The O'Reilly Report

"A great team victory," says columnist Dan O'Reilly as he grades the Denver Broncos on their impressive 30-10 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football.

A great team victory. This game was an example of all phases of the game coming together at the same time in the same game, and it was probably one of the best the Denver Broncos have played in a couple of seasons. The Broncos are reasserting themselves as very tough to beat at home, and putting that thought in the minds of the opponents who come to Denver is always a good thing.

Offense: A
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Quarterback Jake Plummer had a very good game. Very few incomplete passes and he was for the most part very accurate in his throws. I would have liked to see more downfield throws, but you can't argue with the success they Broncos had last night in the short/mid-range balls. Once again, the tight ends were very hard to find (something I find a bit puzzling).

The running game was there again when it needed to be, meaning the offensive line was opening holes (to go with very good pass blocking). Wide receivers Rod Smith, Ashley Lelie and Charlie Adams all had great games, and it was good to see Watts get into the picture again.

Kudos to Smith, by the way, for reaching the 10,000 yard plateau. Not bad for an undrafted receiver...

Defense: A
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This team kept up what they started the second half of the San Diego game. It's a great formula: shut down the run and force the quarterback to beat you. Running backs Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson were basically non-factors for the game, and the defensive backs did a great job of keeping tight end Tony Gonzales in check.

The defensive line, for all the snide "Browncos" remarks the last several weeks, is coming together - who do you double team? Trevor Pryce? Courtney Brown? Gerard Warren? The linebackers, especially Ian Gold, asserted themselves yet again to be the best linebacking corps in the league.

The defensive backs were monsters again, with safety John Lynch having a big game and cornerback Darrent Williams showing again the tremendous potential he has. Big concern: Champ Bailey, who left the game with a pulled hamstring. There's a reason Darrent Williams put Lenny Walls on the bench (and that was apparent last night).

Special kudos to defensive end Trevor Pryce, he was basically unstoppable. A big backslap also goes to Ian Gold, it's good to see him home again.

Special Teams: B-
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Kicker Jason Elam is having an off year so far, with 3 misses in the last two games. Granted, they're longish attempts, but they've all been very makeable by Elam in the past.

The major concern I have at this point is the kickoffs. Todd Sauerbrun is having trouble getting them into the end zone at altitude, so I question what will happen once he gets to sea level. Overall, the special teams did an excellent job of containing Kansas City return man Dante Hall.

One thing struck me more than once last night: Hall really seems to be pushing it, taking a lot of chances running 5-yard-deep-endzone balls out. It seems like he's trying (forcing?) to live up to a reputation, and I think ultimately it's going to start costing the Chiefs field position.

Coaching: A
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Mike Shanahan & Co were ready for this game. Period. I think they really crossed the Chiefs up by doing so much passing early in the game, where everybody had talked all week of the need to run early and often. It seemed like Kansas City defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham on the other side, at least for the first quarter, was saying "they CAN'T pass it again, we'll play the run this time". It's the old adage: do it until they can stop it.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Broncos had an excellent game plan for containing the run and forcing quarterback Trent Green to beat them.



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