- Adam Teicher, ESPN Staff Writer
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What it means: The Chiefs lost both games in the season series to the Broncos. While at 9-3 the Chiefs trail the 10-2 Broncos by one game in the AFC West standings, they effectively trail by 1½ games, because Denver has the tiebreaker. So the Chiefs would need to finish ahead of the Broncos in the standings to win the division, while the Broncos could finish tied in the standings with the Chiefs at the end of the season and still be the division champion.
Stock watch: The Chiefs again failed to sack Denver quarterback Peyton Manning. They were able to get some pressure on Manning early in the game and affect some of his throws, but that pressure dissipated as the game went on and Manning was able to step into all of his throws. They were frequently asked to cover for too long, but the cornerbacks again had a tough day. That’s particularly true for Marcus Cooper, who was beaten cleanly off the line by Demaryius Thomas on one of the game’s crucial plays. Thomas had a 77-yard catch and run in the third quarter to set up the Denver touchdown that put the Broncos ahead for good.
On offense, wide receiver Donnie Avery dropped a pair of deep passes, and a reserve, A.J. Jenkins, dropped another pass. The Chiefs received some contributions from unexpected places, though. Rookie Knile Davis returned a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown in the first half, the longest such return in Chiefs history and second-longest in NFL history. Wide receiver Junior Hemingway had a pair of catches, including a 17-yard reception for the first touchdown of the game.
Losing steam: The Chiefs had everything going in the first half as they built a 21-7 lead. They came after the Broncos in all three phases with great energy and, with the backing of a loud home crowd, appeared headed for a lopsided victory. The Broncos weren’t matching their intensity. But while Denver put its game into a higher gear, it was the Chiefs who couldn’t sustain the pace. The Chiefs owned the last half of the fourth quarter, but after scoring one touchdown, their final drive stalled and they relinquished the ball on downs at the Denver 13.