Chiefs vs. Broncos – No Ordinary Day

DENVER - Sunday was no ordinary day in Denver, CO. It marked the first time I traveled beyond Kansas City, MO to see the Chiefs play. It was also the first Chiefs' victory I've seen in person in three seasons.

As a longtime attendee of games inside Arrowhead Stadium, I strutted into Invesco Field fully confident that the day would be like no other. After a 600-mile trip across the barren and cold states of Kansas and Colorado, I saw undoubtedly the best Chiefs game in recent memory. The Chiefs won their first game ever at Invesco Field, and Todd Haley finally found an exclamation point.

I woke up and completed my usual pre-game ritual before heading to the stadium, slipping on my lucky Derrick Thomas jersey and donning my lucky Chiefs' winter cap I bought during the 2003 winning streak. It was an odd feeling riding into downtown Denver and actually becoming a minority at a football game, but in some games at Arrowhead this year, I was almost a minority among opposing fans.

Fans in Denver said nothing as I entered their stadium. Maybe they didn't want to shoot themselves in the foot, as their season was clinging on to dear life, while Kansas City's was well over. They appeared to know their quarterback wouldn't play well, and they knew their history of missing the playoffs over the past four years. They knew their team was on the verge of becoming only the third team since the AFL/NFL merger to start 6-0 and miss the playoffs.

Then the game started, and the Chiefs sent a message to their arch-nemesis, Chiefs fans back home, and teams around the league. Jamaal Charles, Derrick Johnson, and Todd Haley kicked down the door to Invesco Field, refused to take off their muddy boots, and proceeded to stomp their feet all over the Broncos' couch. It was the true birth of the Haley/Pioli era.

Previously this year, I characterized Haley's wins as luck-filled ventures. But Sunday's 44-24 victory in Denver had nothing to do with luck. It was proof that Haley will be around next season, and Chiefs fans should be there with him. I know I will be. It was the cherry on top of a 2009 season full of highs and lows.

Sunday was no ordinary day for the Chiefs' offense. The opening drive took only four plays, 86 yards, and less than two minutes before it sent a cold silence throughout the stadium. I could hear the groans and jeers from Broncos fans, but had I closed my eyes, I would have sworn I was at a Chiefs home game in 2009. When Kansas City scored, the few devoted fans who traveled with me celebrated as if they were at a championship game.

Despite a capacity crowd on hand at the stadium, there was no capacity for optimism in the home team. Walking into the stadium, I caught glances from fans in blue and orange. I got a smirk from a fan in a John Elway jersey. I returned the favor to a Broncos fan in a Neil Smith jersey. Even so, for the first time all year, my fellow Chiefs fans and I had the upper hand. While we were in the minority, our presence was quietly overwhelming.

Sunday was like no ordinary day at a football stadium. My ticket in the nosebleed section of Invesco Field cost almost a third of my season ticket in the lower section of Arrowhead. It took me a good 20 minutes to get through gates, another 20 to get through the restroom and probably a good 30 seconds to realize that the stadium was modeled directly off of Arrowhead. Although Invesco Field at Mile High is only nine years old, it's clear that it's quickly falling behind in technical advancement to newer stadiums that have large high-definition screens and enormous concourses. The renovations at Arrowhead make Invesco look ordinary.

However, the concessions were cheaper - $6.25 beers, $4.25 hot chocolate, and $4 sodas. The tailgating outside the stadium was also cheaper. Maybe it was the stadium's location in downtown Denver, or the fact I've been spoiled my whole life being around the best tailgaters in the world at the Truman Sports Complex. Parking was cheap, but that's because the stadium's location makes it easy for fans to commute.

Broncos fans were friendly, even to the enemy, but were quietly worried over their team's postseason chances. However, they weren't much for conversation because like every Week 17 game, there were more fans watching the scoreboards for the results of other games.

Sunday was like no ordinary day for the Chiefs/Broncos rivalry. The Chiefs completely dominated the overly-confident Broncos, who have been used to handing out beat-downs to the Chiefs. But the tables have now been turned. Maybe things will be different from now on, and both teams won't soon forget what happened in Week 17. I know I won't, because I'll be back in Denver a few months from now to see it again.

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