4:25 PM ET, December 1, 2013
Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Sunday Blitz: Broncos-Chiefs Recap
If you're playing wide receiver for the Denver Broncos, and you manage to get yourself open, you can bet that Manning is going to find a way to get you the ball.
More Broncos-Chiefs coverage
The Broncos showed they are more than a fair-weather team by taking the Chiefs best punch, overcoming it and setting themselves up for an AFC West title as their head coach John Fox returns, writes Jeff Legwold. Story
The Chiefs came out of the gate like they were taking charge of the division, only to be shown just how far they really are from being a championship team, writes Adam Teicher. Story
Sunday's huge day against the Chiefs by Eric Decker, Denver's fourth receiving option, is a reminder of just how loaded the Broncos offense is, writes Jeffri Chadiha. Story
On Sunday, he rewarded Eric Decker all afternoon.
Manning threw for 403 yards and five touchdowns, four of them to Decker, and the Broncos held off a rally to beat the Chiefs 35-28 and seize control of the AFC West.
"I think he showed people why he's so great," Decker said. "How we run our offense, we're very versatile as far as going inside, outside, left, right, whatever it may be. Fortunately I had some play calls and took advantage of the opportunities I got."
Decker had eight catches for a career-high 174 yards for the Broncos (10-2), who moved a game clear of the Chiefs (9-3) in the division.
With four games left, Denver also holds the tiebreaker by virtue two wins over Kansas City in the past three weeks. The Broncos have the AFC's best record.
"It was a great, gritty effort on the road," said interim coach Jack Del Rio, who led Denver to a 3-1 mark while John Fox was recovering from heart surgery. Fox is due back Monday.
"We figured they would have some type of surge early and I loved the way our guys responded," Del Rio said. "It puts us in first place and now we'll go welcome Coach Fox back."
The Chiefs jumped out to a 21-7 lead, but the Broncos answered with 28 points. Jamaal Charles scored from a yard out with 6:32 left to get Kansas City within a touchdown, and then the Chiefs forced a punt with 3:32 remaining to get the ball back.
"Hard-fought game," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "Two good football teams playing each other, and it came right down to the end."
Smith threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns for Kansas City, while Knile Davis returned a kickoff 108 yards for another score. Charles finished with 93 yards rushing.
Denver won despite missing a slew of injured players, including three starters on defense and tight end Julius Thomas, who has developed into one of Manning's favorite red-zone options.
No need to worry. Decker more than shouldered the burden.
SportsNation: Broncos win in K.C.
The Broncos took control of the AFC West on Sunday. How far will they go? What do you make of the Chiefs? Vote! »
The fourth-year pro caught a 41-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, two more TD passes in the third and a short fade for a score in the fourth quarter.
Most of the time, Decker was going against Chiefs defensive back Marcus Cooper, an undrafted free agent who'd become a starter.
Manning has 41 TD passes, breaking his franchise record of 37 set last season.
"Sometimes, when you play a team close to back-to-back, there are some ideas that are fresh in your mind," Manning said. "We thought there were some chances to get down the field in that first game that we never got to. We wanted to get to some of those plays."
The Chiefs, who lost for the third straight week, squandered far too many chances, including one right out of the gate when Smith was picked off by Wesley Woodyard in the end zone.
Still, Kansas City seemed to have more energy in the first half.
It was the longest return in franchise history, and the first TD return by a Chiefs player since Charles took a kickoff back against the Steelers during the 2009 season.
Smith's touchdown pass to Anthony Fasano made it 21-7.
That's went Denver scored 28 unanswered points.
Manning hit Knowshon Moreno for a short TD just before halftime, and then hit Decker with two more touchdown passes in the third quarter. Decker's fade catch for a TD made it 35-21 early in the fourth, and that turned out to be all the points the Broncos needed.
"Losses are the nature of the game," Smith said. "Earlier in the year we were coming out the other end of it. We just have to continue to fight. I think this team has that kind of character. We still have everything we want in front of us."
Chiefs TE Fasano (concussion) and LT Branden Albert (knee sprain) left the game and did not return. ... Charles became the first Chiefs RB with four 1,000-yard rushing season. ... It was Decker's sixth career 100-yard game. ... Denver has won 10 straight vs AFC West. ... Manning went over 4,000 yards passing for the 13th time.
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 01: Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos is forced to throw the ball...(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from Penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||8.1||6.7|
Comp - Att
Yards per pass
Sacks - Yards Lost
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||3-3||3-5|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||1|
|TD||02:41||Junior Hemingway 17 Yd Pass From Alex Smith (Ryan Succop Kick)||0||7|
|TD||14:53||Eric Decker 41 Yd Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick)||7||7|
|TD||14:40||Knile Davis 108 Yd Kickoff Return (Ryan Succop Kick)||7||14|
|TD||10:57||Anthony Fasano 12 Yd Pass From Alex Smith (Ryan Succop Kick)||7||21|
|TD||04:16||Knowshon Moreno 3 Yd Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick)||14||21|
|TD||11:51||Eric Decker 37 Yd Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick)||21||21|
|TD||06:48||Eric Decker 15 Yd Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick)||28||21|
|TD||14:16||Eric Decker 1 Yd Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick)||35||21|
|TD||06:32||Jamaal Charles 1 Yd Run (Ryan Succop Kick)||35||28|
Jamaal Charles had 21 touches for 120 yards Sunday, almost twice as many yards from scrimmage as in the Chiefs' Week 11 loss to the Broncos (66). Charles has at least 120 yards from scrimmage in eight games this season, most of any player in the league.
Peyton Manning had a 97.2 Total QBR Sunday, his highest in a game since Week 17 last season, also against the Chiefs (99.0). Manning has posted a Total QBR above 90.0 in 13 games since he joined the Broncos, easily the most in the NFL.[+]
Eric Decker: 1st player in Broncos history with 4 Rec TD in game
With Justin Houston on the field this season, opposing QB are posting a 27.9 Total QBR, while completing 54.8 pct of their passes. Opposing QB have thrown more interceptions than touchdowns with Houston on the field. Without Houston, opposing quarterbacks are much more productive, completing just under 66 pct of their passes, while posting a Total QBR of 94.4.[+]
Opposing QB This Season - With Justin Houston On/Off Field
Peyton Manning completed 8-of-10 passes 15 or more yards downfield for 268 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Entering Sunday, Manning had been off-target (over or underthrown) on almost 60 percent of his deep attempts in the three games since Denver's bye. Manning missed on one of his 10 deep attempts Sunday. - Manning completed as many deep passes to Eric Decker (5-of-6, 3 TD, Int targeting Decker at least 15 yards downfield) as he had total deep completions in his previous three games combined. - Decker is the first player to catch three passes more than 30 yards downfield in a single game since Malcolm Floyd in Week 5 of 2010 against the Raiders. - Manning's completion percentage on deep throws (80 percent) was his highest since the start of 2006 (Stats and Info's data set) in a game with more than five deep attempts.[+]
Peyton Manning Passing At Least 15 Yds Downfield, Last 4 Games
The Broncos sent at least five rushers after Alex Smith on half of his dropbacks (23-of-46), a season high for the Denver defense. Though Smith wasn't sacked, he finished with a negative TD-Int differential against the blitz for only the second time this season.[+]
Alex Smith Passing by Pass Rushers, Sunday
Here's a look at the impact that Tamba Hali and Justin Houston have on defense. Hali and Houston have 1 more forced fumble and 3 more sacks than the rest of the team combined this season.[+]
Dynamic Duo - Chiefs Defense This Season
A big reason the Broncos were able to hand the Chiefs their 1st loss in Week 11 was Peyton Manning's ability to be productive on offense, despite Tamba Hali and Justin Houston's presence on defense. Manning completed 6 pct more of his passes than all other opposing QB vs the Chiefs combined this season, while posting a 66.5 Total QBR (41.7 points better than all other QB combined).[+]
Demaryius Thomas' 77-yard catch had 55 yards after the catch. That's the fifth play this season on which the Chiefs defense has allowed at least 40 YAC, tied for most in the league (Rams).
What a game for Eric Decker as he hauls in 4 touchdown receptions... in the past 10 seasons he's just the 4th player to manage that. Marvin Jones of Cincy did it earlier this season, but before them only Randy Moss and Terrell Owens had at least 4 touchdown catches in a game in that span.[+]
ESPN Stats & Information