Good things happen to great people and Dante Hall who has struggled for the most part this season opening the game with a bang with a 97-yard touchdown return. But the star of the day again was once again running back Larry Johnson who shredded the Broncos defense with another solid performance as the Chiefs starting tailback. On Sunday he ran for 151 yards and two more touchdowns giving him the clear edge on the sweepstakes to become a significant force in this offense in 2005.
For the Chiefs the tone was set early by Dante Hall. The Human Joystick, who scored his first touchdown against the Chargers three weeks ago, took the games opening kick-off and ran past the Broncos return team untouched into the end zone that gave Kansas City a 7-0 first quarter lead.
But the question of the day was the Chiefs defense; could they play with a purpose and stop the team that tormented them in the first game of the season.
That question was answered early as the Broncos quickly moved into Chiefs territory. But with the ball at the Chiefs 20-yard line, Denver Wide Receiver Rod Smith was flagged for 15-yard penalty that nullified a 10-yard run by Reuben Droughns that would have given the Broncos a first down. The Broncos have been notorious for the crack back block and this time they were caught as the referees called the obvious penalty on the Broncos receiver.
That resulted in moving the ball back to the Chiefs 45-yard line and the defense flexed their muscles as Eric Hicks ended the threat with his fourth sack of the season when he nailed Jake Plummer at midfield.
Sensing blood the Chiefs were masterful on offense. Trent Green engineered a picture perfect 87-yard scoring drive that took 6:26 off the clock in the first quarter. On the drive second year running back Larry Johnson ran the ball eight times for 45 yards. The last from six yards out that gave the Chiefs a 14-0 lead. On the drive, fourth round draft pick, Samie Parker made his fist NFL catch as he converted a short pass into a 23-yard gain that put the Chiefs into Broncos territory. Green was 3-3 on the drive and converted his only third down attempt finding Eddie Kennison for his first reception of the day.
With Denver facing a two touchdown deficit, Plummer went back to work. This time he used the run to establish field position and then hit the Chiefs weakness. After Droughns and Tatum Bell had the Chiefs thinking run, Plummer facing a third and sixteen at the 22-yard line, found Rod Smith streaking wide open on a crossing pattern. Four broken tackles and Smith scored his third career touchdown against the Chiefs. That cut the Chiefs lead to 14-7. On the touchdown pass, the Chiefs were blitzing and Plummer hit his hot read and that gave the momentum back to the Broncos. That was Plummer's first touchdown pass in his last 91 passing attempts.
After a three and out by the Chiefs offense, Denver took over after a poor punt at their own 39-yard line. But with success comes the spoils and that's something that Bronco fans have had to face this year with Plummer. After executing a perfect play action pass that quickly put the Broncos in Chiefs territory, Plummer under threw Ashlie Lelie and the much-maligned Dexter McCleon picked off the errant pass and ran it back to the Broncos 44-yard line. It was the first interception of the season for McCleon who had six last season for the Chiefs.
The Chiefs offense went back to work and after a nifty 6-yard gain by Larry Johnson, Broncos safety John Lynch put an elbow into the Chiefs running back on the ground that resulted in a 15-yard penalty. That moved the ball to the Broncos 24-yard line. But the Broncos defense stiffened and sacked Green on first down for a five-yard loss. After a nine-yard gain by Johnson, Green found a Tony Gonzalez on third down for a 13-yard gain that put the ball on the 7-yard line. On the next play, Green hit Eddie Kennison for a beautifully executed crossing pattern that gave the Chiefs a 21-7 lead. That was Kennison's seventh touchdown of the season all coming in the last six games.
Denver with their backs to the wall went back to work. Facing a critical third and fifteen, Plummer hit a wide open Lelie for a first down in Chiefs territory. On the previous play, Kansas City linebacker Kawika Mitchell dropped a fluttering Plummer pass for an easy interception. Facing another third down and long, Plummer hit Lelie for a nine-yard gain. That set up a fourth and two. Plummer tried a sneak but Mitchell making up for his dropped interception stopped him behind the line of scrimmage for his first career NFL sack.
On the next drive Johnson went back to work. After converting on a key third down play, the Chiefs had the ball at the Broncos 31-yard line. This time they gave the ball back to Johnson who ran untouched into the end zone for his second score of the game. On the play, Johnson made Lynch commit up the middle and Johnson bounced outside then back in and the Chiefs ran up the score on the Broncos 28-7.
After a three and out by the Broncos, the defense did their job and Kansas City's offense went back to work with 3:06 left in the first half. But the offense went conservative and Kansas City had to return the ball back to the Broncos. This time Plummer was more efficient throwing short passes and quickly moved his team into Chiefs territory. The Broncos were aided by an off-sides call on third down by defensive tackle Ryan Sims and a pass interference penalty on back-up cornerback Benny Sapp. That resulted in a Jason Elam 27-yard field goal that cut the Chiefs lead to 28-10 as the first half ended.
The Chiefs missed a golden opportunity on the second half kick-off. Kicker Lawrence Tynes kicked another short kick; the Broncos fumbled the ball on the return. With the ball bouncing near the sidelines, Tynes kicked the ball out of bounds and was unable to corral the ball as Broncos offense went back to work.
They quickly drove into Chiefs territory but cornerback Dexter McCleon picked off his second pass of the game in front of Lelie at the 10-yard line. On the play, Plummer tried to hit a streaking Lelie but he overthrew the ball and McCleon made an over the shoulder catch tying a career high for two interceptions in one game. He did it last year on the road in Baltimore.
This time with the Broncos clogging up running game, Green converted a long gain to Eddie Kennison that gave the Chiefs a first down in Broncos territory. After failing to get positive yards on successive plays, Green decided to throw the ball deep. This time he found rookie Samie Parker streaking down the sidelines for a 48-yard pass that gave the Chiefs a 35-10 lead. On the drive the Chiefs traveled 90-yards in nine plays and Parker showed some of that world class speed that had their scouts salivating at the NFL combines a year ago. Parker's emergence gives the Chiefs a true burner for next season.
The Broncos were now facing elimination from the playoffs and they had to start making plays. But the Chiefs defense held their ground and after a pass interference penalty by Rod Smith, Denver was forced to punt the ball. After a picture-perfect punt the ball was downed at the 1-yard line. The Chiefs challenged the call but Denver made a great play.
But this offense was humming and it didn't matter where they started their drives on Sunday, they just devoured the Broncos defense play after play. Johnson ran them out of the shadows of their end zone and tight end Tony Gonzalez caught successive passes to move into Broncos territory. Facing a third and four on the 40-yard line, the Broncos went on an all out blitz and Green missed a streaking Dante Hall but Denver's Champ Bailey was called for defensive penalty that gave the Chiefs a first down at the 35-yard line.
After a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty the Chiefs began the fourth quarter on the Broncos 18-yard line. It took them two more plays to get back into the end zone for their seventh offensive touchdown of the game. This team Green looked off the safety and hit Eddie Kennison for his second score of the day. On the play, Green received a great block from Johnson who was picking up a blitzing Al Wilson. Kennison coming back to the ball shielded the ball away from Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey and caught the ball in the end zone giving the Chiefs a 41-10 lead.
Denver facing four-down territory managed to get two first downs but had the turn the ball over on downs at the Chiefs 42yard line. In a strange series of events, the Chiefs attempted to pass on two straight plays, the first was dropped by Dante Hall and the other Green was sacked and fumbled the ball but guard Will Shields jumped on the ball. Still the Chiefs had to punt the ball and Denver took over.
On their first play from scrimmage, Plummer hit rookie Tatum Bell on a screen pass and he cutback and was on the way to score a touchdown. But as he rose his arm in celebration for his pending score; Chiefs safety Greg Wesley knocked the ball out of his hands at the five yard line and it fell into the end zone for a touchback.
The Chiefs added a Lawrence Tynes field goal and the Broncos added another touchdown making the final score 45-17.
The Chiefs did all the little things right on Sunday and they made a statement to themselves. They decided when they were 3-8 that they were not going to lay down the rest of the season. Instead they've won three in a row and have a chance to get back to .500 before seasons end.
Next week they'll face the Oakland Raiders on Christmas Day at home before ending their season the following Sunday in San Diego against the 2004 AFC Western Division Champs.