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Step One

Posted Nov 14, 2010

The Broncos kicked off the second half of the season in style, beating the Chiefs at INVESCO Field at Mile High to build momentum at just the right time.


DENVER -- Kyle Orton threw for a career-high four touchdowns on Sunday.

On a chilly afternoon at INVESCO Field at Mile High, Knowshon Moreno topped the 100-yard rushing mark for the first time as a pro. Mario Haggan -- a player who tallied just three sacks in his first 97 regular season games -- picked up three quarterback takedowns in the game's first 30 minutes. Tim Tebow threw for a score on his first NFL pass.

Across the roster, Broncos achieved personal milestones in a 49-29 win against Kansas City.

But for a team still smarting from a disappointing first half to the season, the cumulative effect of those performances may have been even more impressive. With an emphatic win against the AFC West leaders, the Broncos laid a blue print for turning around the season with seven games left to play.

"We won one game, and it's going to be the same mentality next week," Ryan Harris said. "We just have to win one game. We can't win six. We can't win seven. We can't win four at a time. All we can do is one at a time. I think that kind of lets us hone in our focus more and block out some of the negative things that can come from looking down the stretch."

The Broncos entered Sunday's contest having lost four straight games and sitting at the bottom of the division at the season's halfway point. But coming off a bye week to reflect and get healthy, players viewed a visit from the surprise division leaders as an opportunity to get right back in the division race.

Denver responded by scoring the game's first 35 points and rolling to its third win of the season.

"I think we just wanted to come out and show the fans that we're not giving up," said Brandon Lloyd, who paced the receiving corps with 6 catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns. "We're still in this."

Throughout the week, Head Coach Josh McDaniels praised the Chiefs for playing complementary football and not hurting themselves through their impressive start to the season -- two of the qualities he values most on the football field.

The Broncos scored touchdowns on their first four drives and added a defensive touchdown. They finished with no turnovers or sacks allowed and just three penalties – tied for a season low.

Three weeks after a 59-14 loss to the Raiders dropped the team's home record to 1-3, the Broncos ensured early on that the sold-out crowd would go home happy.

Kansas City Head Coach Todd Haley described the Broncos' effort as "lights out."

"I know they put in a lot of time and work starting last Sunday, coming off the bye week," McDaniels said, "and I think a lot of that showed."

Several players credited their renewed spirit on Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway's post-practice talk with the team earlier in the week. The two-time Super Bowl winner told the team to block out outside critics and stay loose as they try and turn their season around.

"Sometimes it takes someone coming in to say something," Brian Dawkins said. "We kind of did say a little bit in house a little bit. But it takes, especially a guy with John's stature and what he means to this organization and to us. For him to say it, I think it resonated with a lot of guys."

Now the Broncos, who have not won back-to-back games this season, are charged with continuing that momentum through the season's second half -- a slate with four more AFC West contests, including a rematch with the Chiefs on Dec. 5 in Kansas City.

Denver pulled within two games of the Chiefs and Raiders but remain in last in the tight division race. The team can continue to improve its positioning with a win on Monday Night Football in San Diego next week.

The primetime matchup offers another chance for which the Broncos are grateful.

After Sunday's win -- and the associated career-best performances -- provided the breakthrough they've been waiting for, players understand what it will take to keep those good feelings going.

"Hard work pays off, and we worked really, really hard during this off-week and this last week of practice to put a win behind what we've been saying," Harris said. "I think we started in the right direction, and we have another opportunity next weekend."

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