The Kansas City Chiefs have been officially eliminated from the postseason after a 17-9 loss to the Denver Broncos. It’s hardly a surprise with how the Chiefs have played in 2012, but many had the Chiefs as legitimate contenders for the AFC West coming into the season.
The Chiefs will now play five games of meaningless football in December. The only thing Chiefs fans have to look forward to is the No. 1 overall pick. Fans now win if the team loses.
The Chiefs failed to score an offensive touchdown for the fourth time in 2012, and that left the door open for Peyton Manning and the Broncos, who only needed 17 points to secure the victory. Manning has never lost when his opponent failed to score a touchdown, and no opponent has ever defeated Manning while scoring less than 16 points.
The Chiefs executed their game plan. They handed the ball off to Jamaal Charles 23 times and didn’t turn the ball over until the final play of the game. Charles ran for 107 yards, but the Chiefs only made it to the red zone on their first two drives.
The first drive ended after Peyton Hillis threw an incomplete pass to Brady Quinn on 3rd-and-3 from the Denver 16. That’s no error, Hillis threw it to Quinn.
The trick play was obviously practiced, but Charles is averaging 4.8 yards per carry in 2012. There are better tricks than to have a running back throw a pass to a quarterback on a key third down.
After a nice return by Javier Arenas, the Chiefs were in position to get a touchdown on their second drive. They faced a 3rd-and-5 from the Denver 7-yard line and opted to let Brady Quinn throw. Quinn completed the pass to Terrance Copper, but only for three yards, and the Chiefs had to settle for another field goal.
Neither drive had much to do with Charles; he carried the ball just five times for 18 yards. It’s a shame that when the Chiefs had key third downs, they didn’t give their biggest playmaker a chance to make a play. The Broncos seemed content to contain Charles and let someone else beat them.
Settling for field goals is always a bad thing against Manning. He eventually got rolling against Kansas City’s defense with a 94-yard touchdown drive at the end of the first half that featured a 31-yard strike to Brandon Stokley, a 22-yard pass to Jacob Tamme and 20 rushing yards by Knowshon Moreno.
Kansas City added another field goal with its first drive of the second half to take a 9-7 lead. That drive featured five runs by Charles for 30 yards, but it stalled when Dwayne Bowe caught a pass that went for six yards on 3rd-and-7.
Manning would quickly drive 80 yards and cap another touchdown drive with a 30-yard laser throw to Demaryius Thomas that put the Broncos ahead for good.
Brothers Dustin and Britton Colquitt traded turns punting seven straight times until the Broncos finally made a play that enabled Matt Prater to kick and make a 34-yard field goal to push the lead from five to eight with 18 seconds left. The drive burned through over six minutes of the clock.
Kansas City’s defense played well. Justin Houston added two sacks to his total, and he now has nine on the season. Brandon Flowers also picked off Manning, but the Chiefs squandered the few opportunities they had and struggled moving the ball.