It looks like the Chargers might drop it at home against the Titans, which would move Denver one game closer to a tie in the AFC Worst. That is, of course, if the Broncos can pull this one out at home - which hasn't been quite the place it used to be as far as home field advantage. Vegas has Denver favored by 6.5, but I wouldn't toss out more than a twelve-pack - unless you like the pain.
It's less than thirty to the kickoff - so strap it on, grab a cold one and get ready to roll… this could get bloody.
Broncos grab the toss and will take it on a beautiful football afternoon in the 5280. Denver ball at the 21 - First and ten and Selvin Young picks up a quick six - back to Young on second down - EXPLODES - 50-yards into Chiefs territory. Strong start for a team that got smacked by the Raiders last week. Cutler to the air - incomplete to Sapp - back to the air and Cutler hooks it up with Brandon Stokley for the score. Twenty-one yard touchdown strike and the Broncos nail an early 7-0 lead… I wonder how happy Shanahan is they signed Stokley to a three-year extension yesterday.
KC's turn starts off in near disaster - kick is fumbled just past the twenty but Chiefs recover and look to turn the tide. Brodie Croyle at the helm and three downs later the punting unit takes the field.
I'm not sure if Denver's all that good - or KC is really just that bad. Cutler connects with Daniel Graham on a beautiful roll out and moves it near midfield. Young to the ground adds another 17 and the Broncos push it to the Chiefs 34. T. Henry is back - straight up the middle for a quick six brings up second and four. Cutler to Marshall across the middle - breaks tackles and moves it to the five - first and goal. Henry moves the pile down to the two - back to Henry and it's another Denver score. Can it really be this easy? Broncos on top 14-0.
Here's a stat for you - Denver's run exactly twelve plays from scrimmage and they've got 14 points to show for it… Don't ask me why couldn't they do this in Oaktown - nobody knows.
Back to K.C. - kick is taken at the ten and moved out to the thirty. Three plays, two penalties later and it's back to the punt. Just saw the Chargers have pulled it in overtime 23-17 - that hurts. Broncos are two games short and San Diego will clinch the division if Denver blows this one…
Cutler and Co. take it at the 17 - long ball to Styokley is incomplete and they turn it back to the run. Young picks up nine fast - Third and one and Selvin slams into a wall of lineman at the line of scrimmage - Sauerbrun's on for the punt. Drives it to the 22 and former Bronco Eddie Kennison takes it to the 34.
More Croyle and more of nothing. Three drives - three punts without a first down in sight. It's almost enough to make you feel better about Denver's season - key word is almost. Broncos take the punt and it‘s down at the 25.
It must be catching - Denver pulls of its first three and out of the afternoon - their tenth in the last three games. Sauerbrun sails it to the thirty - six yards on the return and the first quarter comes to a close with Denver on top 14-0.
Cherish it while it's here…
Colby Smith is out at running back for the Chiefs - rookie Gilbert Harris is the new man of the day. Broncos offsides on the first - knock off the penalty and it's first and five. In-com-plete to Bowe - Back to the ground and it's a one yard pickup for Harris. Croyle to the air - another misfire to Bowe but the Broncos gift wrap an early present - another offsides and it's a KC first and ten from the 47.
Croyle completes it to Rigsby for a nice nine and it's second and one at the Broncos 43. Harris is a no show at the line - brings up third and one. Harris again - he's met by Champ Bailey and it's short - nothing to lose KC goes for it and Harris moves the chains off tackle.
First and ten from the forty and the chiefs ground games heads backwards - loss of one. Croyle to the air but Ian Gold has other plans and nails the rookie in the pocket. That'll hurt in the morning. Croyle again - hits Gonzalez jhust short of the first. Fourth and two and it's back to the ground - it may be inches but it's enough for another first and it's KC's best drive of the day.
Chiefs are thirty yards out and have got the momentum. Croyle to the air - incomplete to Bowe. Second and ten and flags fly - delay of game and KC marches it back five - down remains the same. Croyle to Gonzalaz for nine and it brings up third and six. Croyle takes a five step drop and Elvis Dumerville takes a quarterback drop - second sack of the afternoon for Denver. Another fourth and Croyle hit's a wide open Bowe - moves it down to the Denver ten. So much for zone coverage… here comes KC on first and goal.
Croyle to Gonzales - welcome to the end zone - it's a fifteen-yard strike with two busted tackles thrown in for good measure. Chiefs cut the lead 14-7 on an eight minute drive.
In case you're wondering - this is generally where it starts to fall apart for Denver. Don't hyperventilate.
Ok, I take it all back - Cutler across his body for a perfect 25-yard toss to Graham just past midfield. Young on the ground for seven. Back to Young - add another nine to the stat sheet. Grond game is working - albeit against a dismal Chiefs defense. Cutler to Scheffler picks up another first and the Broncos are inside the twenty - make it inside the ten thanks to Travis Henry - my favorite part of the game - it's the two minute warning - time to make plans for the buffet line - or at least figure out a way to cut in line…
Second and seven from the eight - Cutler to Marshall - Merry Christmas - wide open catch for the score. Here's a first - flags are thrown when a jubilant Marshal grabs handfuls of snow and tosses it in the air - evidentially that's unsportsmanlike… Who knew?
Broncos pull out a 21-7 lead as the quarter winds down.
Thanks to the penalty Sauerbrun has to kick it from the Denver fifteen - ball bouncers near the forty - finally brought down at midfield. Croyle‘s got a buck forty seven to give it a shot.
Working it on the ground - its good for a few. No huddle and a pile of time outs left - in-com-plete on the sideline. Third down and it's about five yards out of bounds - Herm Edwards opts for the punt. Fair catch at the sixteen. Pitch to Young on the right side - cuts it back across the field and the rookie moves it 29-yards.. Pitch to Marshall and it moves close to field goal territory. Cutler to Scheffler - Cutler to Marshall - gain of eight. Back to Marshall and it's moved just inside the twenty with one second left. Shanahan grabs his final time out. Elam's out for his usual chip shot and Denver walks off with a 24-7 first half lead.
KC takes the kick near the goal - nice return by Sapp moves it out to the 32. Loss of two on the ground but TE Gonzalez gets his leg caught under his own man and the trainers take the field. This could be a huge loss for the Chiefs… He's walking it off on the sidelines but it doesn't look good.
Two plays later the Chiefs are fighting for their life and punting unit makes it's return. Glenn Martinez brings it out to the 35 where he runs into a brick wall. Nice sound effect - that's gonna make the highlight reel. Gonzalez heads to the locker room.
Cutler and Co. head out for the second half and immediately go to Scheffler - moves it out to the 41-yard line on a six-yard pickup. Cutler drops - scrambles for his life and just makes the first down. Young on the ground - brought back by offensive holding and it's first and twenty from the 34. Slant to Martinex picks up eight. Cutler to Marshall on the sidelines picks up sixteen and a first. Young bounces it outside - down to the 35 - KC gets flagged for hands to the face - add on another five and an automatic first and Denver has excellent field position at the Chiefs 30. Henry tries to cut the corner - no blockers, it's a loss of two. Cutler to Martinez across the middle picks up thirteen and Denver moves inside the twenty.
Young gets dropped for one - hard tackle moves him to the sideline and Henry fills the slot. Cutler incomplete to Marshall stalls the drive and it's Elam to the rescue - lead extends to 27-7 with 6:58 in the quarter.
Sauerbrun sails it and special teams delivers - Paul Smith drops the return at the 14. Croyle to the air - picked of by Champ Bailey and everything is going Denver's way at this point. Short lived defensive stand and the Broncos offense gets a 50-yard field to try make another statement.
Young's back and he picks up a few off the left side. Cutler to Marshall - three jukes and a couple of spins later Marshall picks up twelve. Dude had some tremendous moves for a second-year receiver - I'd buy a jersey now if I was you.
Cutler drops back from the 32 - stumbles - gets back to his feet and out runs everybody down to the ten - that's a 21-yard pick up off a stumble. When it rains it pours for KC - why not grab a time out…
Cutler goes back to Marshall - moves it to the five. Young up the middle pushes it to the two. Cutler rolls right - perfect strike to Graham in the end zone and it's turning into a blow out. Broncos hold a 34-7 third quarter lead.
You almost feel sorry for KC (almost) - Denver's been on the bad side of more than their share of blow outs this year so I wouldn't get too cocky beating up on a dilapidated Chiefs team. A win only prolongs the misery unless San Diego takes a dive in the final games.
Bad to worse… Elvis Dumerville drops Croyle for a sack - follows it up with his third sack of the afternoon and Croyle coughs it up. Broncos take it at the KC sixteen.
Cutler to Scheffler moves it to the 13. Incomplete to Marshall - Let's try it again - Out of the shotgun Cutler threads it on a crossing pattern to Marshall and Denver strikes again. Elam tags on the PAT and the Broncos hold a suprising 40-7 lead with less than a minute left in the third.
Bronco fans are savoring this one - there hasn't been this much noise in Denver since the Hannah Montana concert.
A battered Croyle returns for more punishment but it's little or nothing on the drive - KC is forced to punt from their own 12 and the Broncos get advantage of another short field.
I wonder if there's a way to make the clock go any faster?
Broncos are winding this one down - three and out and it's just a matter of time before the Coors Light explosion in LoDo. KC gets it back and believe it or not it's another three and out… how much time is left? I'm praying no one goes out of bounds
A few more three and outs on both sides of the ball and I'm at the point of intravenous coffee to try and stay awake. KC gets trapped at their own one-yard line - drive stalls (no kidding?) and Denver takes it at their own 39.
Slight scare when Cutler hangs it out for Marshall, who gets nailed on the catch. May be a rib injury as the wide receiver heads to the sideline. Why Shanny's keeping the starters in at this point is anybody's guess - but it seems pretty pointless to risk somebody when it's meaningless. Drive stalls and the Chiefs take it at their own twenty.
Croyle mounts a semi-successful drive that crosses midfield before he fumbles the ball as he's passing. If I'm not mistaken that's the 400th turnover for Kansas City. Herm Edwards challenges the call - no luck - play is ruled a fumble and the Broncos take control at their own forty at the two minute warning.
My prayers have been answered - Broncos kill the clock and walk away with a very impressive 41-7 win over a very disappointing Chiefs team. Too bad it couldn't have happened in Chicago or Oakland or any number of games that they should have won this season. On the bright side - if San Diego implodes over the next two week there's still a shot for the division title. I wouldn't hold my breath…
Stay tuned to Broncos Update for further coverage - Post game quotes to follow.
Michael John Schon has covered the National Football League and the Denver Broncos for the past ten years. As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association he has published and syndicated columns to both newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and Canada. His syndicated radio broadcast: "Schon Live" airs weekly on various radio stations around the country.
Schon can be reached at Schon@prostarmediagroup.net
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