KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Although running backs usually carry the ball, it was up to C.J. Anderson to carry the team. On a night when Peyton Manning struggled, Anderson stepped up, leading the Denver Broncos (9-3) to a 29-16 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs (7-5).
For the fifth straight game, the unheralded RB led the team in rushing, outperforming All-Pro opponent Jamaal Charles. And for the second time in a row, Anderson reached the century mark, with 168 yards. Anderson’s back-to-back hundred yard games is a feat not achieved by a Broncos back since Reuben Droughns donned the orange and blue, with three in a row in November of 2004.
Anderson sparked the Broncos to the win with a game-high 185 yards from scrimmage. He has been making his mark on the league, as even ESPN has noted. Anderson is just eleven yards away from being the leading Bronco rusher on the year.
Sunday also marked the continued dominance of TE Virgil Green, who made just his second catch on the season, but was instrumental in the run game. With Julius Thomas still out injured, Green held down the TE position, prompting one Denver journalist to make an interesting observation about the Broncos’ fortunes with Green in the lineup.
For the second straight week, the Denver offensive line played extremely well. Although they faced criticism from all corners prior to the Miami game, they blocked their backs to a 4.9 rushing play average. Manning was sacked just once, a sack-fumble by dominant Chief LB Justin Houston, and hit once by pass rusher Tamba Hali.
However, it was Manning who struggled, completing just 50% of his passes for 179 yards, his second-lowest total as a Bronco. His 85.3 passer rating was lower than that of Chiefs’ QB Alex Smith, who threw his way to a 95.0. Manning was inaccurate and made bad decisions. It was the first time all season that a Bronco receiver failed to have a 100-yard game.
The Broncos played a complete game, getting help from defense and special teams. Newest Bronco K Connor Barth went 5-5 on FGs, connecting from 22, 24, 30, 33 and 37 as drives stalled inside the red zone. However, on a swirling windy night at Arrowhead Stadium, he did allow 8 kickoff returns. CB Omar Bolden played a great special teams game, with one tackle on a punt return pinning Kansas City inside their 10 that was ultimately called back, and a heads-up fumble recovery after a punt deflected off Marcus Cooper. David Bruton also ran a fake punt for 13 yards.
The Denver defensive unit had perhaps the best game of all. The group notched 6 sacks from 6 players, highlighted by LB Von Miller’s 1.5, and hit Smith a grand total of 12 times. DE DeMarcus Ware made an interception off a deflection from NT Terrance Knighton and CB Bradley Roby recovered a WR Donnie Avery fumble forced by S Rahim Moore. They held the Chiefs offense to just 151 yards and stud RB Charles to 35.
With a New England Patriots loss earlier in the afternoon, the Denver Broncos are once again alive in the race for the #1 seed. They must win moving forward, and will host the 7-5 Buffalo Bills next Sunday.