard FG from Prater. That made the score 7-3 with a little over 21 minutes still to play.

From there, it was all defense and the punting Colquitt brothers, Dustin for the Chiefs, Britton for the Broncos. It was a field position game that forced Orton and the Chiefs offense to play it a bit conservatively, especially without the hands of Bowe.

“We had a lot of possessions start inside the 10, we were just trying to hang on to the football and be smart,” said Orton.

For the most part, they were very smart. Arenas had the only turnover, they had six penalties or about half as many as they produced a week ago in losing to Oakland. Orton was sacked only one time.

It was a heck of way to start 2012.

“That’s how we went into this game, just like two years ago,” said DE Wallace Gilberry had a sack of Tebow. “I think it’s a great jump for all of us to move into 2012.”

2 Responses to “Repeating History Works For Chiefs In Denver”

  • January 1, 2012  - Johnfromwichita says:

    Well, that certainly was not pretty but if you like defense this was a fun game. Pittsburg will devour Denver next weelend and we may never see Tebow again. All of those Bronco fans that wanted to see him start have probably, by next weekend, have seen enough. Good way to start 2012.

  • January 2, 2012  - Chiefs Close Out Season By Beating Broncos : says:

    [...] GAME STORY – Chiefs repeat history with victory. [...]

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