Classic Battle Goes to Chiefs 31-27

On Sunday afternoon the Kansas City Chiefs did something they expected to do. They beat their arch rivals the Denver Broncos 31-24 giving themselves real hope that they can still win the division. Who would have thought after the Buffalo Bills loss that this team would be standing 8-4? But they are and now Denver is feeling the heat as Kansas City still can control its destiny.

Sometimes change is good and the Denver Broncos were hoping to put a chink in the Chiefs dominance in winning games at home in December. But that didn't happen. With just under ten minutes left in the fourth quarter running back Larry Johnson scored from four yards out giving the Chiefs a must-win come from behind victory. On the day, Johnson ran the ball 30 times for 140 yards and a pair of scores.

Going into this game the Broncos were #1 against the run. But it was the Chiefs defense that stuffed the Broncos late in the game to preserve the victory. Needing a first down to keep their drive alive the Broncos gambled and lost. They almost got a humongous break if not for instant replay.

Broncos running back Mike Anderson was clearly tagged behind the line of scrimmage by defensive end Jared Allen and safety Greg Wesley. But the line judge spotted the ball believing that Anderson had ran for a first down. After a measurement that gave Denver a first down, Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Dick Vermeil challenged the call despite the fact his record is as bad in Denver as it was in the instant replay booth.

But he preserved nonetheless and was rewarded when referee Bill Leavy reversed the call and the Chiefs secured their eighth victory of the season. Now the Chiefs head to Dallas with a steam of momentum behind them.

Still this game was no easy task for the Chiefs. The Broncos hit Kansas City right in the mouth when Jake Plummer threw a screen pass to Anderson that resulted in a 66-yard touchdown. That gave Denver a 7-0 lead.

But the offense responded as Trent Green who had all the time in the world to throw the ball on Sunday, hit a wide open Dante Hall for a 44-yard touchdown that tied the score 7-7. On the play, Hall ran past cornerback Champ Bailey.

After the Chiefs defense held the Broncos; Green went back to work guiding the offense to a six play drive that ended when Larry Johnson pushed the pile for a 1-yard touchdown run that catapulted Kansas City to a 14-7 lead with 10:06 left in the half.

But the Broncos came right back as Anderson ran the ball for a one-yard gain tying the score at 14-14 with 6:38 left in the second quarter. However they couldn't hold the lead as Green hit tight end Tony Gonzalez for a 25-yard touchdown that put Kansas City up 21-17 with 1:39 to play before intermission.

But Jake Plummer, who threw an interception in the first quarter, was masterful in quickly guiding the Broncos in the red zone. They were downright brilliant when they used trickery to tie the game at 21-21. Facing a second down from the 8-yard line, Plummer lined up as a wide receiver and back up quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt took the snap and weaved into the end zone.

In the third quarter each team hit short field goals. Chiefs kicker Lawrence Tynes nailed a 34-yarder while his counterpart Jason Elam hit a short 22-yard field goal. That made the score 24-24 heading into the fourth quarter. Smelling some momentum after a Green interception, the Broncos wasted a short field and had to settle for another Elam field goal this time from 40-yards out. That gave Denver a 27-24 lead.

It would be a lead they couldn't hold as LJ scored his second touchdown of the game and that was enough to seal the deal.

Next week the Chiefs will travel to Dallas to play a Cowboys team that has dropped two straight. The Broncos will be home to face the suddenly surging Baltimore Ravens.

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