The dazzling defensive demonstration definitely was worthy of the league-leading Chiefs.
Only, comma, it was put on by the hometown Broncos, exclamation mark!
The Broncos punctuated the Chiefs in the “Game of the Millennium” 27-17, period.
On a Sunday night when the moon above was full, the Chiefs below generally came up empty against the Orange’s most crushing defense of the season.
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The last two times the Broncos held opponents to fewer than 17 points was last season.
The Chiefs scored only 9 at home and just 3 here in the Broncos’ games of 2012. In the final game of 2011, the Chiefs had seven points in Denver. The Broncos have KC’s number.
Arriving at this crucial divisional matchup in the 10th of 16 games, the Chiefs were allowing only 12.3 points per, and nobody had scored more than 17. The Broncos have permitted the Chiefs an average of 9.75 points over four games.
Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, who had been managing well in nine consecutive victories, completed only 19-of-43 passes against a dominant defense that produced three sacks for 30 yards, five QB hits, plenty of hurry-hurries and rock-solid coverage. Shaun Phillips, Danny Trevathan, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Wesley Woodyard and the interior linemen no longer belong in the league’s low end.
Meanwhile, the Broncos scored 27 in a quality-control performance by Peyton Manning (323 yards, but only one touchdown throw) and his offense. Interestingly, Knowshon Moreno outgained Jamaal Charles 79-78 rushing yards, and Montee Ball added 25 and two short touchdown bursts. DeMaryius Thomas had a 70-yard reception among his five for 121 yards.
Of course, these teams play again in a fortnight in KC.
With the Chiefs and the Broncos 9-1 now, a tiebreaker to decide the champions of the AFC West and the No. 1 seed in the AFC becomes a genuine issue. It’s quite possible that the common opponents of the Broncos and the Chiefs could be brought into play.
And there have been a lot of common — very common — opponents on both schedules.
After the Sunday afternoon results, the Broncos and the Chiefs combined have beaten only one team barely above .500. The Eagles, who had lost to both Denver and K.C., whipped Washington to ascend to 6-5.
The Broncos have lost to the 7-3 Colts. The Chiefs confront the Colts in Kansas City in their next-to-last game. Sunday the Broncos play at the Patriots, 7-2 before Monday night’s game at Carolina. The Chiefs are at home against the Chargers.
The Chiefs and the Broncos will face 14 common opponents, including Oakland and San Diego each twice.
The only differences are the Broncos have New England and Baltimore, the Chiefs have Buffalo and Cleveland. The Broncos blew out the Ravens in the opener, and the Chiefs have defeated the Bills and the Browns.
The Broncos and the Chiefs could end up, realistically, 14-2, 13-3 or 12-4.
What happens then?
The first tiebreaker is head-to-head, and if the Broncos prevail again at Arrowhead Stadium, the matter is settled in case of identical records.
Should the teams split and have the same overall record at the conclusion of the regular season, the second tiebreaker is division record. The Chiefs and the Broncos could be 5-1, although the Chiefs’ finale in San Diego and the Broncos’ 16th game, in Oakland, might be very important
What’s the next tiebreaker? Common opponents. The fourth tiebreaker is conference record, and that could be a deal-breaker for the Broncos with a loss in Foxborough.
The Chiefs have no more out-of-division conference games left.
Yet, if the Broncos win over the Patriots, and Kansas City and Denver also have matching conference records, the tiebreaking measure goes to No. 5, and the Broncos would be secure.
Fifth is strength of victory. The Broncos’ victories over the Ravens and, assuming, the Patriots would be stronger, by virtue of those two teams’ records, over the Chiefs’ victories against the Browns and Cleveland.
Is that clear as Mississippi River mud? Is the division uncertain and unpredictable?
Did the victory by the Broncos Sunday night determine anything?
Yes. The Broncos certainly were superior to the Chiefs on offense and principally and particularly on defense. No question mark.