Back to the drawing board

The Broncos might have been a little lucky during their 3-0 start, but they never got too excited about their good fortune or their undefeated record.

After a shocking 33-19 loss against Kansas City, the Broncos vowed not to get too caught up in that result either.

"We're still a good football team," quarterback Jay Cutler said. "We can't go into a panic here. There's a lot of games left for us."

The Broncos have a stretch of three 2007 playoff teams before their bye, starting with Tampa Bay this week. Jacksonville and New England follow.

The biggest concern with the Broncos has to be the defense. They have allowed 117 points in four games. Chiefs running back Larry Johnson exposed some weaknesses with a 198-yard performance against the Broncos.

Denver played against Kansas City without defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson, whose knee kept him out of practice. If Robertson has more problems with his knee, the defense could suffer. However, Broncos coach Mike Shanahan didn't blame the problems on Robertson's absence.

"That's part of the game," Shanahan said.

The Broncos will need the offense to have great performances to win games, and they didn't do that against Kansas City. There were two fumbles that led to Chiefs points and back-to-back interceptions by Cutler that hurt the defense.

"We put them in some holes offensively, especially me with back-to-back picks," Cutler said. "We left them on the field a long time."

The Broncos also have to shore up their special teams. They have allowed some long returns, and one in particular against Kansas City hurt them. They had cut the Chiefs' lead to seven points in the fourth quarter when Dantrell Savage returned a kick 51 yards. That set up a field goal.

"Special teams is just as important, we always are told that, as any aspect of the game," Spencer Larsen said. "In critical times like that we have to notch it up."

The Broncos were stunned by the loss but understood they couldn't play as poorly as they did against the Chiefs and win.

"The NFL is a tough league," Cutler said. "If you're not on your 'A' game, you're going to get beat."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Back to the drawing board." -- Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, on Denver's run defense.

LINEUP WATCH: The Broncos made a change in their defensive lineup for their Week 4 game against the Chiefs, and they could look into other changes if the defense continues to struggle. Denver replaced nickel cornerback Karl Paymah with rookie Jack Williams before the Kansas City game. Paymah was a reason Denver's pass defense had given up so many passing yards in the first three games. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said Paymah had struggled in press coverage, which prompted the change.

Denver, which had been struggling against the pass, gave up more than 213 yards on the ground against the Chiefs. The Broncos have allowed more than 30 points in three straight games, which might prompt the coaching staff to consider other changes on the defense.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--DT Dewayne Robertson was inactive against Kansas City because of a knee injury. He was close to playing, so he shouldn't miss much time. He could return this week.

--WR Cliff Russell suffered a neck injury and was taken off the field to a hospital. His condition was improving shortly after the game. He had numbness in his right side.

--RB Selvin Young had 49 yards on 11 carries. The Broncos struggled to get their running game going against a Chiefs team that came into the game allowing more than 200 rushing yards per game.

--K Matt Prater missed a 28-yard field goal in the second quarter against Kansas City. However, he rebounded to hit four field goals, including a pair from more than 50 yards.

--WR Eddie Royal had 104 yards on nine catches against Kansas City. However, Royal did have a costly fumble on Denver's first drive and did most of his damage in the second half, when the Chiefs played back to avoid giving up a big play.



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