Extra Points: KC Puts Deep Freeze on Denver

KANSAS CITY, MO - From the get-go, the Chiefs' rematch with the Denver Broncos was awkward. But the four-point deficit was just enough to send the Broncos home with a 3-9 record and put the Chiefs one game away from their first winning season since 2006.

Prior to the game Mike Eli, the lead singer of the Eli Young Band flubbed the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner." And by flubbed, I mean forgetting a good chunk of the middle of the song.

Obviously, the 67,000 fans in attendance at Arrowhead let him hear it. Not to mention, the game balls were delivered by way of folks in parachutes; they had plenty of trouble trying to land gracefully. Finally, with Mike Eli's botched attempt at singing, the military's flyover was off tempo. Things were just awkward all around to begin with.

Add all that to the pre-game talk about the eventual post-game meeting of the minds, Chiefs head coach Todd Haley and Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels. In the teams' previous meeting just three weeks ago, Haley famously wagged his finger at McDaniels and spurted some harsh words. Weeks passed, and we found just what Haley said to McDaniels.

Just like how Haley insisted there was ‘stuff' being said about McDaniels, there was just as much being said about this game. The Chiefs entered the game at 7-4, and with the San Diego Chargers slowly creeping behind them, there was no excuse for the Chiefs to lose this game. Entering this final stretch where the Chiefs hope to clinch the division, there's no room for error. A repeat of their 49-29 loss to the Broncos in November would not suffice.

I was hoping the Chiefs would have handed out foam fingers with Haley's face on it so that the K.C. faithful could've wagged their own fingers at the visiting crowd, but the Chiefs just wanted to put that all in the past. They did just that.

After the game, Todd Haley and Josh McDaniels mend fences.
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Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel finished the game 17-of-31 for 196 yards and one touchdown. That score was a two-yard pass to tight end Leonard Pope. Cassel was particularly great on this play because he was patient enough to allow a receiver to get open, not making a boneheaded play in the end zone. Cassel is now 6-1 on the season when he throws for just under 200 yards passing.

Cassel's top receiver Dwayne Bowe was targeted only twice, and couldn't haul in any catches on the day. He caught a ball out of bounds early in the game, and then later seemed to have a reception in the middle of the fourth quarter, but he was called for offensive pass interference.

Bowe was covered by the Broncos' premier cornerback Champ Bailey, and unfortunately his seven-game streak of catching at least one touchdown came to an end. It also ended his 46-game streak of having at least one reception. Meanwhile, Bowe's teammate Jamaal Charles registered his third game of the year where he registered over 100 rushing yards; he had 116 yards on 21 carries.

Rookie sensation Dexter McCluster returned to action for the first time since October and was used sparingly. He was in the backfield to return kicks only a handful of times, and fumbled the ball while on the bottom of a dog pile. He got up from the pile and began to limp around, but returned later in the game. It was a scary moment for a team that had been waiting patiently for his return, and is counting on him for the homestretch of the 2010 season.

For the most part the Chiefs held their ground on defense. Despite allowing Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno march for 161 yards, Kansas City held quarterback Kyle Orton to only 117 yards. Orton completed only nine of his 28 attempts, and Chiefs defenders could have very well picked many of the passes off.

On a cold, damp day where the temperature dropped as the sun moved away from the stadium, the ball may very well have begun to get rock solid as the weather turned. Regardless, it was just another game where the Chiefs' defenders have had a bucket-full of passes within reach, but not able to be held onto.

Broncos QB Kyle Orton had his worst passing day of the season.
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However, Kansas City's defense had no problem getting their hands on Kyle Orton. Orton was on the receiving end of four quarterback sacks—two each coming from linebacker Tamba Hali and defensive back Javier Arenas, respectively. Hali sacked Orton, forced a fumble, and recovered it himself. He did all the dirty work in one play.

At the end of the day, The Chiefs temporarily dropped the label of being a team that mainly avoids blitzes and threw the kitchen sink at Orton all day. He couldn't connect with his receivers; Denver's top receiver was native Kansas Citian Brandon Lloyd, who only tallied 31 yards on two catches.

The Broncos were held to only six points on the day, the least amount the Chiefs' defense has allowed all season. It could very well be the nail in the coffin for their head coach Josh McDaniels now that his team has imploded in the wake of allegations of cheating. Things might get awkward for McDaniels when the team gets back to Denver tonight.

Anyways, speaking of more awkwardness, Chiefs right tackle Barry Richardson blew up after he was called for a false start just in front of the end zone. He's struggled all season long with jumping too early on the line, and let his frustration show. He stormed around the sideline and barked at his coaches as he was pulled out of the game for a moment.

Frankly, it seemed Richardson was more frustrated at himself than his coaches. It showed the intensity in a normally quiet guy. A pep talk from Todd Haley and teammates calmed Richardson down, but still didn't help the Chiefs any in minimalizing penalties on the day. Kansas City was flagged eight times for 60 yards.

A huge run by Dexter McCluster late in the third quarter was nullified when Terrence Copper was caught for holding, and that score would have put the game out of reach.

The return of Dexter McCluster was a good sign for KC's offense.
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The Broncos got too close for comfort with just under three minutes left. However, Josh McDaniels opted to punt the ball on 4th-and-4 with three timeouts remaining. They were on their own 39-yard line, but were still behind by just four points. Kansas City got the ball and essentially milked the clock all the way down to just 20 seconds remaining on the game clock.

It seemed as if the Broncos' return man Eddie Royal miffed the punt from Dustin Colquitt, and the ensuing scramble for the ball looked like it ended in a safety. However, the Broncos took possession of the ball at the eight-yard line, and a failed Hail Mary pass from Kyle Orton put a cherry on top of the Chiefs' victory.

As a fitting to the 2010 version of the Chiefs-Broncos rivalry, Todd Haley and Josh McDaniels embraced each other in front of the media. Haley patted McDaniels on the head, and turned to the crowd with a gleaming smile. He had more hand gestures in store: his fist clenched in the devil-horns, and he triumphantly pounded his chest in pride. At the end of the day at One Arrowhead Drive, there was nothing else to be awkward about; the Chiefs stand proudly with a 6-0 record at home.

Haley's Chiefs had silenced the pestering Broncos and took their first steps towards their big showdown against San Diego next Sunday. Time will only tell if Haley will be all smiles again in Southern California, but if his team plays just as safe as they did today, another big win will come the Chiefs' way.

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