The Broncos held on to score in the final seconds and seal the road win Thursday night over the Kansas City Chiefs.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — **Less than a week after a game in which the Broncos' only touchdown came on defense, the Thursday-night matchup against the Chiefs shaped up much the same in the first quarter. The first stanza came to a close in the same manner that it had opened, but that changed very quickly.
Kansas City drew first blood, scoring on a 34-yard run from Jamaal Charles to cap a 78-yard drive. A majority of the 76,404 fans at Arrowhead Stadium exploded with the culmination of a long, masterful drive against their hated rivals who had beat the Chiefs in each contest since Jan. 1, 2012. And then on the ensuing Broncos possession, Marcus Peters intercepted Peyton Manning and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown, putting the Chiefs up 14-0.
When it rains, it pours, and the Broncos would need a comprehensive turnaround to bale out the water quickly filling their boat.
The offense got into shape quickly, pushing the tempo on a 10-play, 80-yard drive capped by a 16-yard Emmanuel Sanders touchdown. Following an immediate interception by Aqib Talib, Manning capitalized on a short field in four plays, finding TE Virgil Green in the back of the end zone.
After three straight punts to begin the fourth quarter, the offense got back into that same groove in a two-minute drill and tied the game up with 36 seconds remaining.
It was a different look from the offense compared to the one that put the Ravens defense on its heels in Week 1, and while Kubiak was thrilled with the ultimate result, he was less enthused with the production on the ground: 61 total rushing yards on 22 attempts.
"It just has to be demanded," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said. "If you're going to be physical as a football team, then you've got to stay committed and demand it. [...] I'm going to demand that we be a physical football team and that we line up and can get a yard. I'm not going to run away from that. Regardless of what happens, we're going to work through that and demand that we get it done."
Though the offense did succeed looking to the air, Kubiak knows it has to be able to rely on more balance. There were sparks with Ronnie Hillman bursting for a 16-yard gain and C.J. Anderson for a 14-yarder, but the consistency wasn't there.
"We know we have the ability to do that," Kubiak said. "We didn't do that perfectly all of the time, either. We kind of went to it in the second quarter and started doing it more throughout the course of the game. Regardless of whether you're in no-huddle or huddle and regardless of what you're doing, it still gets back to being able to run the ball some. If we stay in the no-huddle, we have to find a way to run the ball better."
And even though growing pains were expected with the additions on the offensive line, Kubiak sees that as no excuse.
"That's the nature of coaching," Kubiak said. "You want everything to be right. Did we know we had some young guys up front? Yeah, but some of our young guys are playing very good, too. Our left tackle [Ty Sambrailo] played very good for a rookie left tackle going in there.
"Like I said, there are positives. We've got to get better as a group. If we find a way to stay on the football field offensively, we can improve physically and do that. With our defensive football team, it should help us in the long haul. Like I said, we're going to stay committed to that. We're never going to run away from what our quarterback does best, but we've got to find a way to be physical as a football team."