What road woes?
The Denver Broncos entered Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO on a mission: exorcise the demons that have haunted them on the road. They immediately went to work doing just that, as Peyton Manning threw two first quarter touchdowns and T.J. Ward and Quinton Carter each sacked Kansas City Chiefs QB Alex Smith in the first quarter to give the Broncos a 14-0 lead. Denver would kick four straight field goals to maintain their two-score lead and win 29-16.
The first quarter was won in dominating fashion by the Broncos. Denver outgained Kansas City 122 yards to minus-10 (the worst first quarter yardage total by an NFL team this year) as the Broncos defense sacked Chiefs QB Alex Smith twice and forced three straight three-and-outs. The Broncos converted their first five third downs while Manning threw two TDs - one to Demaryius Thomas, one to Anderson, giving Denver an early 14-0 lead.
In the second quarter, the Broncos quickly extended their lead to 17-0, but then the Chiefs were able to execute a touchdown drive. Smith and company converted a 4th and 1, then two straight passes to his tight ends - one to Travis Kelce, one to Anthony Fasano - led to a Chiefs score and a 17-7 game.
By the time the Broncos and Chiefs exchanged field goals in the third quarter, things were starting to fall apart a bit.
Broncos letting the Chiefs hang around. After going 5-of-5 on 3rd downs to start the game, the Broncos are 2-of-9 since.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) December 1, 2014
The Broncos' defense and special teams did all they could to give Manning the field position he needed: Late in the third quarter, Terrance Knighton tipped a Smith pass into DeMarcus Ware's intercepting hands, setting up Manning at the Chiefs' 13-yard line; the Broncos didn't get anywhere and settled for a field goal. A few drives later, in the fourth quarter, Omar Bolden recovered a muffed Chiefs punt. Again the Broncos settled for three, going up 26-10.
The Chiefs then drove 62 yards in seven plays for their second touchdown drive of the game, culminated by a 12-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Jamaal Charles, who broke a Tony Carter tackle, to pull within 10 points. Brandon Marshall defensed a pass in the end zone during the two-point attempt that maintained the Broncos' two-score lead, 26-16.
Really, this game was all C.J. Anderson.
Photo: Peter Aiken/Getty Images
Anderson not only caught Manning's second touchdown; he was averaging 5.7 yards per carry late in the 4th quarter of Denver's win. The Broncos rushed for 164 yards in three quarters compared to 146 yards through the air behind Anderson's legs, aided by 39 yards from Juwan Thompson.
Broncos RB @CjAndersonRB9 w/his 2nd consecutive 150-yd rushing game. 1st Bronco to accomplish that feat since 2004 (Reuben Droughns).— Patrick Smyth (@psmyth12) December 1, 2014
Anderson is the first player in the NFL to rush for over 150 yards since Adrian Peterson in 2012.
Denver's defense deserves a ton of credit as well. The Chiefs didn't convert a single third down until late in the fourth quarter, and Broncos defenders forced two turnovers (the Pot Roast/D-Ware tip drill and a Donnie Avery fumble, forced by Rahim Moore and recovered by Bradley Roby). The Broncos defense sacked Smith six times.
With the win, the Broncos improved to 9-3, tied for first place in the AFC, and gained a two-game edge on the Chiefs in the AFC West. They maintain a one-game lead over the San Diego Chargers in the division as the AFC playoff race enters the fourth quarter of its season.