Chiefs Inside Slant: Broncos Still Haunted by Hall

The war of words began with a flourish, followed by a broadside.

The Denver Broncos got their say Sunday shortly after extending their record to 7-5 by sloshing through the quagmire of Oakland's Network Associates Coliseum for a good 22-8 victory over the Raiders.

After washing off the Oakland mud, it didn't take long before they were throwing dirt at the Kansas City Chiefs, this week's opponent in Denver.

"They know we physically whupped them," safety Kenoy Kennedy said of the Oct. 5 game in Kansas City in which the Broncos ran up a season-high 468 yards and held the ball for eight more minutes only to lose 24-23 in a battle of then-unbeaten teams. "We ran up and down the field and pretty much stopped them, besides a play here or there."

For the record, that play was Dante Hall's 93-yard punt return for the game-winning TD with 8:20 remaining. Hall escaped a squadron of Denver defenders after retreating to his own 2 when Chiefs rookie Julian Battle got an undetected push in the back that eventually took out two Broncos.

The Broncos, apparently, are still smarting from that loss.

"It was very ugly for us to lose to them," said WR Rod Smith. "We owe them one, honestly."

Added Al Wilson: "We definitely should have won that game."

The 11-1 Chiefs beg to disagree. And on Wednesday they expressed their dissent in no uncertain terms.

"I heard a quote that said we were a fraud or were scared or something like that," said Eddie Kennison, the former Broncos receiver. "Well, when you're really scared, that's when you make quotes like that.

"We'd rather be 11-1 frauds than 7-5 and hanging by a string from (Denver coach) Mike Shanahan. This weekend -- and y'all can quote me -- we're gonna put something on their ass. You can believe that!

"They'd better get ready. We're the best team in the National Football League right now, and they'd better understand that and respect us."

Informed by reporters that the fraud comment did not come from Denver players but was made instead by Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla -- who called the Chiefs "the NFL's biggest fraud" -- Kennison was undaunted.

"Then he's scared too," Kennison shot back. "He's scared of what our Kansas City media might write! Y'all need to go down there and beat his ass!"

Kennison, remember, has a checkered history with the Broncos, the team he bolted on a Saturday night before a mid-season game in 2001. Kennison said he left to be with his father, who was experiencing heart problems. Shanahan was unsatisfied with the explanation and would not take Kennison back when he asked to return.

But second-year linebacker Scott Fujita has no such history with Shanahan that inspired him to also lash out at the Broncos.

"Denver has some guys who talk too much," Fujita said. "Some of them ought to learn to keep their (damn) mouths shut! Maybe that's how they get ready to play; that's their bag. We know what we need to do to get ready, and we know what's on the line for us."

The Chiefs can clinch their first AFC West title since 1997 -- their last trip to the playoffs -- with a victory or tie Sunday. Their more pressing goal, assuring home-field advantage in the playoffs, also would get a big boost, as this is Kansas City's last AFC game.

"It'll be like playing a playoff game on the road," said coach Dick Vermeil. "Denver's a darn good football team. It's tough enough to beat them at any time, let alone in December.

"It was tough to beat them here; it took a punt return at the end of the game. They dominated the numbers in terms of yards, but we ended up winning in points. We can say we're fortunate, but we earned it by keeping it close enough where one big play could win it."

One lucky play, the Broncos would say. To which an indignant Fujita responded:

"There's no luck in returning a punt for a touchdown. It's about guys getting good blocks and having the best returner in the league. That's no accident."

SERIES HISTORY:
88th meeting. Kansas City leads 49-38, but has lost its last two and five of its last seven games in Denver. Denver won last year's game at Invesco 31-24.


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