ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **When the clock read 0:00 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday night, the final stat line revealed a defense that had limited its opponent to 344 yards of total offense, an average of just 4.7 yards per play and – ultimately – just 17 points.
That defense belonged to the Broncos.
"I think our defense rose to the challenge," linebacker Wesley Woodyard said. "We didn't get much love this week but that's the way we like it. We want to go under the radar. We just have to play hard every week."
While the Chiefs defense entered the game leading the NFL in points allowed and in sacks, it was the Broncos who turned up the pressure on Sunday night. Denver sacked Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith three times, forced seven Chiefs punts and recorded 10 passes defensed – ultimately putting together a performance that defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson said showed the Denver defense is capable of holding its own in a big game.
"It's a confidence builder knowing that we can play, knowing that we were on the field with another dominant defense and we came out victorious," Vickerson said. "It just shows that we can play and we did something right tonight. It's definitely a building block and something we can build on looking forward."
Leading the way for the Broncos was defensive end Shaun Phillips, who was disruptive throughout the evening, finishing with 10 tackles, 1.5 sacks and two passes batted down at the line of scrimmage.
"I want to just keep on getting better," Phillips said. "Everything I did and everything I do, or any success that I have, I always take my hat off to my teammates because those are the guys that allow me to make a play – by the other 10 guys on the field doing their job."
And while the performance wasn't perfect – the Broncos committed 13 penalties for 82 yards, something that Interim Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio called 'a little frustrating' – ultimately the defense was stout enough to get the job done and hand the Chiefs the first loss of their season.
"We still have things we can clean up," Del Rio said. "We still have work to do for sure, but good, solid performance. Any time you hold an NFL team to 17 points, it's a good, solid night."
It also laid a foundation for a Broncos defense that will look to continue to grow and solidify as the season goes on.
"We have a tight-knit group and we continue to build camaraderie and trust amongst each other," Phillips said. "And that's how we'll be a successful team, if we keep believing in each other and keep on fighting."
Ball Bounces Back
After turning the corner and racing to the corner of the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown run that put the Broncos up 24-10, running back Montee Ball made a line for the field-level wall and tried to leap into the crowd to celebrate his score.
On his first effort, he came up just a little bit short.
"I tell you what, that wall is a lot higher than it looks when you try to jump it," Ball said. "But it was just emotional – an emotional game. Celebrating with the fans and then coming down and celebrating with my teammates."
When it came to finding the end zone, however, Ball certainly didn't come up short on Sunday night.
The rookie scored a pair of touchdowns against the Chiefs, bouncing back from an early miscue where Ball and quarterback Peyton Manning fumbled an exchange in Denver territory.
"I most definitely take the blame for that fumble because it's (Manning's) job to hand me the football and it's my job to get it," Ball said. "So I'm going to look at film and correct that but I did a great job of forgetting about it. Peyton did a great job of forgetting about it and just moving on because there is still a game to play."
Manning took blame for the fumble in his postgame press conference, then applauded Ball for his tough running in the red zone.
"The fumble on the exchange was my fault. I didn't give him a good handoff," Manning said. "Montee did a great job on some runs."
And Ball made certain to show appreciation for the teammates who helped pave the way.
"I mean, I have to give credit to the offensive line because on one of them I was untouched," he said. "So they did a great job up front."
DT Dials Up the Big Plays
As he streaked past Chiefs cornerback Marcus Cooper in single coverage, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas got the big plays rolling in a big way for the Broncos on his 70-yard reception from Manning late in the first quarter.
The catch helped set up tight end Julius Thomas' 9-yard touchdown catch from Manning, which put the Broncos in front 10-0 – and it helped kick off a series of big plays from the passing game.
"I think that was big. We talked about it the whole week," Thomas said. "We said we've got to make some plays outside down the field, because they're a great defense, they pressure the quarterback, they stop the run. That was the main thing — we've got to make plays down the field and just keep them balanced out, run, pass, so they didn't know what we were doing."
For the game, the Broncos completed seven passes that went for 15 yards or longer.
But Thomas, who finished the game with five catches for 121 yards, said that there was plenty of room for improvement on offense.
"We can play better. We're glad that we won, but we can play a lot better," Thomas said. "We're going to go back and watch film and try to correct that. We went three-and-out three times in a row. We can't play football like that."
"I think we can do better as a whole group," he added.