DENVER _ The Chiefs are still 0-for-Invesco. Looking listless in all three phases of the game, the Chiefs fell 41-7 on Sunday at Invesco Field at Mile High.
It was the sixth straight loss for the Chiefs, 4-9, who were officially eliminated from playoff contention. The Chiefs hadn’t lost six in a row since 1998, Marty Schottenheimer’s last season.
And the loss gave Kansas City an 0-7 record at Invesco since the stadium opened in 2001.
The Broncos improved to 6-7 and kept their faint playoff hopes alive in the AFC West, pending their game at San Diego on Dec. 24.
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The Chiefs went three-and-out or worse on all but one of their first 11 possessions. Two ended with turnovers and the other was their only scoring drive.
In a game eerily reminiscent of the Chiefs’ 45-7 loss at Pittsburgh in 2006, they spotted Denver a 14-0 lead in the Broncos’ first 11 plays.
Quarterback Jay Cutler threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley on Denver’s first possession, which took all of four plays.
After forcing the Chiefs to go three-and-out, the Broncos struck again on Travis Henry’s 1-yard run midway through the period.
Big plays set up both scores. Denver rookie running back Selvin Young bolted for a 50-yard gain on Denvrer’s second offensive play. And Cutler hit tight end Daniel Graham for 28 yards and and Brandon Marshall for 22 yards prior to Henry’s touchdown.
The Chiefs, who went-three-and-out on their first three possessions, mounted their longest drive of the season in terms of plays and time of possession when they took 8 minutes, 51 seconds to go 63 yards in 15 plays to draw within 14-7 on a 15-yard pass from Brodie Croyle to Tony Gonzalez.
The Chiefs converted three fourth downs on the drive _ a fourth-and-1 by Gilbert Harris; a fourth-and-2 by Kolby Smith; and fourth-and-12 on a 22-yard pass from Croyle to Dwayne Bowe.
Any hopes the Chiefs might have were squashed on Denver’s next drive. Cutler opened it by hitting Graham for 25 yards, and capped it with an 8-yard flip to a wide-open Brandon Marshall for a 21-7 lead with 1:55 to play.
Marshall drew a penalty after the touchdown for excessive celebration when he showered fans with snow from the banks shoveled against the stands.
The Broncos built a 27-7 lead with a pair of 37-yard field goals by Jason Elam, one with no time left in the first half and the other midway through the third quarter.
With the second field goal, Elam passed Norm Johnson for sixth on the NFL’s all-time scoring list with 1,738 points.
The Chiefs played turnover-free in the first half but Croyle committed two turnovers in the third quarter. Croyle was intercepted when Champ Bailey stepped in front of a pass intended for tight end Kris Wilson with 6:38 left in the third quarter. The Broncos converted it into a 2-yard touchdown flip from Cutler to Graham for a 34-7 lead with 2:14 to play in the third quarter.
Then, Croyle, sacked for the second time in two plays by defensive end Elvis Dumervil, lost a fumble, and three plays later, Cutler threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game, a 13-yard toss to Marshall.
To reach Randy Covitz, NFL writer for The Star, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOW THEY SCORED
First quarter Den _ Brandon Stokley 21 pass from Jay Cutler (Jason Elam kick); 4 plays, 77 yards, 1:40 drive time, 13:20 remaining. Den _ Travis Henry 1 run (Elam kick); 7 plays, 84 yards, 3:51 drive time, 7:13 remaining. The Broncos wasted little time shredding the Chiefs. Selvin Young ran for 50 yards on the game’s second play from scrimmage to put the Broncos at the Chiefs’ 21 and Stokley scored two plays later . . . No surprise here, but the Chiefs couldn’t match. They ran three plays and punted . . . The Broncos had only slightly more trouble scoring on their next possession. Cutler threw 28 yards to Daniel Graham to get the Broncos to midfield and threw 22 yards to Brandon Marshall to the 6. Henry scored two plays later . . . The Chiefs again ran three plays and punted. Will Svitek and Eddie Kennison were each penalized for a false start . . . The Chiefs failed to earn a first down on their third possession.
KC _ Tony Gonzalez 15 pass from Brodie Croyle (John Carney kick); 15 plays, 63 yards, 8:51 drive time, 6:09 remaining.
Den _ Marshall 8 pass from Cutler (Elam kick); 7 plays, 71 yards, 4:14 drive time, 1:55 remaining.
Den _ FG Elam 37; 6 plays, 65 yards, 1:11 drive time, 0:00 remaining.
The Chiefs took over for their fourth possession without Kolby Smith, who sprained an ankle. He was replaced by Gilbert Harris, who spent most of the season on the practice squad. The Chiefs finally gained a first down, but only because Denver was penalized twice for being offside. Smith returned later in the drive. The Chiefs pushed to the Denver 32, where they had a fourth and 2 and Smith picked up the first down with a two-yard run. Croyle threw 22 yards to Dwayne Bowe on fourth and 17 from the 32. After a false start penalty, Croyle threw underneath to Gonzalez, who broke tackles and scored the TD . . . Cutler threw to Graham for 25 yards on Denver’s next play. Two Young runs gained 16 yards and moved the Broncos to the Chiefs’ 30. The Chiefs left Marshall uncovered in the end zone on his touchdown . . . The Chiefs took the ball at their 49 after the kickoff. But Smith ran once for two yards and Croyle threw two inaccurate passes intended for Jeff Webb and the Chiefs punted. Young ran for 30 yards on Denver’s next play to put the Broncos on their 46 and the Broncos were able to get the field goal on the last play of the half.
Den _ FG Elam 37; 11 plays, 47 yards, 6:31 drive time, 6:58 remaining.
Den _ Graham 2 pass from Cutler (Elam kick); 7 plays, 48 yards, 4:24 drive time, 2:14 remaining.
Den _ Marshall 13 pass from Cutler (Elam kick); 3 plays, 17 yards, 0:42 drive time, 0:40 remaining.
The Chiefs went three and out on the half’s first possession and Tony Gonzalez went out on that possession with an ankle injury . . . The Broncos chewed up 6 ½ minutes on the drive to their field goal and went to third down only once . . . Croyle committed the game’s first turnover when he underthrew a pass for Kris Wilson and Champ Bailey intercepted . . . The big play on Denver’s next drive was a 21-yard run by Cutler. The drive resulted in Graham’s touchdown . . . Croyle was sacked and fumbled late in the period and the Broncos recovered at the Chiefs’ 17. That set up Marshall’s TD.
Jon McGraw got a piece of a Denver punt early in the period but it still found its way into the end zone for a touchback . . . The teams spent most of the period trading punts and Denver downed one on the 1-yard line. The Broncos almost trapped Smith in the end zone for a safety. He escaped, but the Chiefs punted again without earning a first down.
On the Chiefs’ last possession Croyle was sacked and fumbled, turning the ball over to Denver to run out the clock.
Final score: 41-7.
| Adam Teicher, email@example.com
| Adam Teicher, firstname.lastname@example.org