For the first time since their home game against Buffalo, the Chiefs offense sputtered. But it didn't matter because KC's amped up defense was ready to play. On the backs of players like Brandon Carr, Brandon Flowers, Tamba Hali, Eric Berry, and Glenn Dorsey, the Chiefs defense held a frustrated Kyle Orton to a season low 117 yards passing. On the afternoon, the Broncos quarterback completed just nine of 28 passes.
But if that's not enough to ring your Christmas bell, how about holding the league's top rated wide receiver in Brandon Lloyd to a pair of receptions. Still not willing to stuff your stockings with playoff tickets?
Before the game started, the Chiefs received an early present. During warm-ups, injured Cornerback Brandon Flowers was cleared to play when almost everyone, including Flowers himself, thought he would be a scratch for Sunday's AFC West battle. But it wasn't just Flowers that made the biggest impact on Sunday but rather his fellow namesake Brandon Carr.
Carr had a career day while covering Lloyd most of the afternoon. He knocked down five of the nine passes headed his direction. After the game, his head coach, had plenty to say about his cornerbacks effort on Sunday.
"The defense was unbelievable. The back-end guys were off the charts" Haley said of his developing secondary. "Brandon Carr has continued to take big steps and competed today. From the sidelines I thought he played a terrific game as did the rest of the pass defense".
But Carr was not the only defensive back to have a breakout game.
Cornerback Brandon Carr had his best day as a Chief.
Rookie safety Eric Berry played the best game of his young career as he led the team with seven tackles and deflected two errant Orton passes. His pass coverage skills have improved so much in the last month that he's finally beginning to understand his role on this defense.
Though the defense missed some opportunities to gain turnovers, it's hard to get on them about that. They kept the Broncos out of the end zone. And that's an enormous accomplishment. We're going to find out how good this defense is when they travel to San Diego next Sunday.
But the key Sunday was the pressure that the Chiefs defense was able to get on Orton. And the man most responsible for that was defensive end Tamba Hali. His two sacks against Denver give him ten on the season. And if Kansas City is going to win even tougher games down the stretch, his sack totals need to rise.
And the chances of that happening are very good. Hali is about to finish up his rookie contract and he's looking for a big payday from the Chiefs. If he continues to play like he did on Sunday it will be hard for the Chiefs to offer him anything less.
For the second time in three games, rookie cornerback Javier Arenas spent some time in the backfield. He registered two sacks on the day and its becoming clear that Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel is beginning to take off the shackles.
Arenas came to the Chiefs as the best corner blitz man in college. It's important going forward that he continues to register sacks. This team has to put more pressure on the quarterback and with his knack to take down quarterbacks, he's going to be counted on to dial it up over the next four games.
But his development is one of the reasons that this defensive secondary is growing by leaps and bounds.
Next week their task will be even greater when they travel to San Diego. The Chiefs secondary is going to be tested. But if they can put pressure on Philip Rivers like they did against Kyle Orton, the young secondary has the opportunity to make a statement.
Either way the Chiefs defensive arsenal is beginning to unload more and more of it's talent. And if they want to all but lock up the AFC West next Sunday, they need all of their bullets hitting their targets in San Diego.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
What did you think of Carr, Flowers and Barry?