Denver Broncos | News

Fast start leads to much-needed road win

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Take a look at the best shots from the second half in Arrowhead Stadium, where the Broncos finished off a 29-16 victory.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – ** The first quarter of Sunday's game was exactly what the Broncos needed as they faced a rambunctious Arrowhead Stadium in prime time.

The Chiefs' electric crowd was muffled as the Broncos got off to their best start on the road all season, forcing three consecutive three-and-outs and finding the end zone on their first two drives.

"On the road if you allow the home team to get started, it's hard to battle that momentum," Terrance Knighton said. "So when we start slow at home it's easy for us to come back because we have the energy in the stadium, the fans are there but on the road you have to throw the first punch and you have to go out there and [if] you get up on a team, you have to put them away."

From the get-go the Broncos dominated the Chiefs as Alex Smith began the day with three pass attempts, two falling incomplete.

C.J. Anderson didn't miss a beat after a 167 rushing yard performance last week and the Broncos' balanced game plan also remained intact. Six of the Broncos' first eight plays were runs by Anderson and he averaged 5.2 yards per carry on that drive. Manning was able connect with Demaryius Thomas for a 23-yard touchdown to take the early lead.

The next Broncos drive, Anderson scored a 15-yard touchdown. Anderson felt he was challenged by Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase to get the run game going early.

"He said 'I'm going to call this run and if you can give me four, I'm going to call it again.' So I just feel like if I can give him four, if I can give him eight, then let's keep calling them," Anderson said. "I just look at it like it's a competition with everything. You've just got to give it to the big fellas up front. They know the run's going to be called first. They're going to make a statement to put it out there and let Coach Gase trust it and Peyton trust it when he checks in to run that we can run the ball."

That consistent run game allowed the Broncos to take up 38:47 of the clock and keep their defense off the field. But getting out to that early lead also allowed to the defense to thrive at every level, starting with the pass rush.

As the Chiefs attempted to claw back from a 17-0 deficit, Alex Smith and Co. were forced to take the ball to the air as their limited time on the field ticked by. Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio dialed up the blitz and the Broncos sacked Smith six times in the matchup (including twice during the Chiefs' final drive). Brandon Marshall, who finished the day with five tackles, said the defense has "breathing room" when the offense jumps out on top early.

"It was great," Von Miller said of his and Ware's success in the pass rush. "We had a great time. Whenever we can just pin our ears back and rush the quarterback, that's what we do best. We were able to do that late in the game. We were able to stop the run, T. Knight, Mitch Unrein, [Derek] Wolfe and Malik [Jackson], they did a real good job on the inside, so that Steven Johnson, Brandon Marshall, all those guys stopped the run early and we were just able to pin our ears back and go."

With their 14 first-quarter points, the Broncos nearly matched their cumulative output for first-quarter road-game points (16). This was just their second road game of the season where they were the first to get on the board.

When the Broncos played the Chiefs in Week 2, the Broncos and Chiefs had a tight battle throughout and the Broncos were able to make it a two-score game at the end of the first half. But the Chiefs battled back and had the opportunity to tie the game in the closing minutes, but Knighton batted down Smith's fourth-and-goal pass attempt and the Broncos were able to come out with the win.

By jumping out ahead in Arrowhead's booming environment, the defense got a cushion and the offense was allowed some breathing room as they were forced to kick five field goals and uncharacteristically struggled in the red zone. Despite the inability to get in the end zone after the first quarter, the Broncos maintained a comfortable lead throughout.

During their team meeting before Sunday's game, Emmanuel Sanders had a request for the veterans: play dominant, and do it fast.

"We talked about it all week — coming out and throwing the first punch," Knighton said. "Emmanuel talked to the team, and challenged the group. He challenged the best players on the team, he challenged the leaders on the team, to come out and dominate, because, you know, when you're on the road and you allow the home team to get the first punch, it's hard to come back, but when you're at home, it's easy to get the crowd into it and feed off their energy, but on the road, you've got to have a wolf pack mentality.

"We came in as a team and we left as a team."

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