It was the same old story for the Broncos: an inability to convert on third down, crucial mistakes at inopportune times, and failure to get the offense and defense to complement each other. The difference: loss No. 9 proved to be too much for owner Pat Bowlen, and Josh McDaniels will not be around to see loss No. 10.
The Chiefs made plenty of mistakes to prevent themselves from building a comfortable lead, but their stellar clock control and third-down defense ensured the four-point victory anyway. Some drive-killing penalties would have been a concern against a better team and need to be addressed before Sunday’s matchup with San Diego.
It’s worth noting that a late-fourth-quarter drive by the Broncos was killed by a bad call after Kyle Orton miraculously flipped the ball to Knowshon Moreno while being sacked.
Broncos: Three performances of note
Speaking of Orton (-3.9), that play mentioned above was about the only good one he made all game. Quarterback passing numbers are fickle things, but 9 for 28 can hardly be misconstrued. Unable to handle some fierce winds, Orton misfired on several seemingly easy throws and took some potential points off the board with his inaccuracy. He also made some seriously flawed decisions in throwing into tight double or even triple coverage. Under pressure, he turned in nearly the worst stat line a QB can have with zero completions and four sacks in nine dropbacks. Brandon Lloyd fantasy owners can direct their displeasure to Orton: On two occasions, Lloyd beat the deep coverage and better throws could have given him two touchdowns.
Left guard Zane Beadles (+3.9) is discussed often in Re-Focused articles because of his extreme lows and highs, and against the Chiefs he earned another mention with his highest grade of his career. Beadles was perfect in pass protection and blasted huge running lanes for Moreno’s career-high rushing performance. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Beadles pulled across formation and made a crushing block of Derrick Johnson to allow Moreno to hit the gap for a 22-yard gain. In four games at LG, Beadles has now dominated the Chiefs twice while struggling against two teams with better interior linemen (San Diego and St. Louis).
Despite collecting double-digit tackles, ILB D.J. Williams (-2.8) graded in the red — a rare occurrence. An inexcusable, drive-extending unnecessary roughness penalty on third-and-23 eventually saw the Chiefs reach the 2-yard line. Williams also couldn’t contain Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones on a couple of short passes, but his real problem was in run defense. Though he certainly made a few nice stops, he didn’t do so as consistently as usual and had some struggles with shedding blockers. On a different play during the drive when he committed the roughness penalty, Williams was in position to stop Charles on second-and-short, but was tied up by LG Brian Waters and watched Charles race by for 13 yards.
Chiefs: Three performances of note
Two Chiefs players experienced dramatic reversals from their Week 10 performances against Denver. The first, RCB Brandon Carr (+6.9), avenged his season-worst grade in the teams’ last meeting with as good of a performance defending the pass as you’re likely to ever see. Thrown at eight times, Carr didn’t allow his man to catch a ball and broke up six passes. In fact, Carr even broke up a throw to a receiver he wasn’t covering when crossing patterns caused his man (Lloyd) and Jabar Gaffney to converge over the middle. Though he could have had at least three interceptions with some better hands, Carr will probably “settle” for having not yielded a single catch.
The second flip-flop performance wasn’t quite as spectacular though: Dwayne Bowe (-3.8 )followed up his 170-yard, three-touchdown showing last week with, well, nothing. After catching 13 passes against the Broncos in Week 10, Bowe didn’t manage to make a single grab thanks partially to some bad luck (Matt Cassel couldn’t hit him when he was open) but mainly through the best efforts of Champ Bailey. Bailey spoke all week about his excitement for the opportunity to redeem himself against Bowe and vowed to shut him down. Not only did he do that, but he clearly got in Bowe’s head as the receiver was flagged for two penalties.
Left tackle Brandon Albert (+4.0) was back in full force after missing last week with a groin injury. For the third time this season, Albert was statistically perfect in pass protection. Unlike the other two times, though, he didn’t sacrifice his run-blocking for a good game protecting Cassel. On one carry by Charles, Albert took on two blockers in quick succession to give Charles time to find the edge for a 13-yard gain. The Chiefs need their starters to be in top form to entertain serious thoughts of a playoff run, so it’s encouraging that Albert doesn’t seem to be suffering any lingering effects of his injury.
For the Broncos, J.D. Walton (+1.4) earned a second consecutive grade in the green and is definitely showing signs of improvement after a disastrous first month and a half. Isn’t that what being a rookie is all about? … Eric Decker made a nice grab over the middle and is demonstrating impressive hands in Demaryius Thomas‘ absence but missed two special teams tackles. … Right corner Perrish Cox graded in the red in pass coverage for the fourth straight game … Syd‘Quan Thompson wasn’t exploited in coverage but didn’t make any plays either.
Eric Berry looked shaky in the box while missing two tackles, but did a good job in coverage and broke up two passes. … Javier Arenas blitzed out of the slot four times and came away with two sacks in a demonstration of his impressive speed. … Dexter McCluster had a 57-yard run nullified by a hold and fumbled once. … Tight end Tony Moeaki (+3.4) played well in all facets but was an especially effective blocker, both in the run game and in picking up blitzing linebackers.
The Broncos rotated linebackers more heavily than usual with six linebackers seeing the field, five of whom played at least 40 snaps. … Travis Daniels spelled Brandon Flowers at LCB for a few plays on two different occasions. … Mario Haggan sacked Cassel once, giving him four sacks of Cassel on the year — opposed to one in the other ten games.