Cliff Notes: Chiefs vs Broncos

They did it. The Kansas City Chiefs beat the undefeated, hated and heavily favored Denver Broncos 33-19, ending their miserable 12-game losing streak. After three terrible offensive outings, highlighted by horrific quarterback play, the Chiefs simply took the game out of the quarterback's hands and stuffed it firmly in Larry Johnson's gut.

Johnson's 198-yard performance didn't just give Chiefs fans a glimpse at the old Larry, but erased the thought of old Larry altogether. Johnson is still one of the best running backs in the NFL.

After lackluster performances in weeks one and two, skeptics began to raise questions about whether Johnson had lost some competitive drive or skill while sitting out the final eight games of 2007. But those questions were answered during the second half in Atlanta and throughout the entire contest against Denver Sunday.

During the offseason, when the Chiefs made a full commitment to Brodie Croyle, offensive coordinator Chan Gailey drew up his offensive game plan to fit the young quarterback's abilities and strengths. When Croyle went down with a separated shoulder in Week 1, after two pitiful games, it became apparent that neither Damon Huard nor Tyler Thigpen had the same abilities.

Thigpen's talents (arm strength and mobility) matched up closest to what the Chiefs had in mind when they designed their offense for Croyle, and that's why he started in Atlanta.

This week, the Chiefs scrapped the old game plan and drew up one that would prevent the quarterback from losing the game, allowing Johnson to win it. Sure, Huard was consistent and didn't turn the ball over, but the play calling didn't give him much room for error. When the Chiefs got in the red zone on their first two possessions, they didn't attempt a single pass into the endzone.

The Chiefs didn't want to give Huard the chance to throw an interception, so they threw a few short passes to the flat and ran the ball, assuring themselves points of some kind.

Later in the game, Huard did throw a few passes downfield, but for the most part was protected by the game plan, completing 21 passes, but only amassed 160 yards, averaging a meager 7.6 yards per completion. If the Chiefs were going to beat the Broncos, they were going to need good defense and a heavy dose of Larry Johnson. They got both.

After carrying the ball only 12 times in the Chiefs depressing Week 2 loss to Oakland, Johnson lobbied for more touches, saying that he needed to get in a rhythm, and that if he wasn't running the ball, nobody should. He got his wish Sunday, carrying the ball 28 times, the most he's taken since a 31-carry outing against the Bengals a year ago.

Get used to this Larry-centric game plan, because it's probably going to be what the Chiefs implement every game until Croyle's return. After an impressive win over a hated division rival, fans are in love with the plan, but if the uber-conservative play calling continues, they will surely become frustrated with the lack of aggression.

WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories