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AFC West Rundown: Week 8


Kansas City Chiefs (8-0)**

Week 8: Won 23-17 vs. Cleveland

How it happened:The Chiefs completed a perfect first half of their 2013 campaign by holding off the Browns in the fourth quarter at Arrowhead Stadium. Although the Chiefs allowed a season-high 283 passing yards, Kansas City clamped down when it mattered most, allowing quarterback Jason Campbell to complete just five passes in the fourth quarter. After jumping out to a 20-7 lead, the Browns whittled the score to 20-17 after Campbell found running back Fozzy Whittaker for a 17-yard touchdown with 9:58 left in the third quarter. That was the final time the Browns would get on the scoreboard, as Kansas City shut out Cleveland for the game's final 24:58. 

It was over when:Campbell's pass on fourth-and-7 from the Cleveland 31 was dropped by wide receiver Davone Bess with 2:01 to play.

Key performer:Quarterback Alex Smith completed 24 of 36 passes for 225 yards and a pair of second quarter touchdown passes – a 12-yarder to running back Anthony Sherman and a 28-yarder to wide receiver Dexter McCluster. Smith's passing performance was good for a 102.2 quarterback rating, and he added 40 rushing yards.

What's next:After a three-game home stand, the Chiefs will hit the road when they travel to Buffalo on Sunday for a showdown with the Bills (3-5).

Between the hash marks:

-Sunday marked the third-consecutive game that the Chiefs did not cede a single fourth quarter point. The last points they allowed came on a 9-yard touchdown run by Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick with 14:52 left in Kansas City's 26-17 win in Week 5. Kansas City has only given up 17 points in the fourth quarter this season.

-Running back Jamaal Charles (74 rushing yards, 46 receiving yards) extended his streak to seven consecutive games of finishing with over 100 combined yards.

Oakland Raiders (3-4)

Week 8: Won 21-18 vs. Pittsburgh

How it happened:The Raiders got back on track by jumping out to a 21-3 halftime lead over the Steelers and establishing a powerful rushing attack from the game's opening snap. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor raced 93 yards for a touchdown on the first play of scrimmage, setting an NFL record for longest rushing touchdown recorded by a quarterback in the process. Oakland finished the game with 197 rushing yards – 182 of which came in the first half. The Raiders weathered a pair of late Steelers touchdowns in holding off Pittsburgh.

It was over when:Running back Rashad Jennings recovered the Steelers' onside kick attempt with 1:24 remaining, effectively vanquishing all hope of a comeback.

Key performer:While Pryor provided the game's most electrifying moment, running back Darren McFadden finished with 73 yards on 24 carries with a pair of touchdowns, finding the end zone from 7 yards out in the first quarter and from four yards out just before the half.

What's next:The Raiders will look to continue their momentum when they host the Eagles on Sunday.

Between the hash marks:

-The win not only pulled the Raiders back within one game of .500 – it also broke Oakland's 10-game streak of losing its first game after a bye week.

-Pryor cracked the 100-yard rushing mark for the second time this season. The third-year quarterback is the Raiders' leading rusher on the season, and Pryor's 391 rushing yards tie him with the Jaguars' Maurice Jones-Drew for seventh-most in the AFC.

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San Diego Chargers (4-3)

Week 8: The Chargers had their bye week.

How it happened:N/A

It was over when:N/A

Key performer:N/A

What's next:Winners in three of their last four, the Chargers will look to continue their hot play after a week of rest when they travel to Washington to play the Redskins (2-5).  

Between the hash marks:

-Quarterback Philip Rivers' 111.1 quarterback rating through seven games is second in the NFL only to Peyton Manning's 119.4 mark. After posting marks of 88.6 and 88.7 in 2012 and 2011, Rivers has raised his efficiency significantly this season; after throwing 35 interceptions in the previous two seasons, the Chargers quarterback has only been picked five times this year. Part of that turnaround may be due to the improved protection Rivers has received this year – he has only been sacked 11 times in 2013 after being taken down 79 times in the previous two seasons.

-The AFC West holds a 9-1 edge over NFC East opponents this season. The Chargers won at Philadelphia 33-30 in Week 2 and beat the Cowboys 30-21 in San Diego in Week 4. San Diego will host the Giants in Week 14.

Denver Broncos (7-1)

*Week 8: Won 45-21 vs. Washington *

How it happened:The Broncos scored 38 unanswered points – 31 of which came in the fourth quarter – to rally back against the Redskins and get back on track with a win headed into the bye week. After falling behind 21-7, the Broncos dug themselves out of the hole with a combination of a balanced offensive attack and a ferocious defensive pass rush that created a series of turnovers. Quarterback Peyton Manning threw three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter – perhaps none bigger than a 1-yard score to tight end on fourth down that tied the game at 21 with 14:56 to play, and the defense rallied by forcing five Redskins turnovers in the game's final 15 minutes.   

It was over when:Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie sealed the door shut on the Redskins by stepping in front of backup quarterback Kirk Cousins' pass and returning it 75 yards for a touchdown with 2:07 to play.

Key performer:Manning completed 30-of-44 passes for 354 yards and four touchdowns – the quarterback's 87th career 300-yard passing game. Manning's three touchdown strikes in the fourth quarter ultimately helped make the difference in the game, as the quarterback recorded his 50th career game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime, most in NFL history.

What's next:The Broncos enter the bye week to rest up before a four-game stretch involving a trip to San Diego, a home date with the Chiefs, and back-to-back road games at New England and Kansas City.

Between the hash marks:

-The 31 points scored in the fourth quarter represented the best mark for a single quarter in franchise history.

-Wide receiver Wes Welker caught his league-leading ninth touchdown of the season – meaning that it's also only taken Welker eight games in a Bronco uniform to tie his career high in single-season touchdowns.

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