Broncos Feeling Better - For Now

The Denver Broncos came through in the clutch on Sunday against Kansas City and still remain in the thick of things in the AFC West. The big question is - For how long?

Despite the turbulence of the first half of the season, all it took was one win for the Denver Broncos to start feeling good about themselves again.

A 4-5 record isn't pretty, but the AFC West is poor this season and Denver is in the thick of the race. A 27-11 victory at Kansas City gave the Broncos a boost in confidence.

The Broncos had a tumultuous week before the win at Kansas City, spending seven days thinking about a 44-7 loss at Detroit. A loss against the Chiefs would have pushed the Broncos to 3-6 this season. Now the Broncos can get back to .500 with a win over Tennessee this week.

"Gosh, this was absolutely huge for us," kicker Jason Elam said after the win.

Denver has been inconsistent all season, but the Kansas City game was a promising performance.

The running game, which had been poor for four weeks, was invigorated with Selvin Young. Young had to start in place of Travis Henry, who has a knee injury, although he could return for this week's game.

Young, an undrafted rookie, had 109 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries against Kansas City. The Broncos, a team that for years has prided itself on its running game, hadn't had a 100-yard rusher or rushing touchdown since Week 4 at Indianapolis.

Young was a good change of pace for the Broncos from Henry's pounding rushing style.

"He's a little bit faster than most people think," coach Mike Shanahan said.

Denver's defense also came alive. The Broncos have been struggling against the run, but held down Priest Holmes in Kansas City. Holmes had 65 yards on 20 carries. Denver also got a pass rush, which it hadn't been doing in recent weeks, and forced some turnovers. An interception by Dre' Bly led to a touchdown, and a forced fumble by end Elvis Dumervil was returned 17 yards for a touchdown by linebacker Nate Webster. Those two scores turned an 8-6 deficit to the Chiefs into a 20-8 lead.

The Broncos responded well to a 37-point loss at Detroit. They had only won two regular-season games at Arrowhead Stadium in Mike Shanahan's 12 seasons as head coach before Sunday.

"Anytime you get embarrassed like we did the week before, you learn a lot about your football team," Shanahan said.

The next challenge for the Broncos will be to play well going forward. Denver followed up a big win over Pittsburgh a few weeks ago with a tough overtime loss to Green Bay. Tennessee will be a tough opponent, but the Broncos know they have to reclaim some of their home-field advantage and get a win, or risk falling back to the fringes of the AFC West race. Denver has a favorable schedule the rest of the season, even though many of their games are on the road. For now, they are happy their season is still alive because of the mediocre AFC West.

"We've got to keep this level of play up, I think that's the biggest thing," quarterback Jay Cutler said.

PLAYER NOTES
--S John Lynch was inactive against Kansas City. He has missed two straight games after suffering a stinger against Green Bay.

--S Nick Ferguson was benched against the Chiefs. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said the move was made because Hamza Abdullah is better against the pass, but Ferguson didn't play in any rushing situations either.

--S Hamza Abdullah led the Broncos with eight tackles. He started in favor of Nick Ferguson. Abdullah also got his hands on two passes that other players intercepted. The Broncos like his range as a cover safety, and he's also a solid hitter.

--DE Tim Crowder had two sacks against the Chiefs. Crowder, a rookie, had a promising training camp but was set back because of an ankle injury in preseason. He should have a good second half of the season.

--DE Simeon Rice was released by the Broncos. Rice didn't get a sack in his half season with the Broncos, was frustrated with his role and asked to be cut. The Broncos signed three defensive ends days before Rice was let go.



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