KR Dante Hall's fourth return TD in as many games is helping the Chiefs find ways to win as its offense -- the team's strength during last year's 8-8 campaign -- continues to struggle. Hall amassed 223 all-purpose yards -- 93 on the game-winning punt return for a score -- in the 24-23 win over Denver. The Chiefs' offense had only 261 yards for its second straight sub-300 yard day.
WR Johnnie Morton trotted out a move from a different generation -- the "kickworm" move from the days of break-dancing -- to celebrate his second TD of the season after catching a 28-yard TD against Denver. "That was old-school from about 1986," Morton said. "I had to bring that one back for the old guys." Asked why he didn't bust the celebratory move upon catching his first TD back in Week One against San Diego, Morton -- who caught only one TD pass in his disappointing first season in Kansas City -- said meekly, "I forgot."
QB Trent Green's play continues to be a concern as the Chiefs offense posted its second consecutive sub-300 yard game. Admittedly, those two games came against two pretty good defenses in Baltimore and Denver, but Green now has a 6-6 TD-to-interception ratio and a mediocre 78 quarterback rating. He was intercepted once against Denver, but saw two Bronco defenders drop picks that hit them in the hands. He was knocked a little woozy after taking a shot to the head on a scramble near the end of the first half.
DT John Browning was called "the most under-rated tackle in the league" by coach Dick Vermeil after he blew through the Denver line and stopped Clinton Portis for a loss on a third-and-goal play from the 2-yard line early in the fourth quarter of KC's 24-23 win over Denver. The Broncos could have gone up 27-17 with a touchdown after reaching a first-and-goal at the 4. But in having to settle for a third Jason Elam field goal, they maintained only a six-point lead that set things up for Dante Hall's game-winning punt return TD.
QUOTE TO NOTE:
"I was thinking, 'Don't get a safety,' as he ran toward the end zone. Then I remembered who I was talking about and bit my tongue. I didn't want to get hit by lightning or anything." -- DE Eric Hicks, on watching Dante Hall retreat back toward his own end zone after catching a punt inside the 10 and converting it into a 97-yard punt return.
CHIEFS REPORT CARD VS. BRONCOS
PASSING OFFENSE: C -- Trent Green hit two big throws all day, finding TE Tony Gonzalez for a leaping 20-yard TD and Johnnie Morton for a 28-yard strike immediately after Denver took a 20-10 lead. But Green struggled otherwise in hitting only 15 of 28 passes for a mere 128 yards. He was intercepted once and saw two other potential interceptions dropped.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B-plus -- Priest Holmes had a decent day in averaging 5.7 yards on 17 carries against the NFL's No. 2 rushing defense. Morton helped the Chiefs run for 133 yards with a 27-yard reverse. The only drawback was Holmes' fourth-quarter fumble after a 17-yard bolt to the Denver 20 when the Chiefs were trying to kill the clock and/or expand their one-point lead.
PASS DEFENSE: C -- Denver caught KC early with a trick play, a Rod Smith end-around pitch-and-run to Clinton Portis that went for a 72-yard gain and set up Denver's first TD. Jake Plummer and Smith later burned KC in a more conventional sense as Plummer found Smith eight times for 131 yards. Plummer hit 28 of 38 passes for 221 yards with one TD and no picks.
RUSH DEFENSE: C-plus -- Portis got his yards, 141 of them with a 6.1-yard average, with 65 of them coming on a quick hitter on which KC failed to get a linebacker in the hole Portis hit. But they more than made up for that mistake early in the fourth quarter by stopping Portis three times after Denver had a first-and-goal at the 4. Denver settled for a field goal and a 23-17 lead instead of going up by 10.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- Dante Hall's 93-yard punt return for the game-winning touchdown seals this grade, but special teams did more than that. A Hall to Marc Boerigter reverse on the opening kickoff produced a 44-yard return to the Denver 45, though KC's offense frittered that away with a three-and-out. Hall also had a 41-yard return to midfield in which he seemingly was knocked down around the 30 before he miraculously slipped through a crowd of defenders.
COACHING: C -- Dick Vermeil second-guessed himself for declining an illegal contact penalty after a third-and-2 incompletion at the KC 35-yard line with 6:04 remaining and the Chiefs nursing a one-point lead. Rather than give Denver another shot on third-and-7 at the 40, Vermeil chose to let Jason Elam try a 53-yard field goal. Elam hadn't missed in 12 previous tries, and 53 is well within his range. "The kicker bailed me out when he missed," Vermeil said after Elam was wide left on the potential game-winning kick.