DENVER –And then there were none – no more undefeated teams, that is.
With the Broncos' 27-17 win against Kansas City Sunday night, they handed the Chiefs the first loss of their season and simultaneously claimed the top spot in the AFC West.
"We know, at home, we had to protect this house," wide receiver Eric Decker said after the game. "To control your own destiny you have to win these division games – and they're the No. 1 team. We were able to find a way to win and now we control the division. I think that's our biggest mindset is week-in, week-out, we've got to get better."
The Chiefs came into to Denver with not only the best record in the NFL, but also the best defense – leading the league in scoring defense and sacks. But the Broncos' league-leading offense out-paced the Chiefs with the help of an offensive line that didn't allow a sack all night.
The Broncos never trailed in the game.
"Great," defensive tackled Kevin Vickerson said when asked how it feels to be in first place. "But it's only temporary right now, so it's just something we've got to constantly work at. Next week, New England – another big test, so we've just got to come back to the board. It's an every-week thing in this league."
While the win puts the Broncos in the drivers' seat in the division, the race is far from decided.
The Broncos will head to New England next week to square off with the AFC East-leading Patriots before meeting up with the Chiefs again in Week 13.
"We knew when the schedule came out that these were going to be three critical games," quarterback Peyton Manning said "We hoped they were going to be critical, we hoped they were going to matter because that meant we had taken care of business early in the season. So, this was an excellent win. We'll enjoy it tonight.
"We'll be in there tomorrow studying this one and getting a head start on New England. Then we play these guys again in another week, which is pretty strange from a schedule standpoint. But, it will be tough playing up there next week. It always is."
As it stands now, the Broncos and the Chiefs are both 9-1 and the Broncos represent Kansas City's only loss putting Denver ahead in the standings.
"We beat the best team that was in the conference – that was undefeated," wide receiver Demaryius Thomas said. "I take my hat off to Kansas City. But after that win, I think we're the best in our conference right now."