Once again the Denver Broncos defense showed the NFL that they are a force to be reckoned with, while Peyton Manning showed the NFL that he isn't quite done being The Sheriff. The Kansas City Chiefs had every opportunity to win this football game, but the Broncos outplayed them on both sides of the ball when it came down to gut check time.
On with the game balls from the Mile High Report staff.
John Elway gets my game ball for putting together a team from the top down that will fight for every game without ceasing. When he said he wanted to see the team kicking and screaming, he meant it. Moves have been made to help Denver contend for the 2015 Super Bowl and after this game you HAVE to believe that we'll be in the hunt. His message was seen first hand in Arrowhead Stadium on a short week. Kicking and screaming indeed. -Sadaraine
Emmanuel Sanders; Sanders caught 8 passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns in the Broncos 31-24 victory against the Chiefs Thursday night. He continued to show his prowess on third downs where he snagged 6 of his total catches. There is no doubt that when the Broncos need a first down, Sanders is the receiver Peyton Manning is focused on hitting more often than not. Sanders has been a blessing for the Broncos who signed him to a three year deal last off-season and has proven himself to be one of the most dynamic playmakers at the wide receiver position in the NFL. -Christopher Hart
Emmanuel Sanders said it perfectly, that final fourth quarter drive is why you give Demaryius Thomas all of that money. After several missed deep shots during the game, the Peyton Manning to Thomas connection went from clinic to route as Manning hit Thomas on passes of 22, 17 and 15 on the way to Denver putting up two touchdowns in 36 seconds to win the game. -Ian Henson
Sanders on DT: "That's the $70-million dollar man, he better be making those catches!"— The Orange Page (@theorangepage) September 18, 2015
Brandon Marshall (the real one) gets my game ball for his great defensive play in another clutch game ending in a turnover. Brandon Marshall recorded 4 solo tackles, an assist, and a forced fumble. The clutch forced fumble was then taken to the house by Bradly Roby to all but end the game. Marshall played strong the entire game, and was a huge reason Travis "FakeGronk" Kelce was held to only 58 yards and no scores, despite Chiefs fans thinking he was going to cause us problems all game. I would also like to take this opportunity to humblebrag about my game prediction analysis- I told you all not to freak out about Manning while he and the rest of the offense find their rhythm, and that our defense would have their backs again! -Kelly Fleming
For all intents and purposes, Bradley Roby only made one play on defense in the Broncos win over the Chiefs. He had no tackles. No passes defensed. No forced fumbles. And while his teammates Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. were getting interceptions, Danny Trevathan was making tackles all over the field, and Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Malik Jackson and Antonio Smith were getting sacks, Roby had a big goose egg across all his stat lines. Except one – fumble recovery.
With just 30 seconds to go in the game and Broncos and Chiefs tied at 24, Alex Smith hands the ball to Jamaal Charles, Darian Stewart and Brandon Marshall swarm Charles, Marshall pops the ball out, and Roby is there to capitalize. With an unbelievable recovery and a huge heads-up play, Roby gets to the end zone almost without being touched.
"I kept telling myself, ‘You gotta make a play to win the game. All these other guys are making plays and you gotta make a play,’" Roby said, adding he knew he would make a winning play. "I love that it came at end of the game, and that it came true." So do I. -Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann
DeMarcus Ware gets my game ball. The Broncos were only credited with 7 QB hits on Al(ex) Smith yesterday (rather shocked that this number isn't higher). Demarcus Ware is credited with 4 of them, and a sack. He also tallied 4 solo tackles. I'm guessing he had a bunch of QB hurries as well. He was a critical part of the D that forced four (special teams forced one) turnovers yesterday. He also was integral to cleaning up the defensive penalties that all but gifted KC one of their touchdowns.
Ware: "When you have those types of penalties at the beginning of the game, sometimes you have to think about why are those happening. We have to adjust to how the refs are calling the game and change what we do and we did that. We didn’t have a lot of those types of penalties in the second half. It helped out after we made those changes after halftime." -Joe Mahoney
Peyton Manning gets my game ball. Now, before you sacrifice me at the alter of "he's too old", let me explain why Manning gets my game ball. It's because Peyton Manning has lost absolutely nothing of his skillset. His mind is there, his arm is there, his passion is there. So what in the world is making Peyton Manning play like Tim Tebow for 3 quarters, only to light the 4th quarter on fire? I'll tell you: Peyton Manning is incapable of running the Gary Kubiak offense. Plain and simple.
However, Peyton Manning can still run the Peyton Manning offense like the skilled surgeon he is. Message to Kubiak, "If you want to run your 1990's offense, start Brock. If you want to win games and score points so your other-worldly defense doesn't have to bail you out, let Manning be his own offensive coordinator." End of story. 256 yards and 3 TDs were had when Manning ran his own offense. A pick six happened when he ran the Kubiak offense. Countless 3 & Outs happen when Peyton runs the Kubiak offense..... 31 unanswered points happen when he runs his own offense.
Yes ladies and gentlemen, Peyton Manning at 39 is as effective as Peyton Manning at 29. He's just in the wrong offensive system. So Gary, please, if all of your fans' love for you has a voice, allow Peyton to run more of his offense and save your "grind the game to a halt" stuff for the meaningless games we'll be playing once we clinch the #1 seed. We'll have 3+ weeks to run that offense in preparation for cold playoff games. But in order to get there, you gotta let Manning be Manning. You just have to. And THAT is why Peyton Manning gets my game ball. It's because he's the same Peyton as always, and there's no other quarterback I'm taking to lead my 2 minute offense than #18. -Pete Baron
Von Miller gets my game ball. He was relentless all night. From getting frustrated with the holds committing a costly personal foul that led to the first Kansas City Chiefs touchdown to settling down and being near Alex Smith on every pass attempt. He even added a new NSFW sack dance.
VON MILLER HUMPTY pic.twitter.com/L9tPdFAEub— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) September 18, 2015
It's looking like the sack numbers aren't going to be eye popping for anyone on this defense, because this defense has so many quality pass rushers. We could see a half dozen guys with double digit sacks by Week 17. Wouldn't that be something to behold? -Tim Lynch
For the second week in a row, Peyton Manning threw a pick six to put the Broncos behind the 8-ball. And for the second week in a row, Aquib Talib leveled the playing field. Even though he didn't return his game turning interception for a touchdown this week, what he did do was pick off Alex Smith and give the Broncos offense the ball in the red zone before the half.
Talib is playing with a chip on his shoulder. Either that, or it is because he's finally out from under Jack Del Rio's idiocy domain, but whatever the reason might be, Talib is the real deal. Having Chris Harris Jr. on the other side of the field has him salivating at the potential interceptions that will come his way. In today's NFL, a quarterback must pass the ball often, and when you have CHJ and Talib as your corners, that QB is screwed. He's forced to throw passes he doesn't want to throw, and Talib is definitely one of the main beneficiaries.
Here's to you Talib, for the second straight week, you bailed the offense out and leveled the playing field. -Pete Baron
THANK YOU FOR LETTING MANNING DO HIS THING KUBES! - Scotty Payne