Kansas City, Mo. Make no mistake about it: The Kansas City Chiefs were out to avenge a 20-point loss to the Denver Broncos three weeks ago.
None of the Chiefs said so during the week leading up to Sunday’s rematch, but after their ragged 10-6 victory over the Broncos, there was no denying the game was extra special.
“The performance they put on us three weeks ago was disheartening. It was embarrassing,” cornerback Brandon Carr said. “We had a sick feeling in us.”
Jamaal Charles ran for 116 yards, and Matt Cassel threw a three-yard pass to Leonard Pope for the only touchdown as the Chiefs (8-4) improved to 6-0 at home and remained in first place in the AFC West.
Knowshon Moreno ran for 161 yards for the Broncos (3-9), who are enduring one of their worst stretches in decades, losing 17 of their last 22 games under coach Josh McDaniels.
McDaniels, who was snubbed in the postgame handshake by Chiefs coach Todd Haley after the 49-29 loss in Denver, actually got a postgame hug and a pat on the head this time.
“There were some penalties and turnovers and different things that kind of swayed momentum a little bit,” McDaniels said. “We just never could finish once we got down there in the red zone. They deserve a lot of credit, that’s why they’re where they’re at. They played and coached well today. That’s why they are on top of the division.”
Dwayne Bowe, who had caught a touchdown pass in a team-record seven straight games and came in leading the NFL with 14 touchdown catches, was held without a catch by cornerback Champ Bailey.
“He is a true pro,” said McDaniels, “a guy that is a big-time competitor. (Bowe) is a receiver who we think is certainly one of the very best in this league and has had a great stretch.”
Kyle Orton, who came in leading the NFL in yards passing, was 9-of-28 for 117 yards.
“They did some different things with their coverages,” McDaniels said. “We just didn’t have a great day. When we had our opportunities, we didn’t make those plays.”
The Broncos, with one of the league’s poorest rushing games, had only 12 yards on the ground in the first quarter but finally started creating holes for Moreno in the second. Moreno had gains of 13, 10 and eight yards on successive carries, setting up Matt Prater’s 25-yard field goal before Cassel led K.C. 44 yards in eight plays in the final seconds of the half to set up Ryan Succop’s 47-yard field goal.
Cassel, after missing his first three passes, was 4-of-4 in an 11-play drive in the first quarter that spanned 70 yards and was ended by his three-yard TD pass to a wide-open Pope in the end zone.