DENVER --It wasn't elegant. At one point, quarterback Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense went 42 minutes without playing a down. But just enough offense and effective red-zone defense carried the Broncos to their second win in as many games.
Here's how the three keys that we spotlighted prior to the game turned out:
1. KEEP JAMAAL CHARLES CORRALLED.
This specific item went out the window when Charles injured his ankle on the game's first series, ceding the responsibilities to Knile Davis and Cyrus Gray. Although Davis had some explosive moments -- including a 25-yard run that was the Chiefs' longest gain of the game -- he struggled in traffic and couldn't break tackles like Charles could, and finished with 79 yards on 22 carries and another 26 yards on six receptions -- a 3.75-yards-per-play average. Gray added a pair of carries for eight yards.
The inability of Davis and Gray to get consistent gains forced the Chiefs into 19 third-down situations. They converted 14, including three that were resuscitated by Broncos penalties, which kept them in the game even as the ground game struggled to find consistency.
- CONTAIN THE CHIEFS' EDGE RUSHERS.**
Once again, the Broncos succeeded. The Chiefs did muster a sack -- which they didn't notch in last year's two games between the teams -- after Tamba Hali burst through running back Montee Ball for a third-quarter sack of Manning, but that was the only time the quarterback was touched all day.
In the last three games against the Chiefs' elite edge pass rushers, Manning has been sacked once and hit four times. No team has done as well the last two years against Hali and Justin Houston.
3. MAKE THE BIG PLAY DOWNFIELD.
Denver wasted no time attempting to force the Chiefs defense back and create more space underneath, as Manning found wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders on a deep post past Marcus Cooper for a 48-yard gain. But the Broncos didn't have many explosive plays after that; their longest gain on the 45 plays that followed was a 23-yard sprint by Montee Ball on third-and-24, an unexpectedly long gain in that situation that set up a successful fourth-down conversion.
The Broncos had success against the Chiefs on screen passes last year, and nearly repeated that in the second quarter, but a Chris Clark penalty for being an ineligible man downfield wiped out a 55-yard catch-and-run.