KANSAS CITY, Mo. – **Trailing 21-7 early in the second quarter, the Broncos' offense reeled off 28 straight points to take a 35-21 lead that it wouldn't relinquish.
The win puts the Broncos in the driver's seat atop the AFC West with a 10-2 record and gives Denver a season sweet over the Chiefs who are in second in the division with a 9-3 mark this season.
"Big win because it was a division game," quarterback Peyton Manning said. "We played them two weeks ago in a close, tough game. We knew coming here would be tough as well. They were coming off a disappointing loss last week. We knew we'd get their best shot. They came out hot and made some plays early – had the kickoff return. We did a good job persevering, handling that and making some adjustments. (We were) able to take the lead there in the third quarter and were able to keep the lead."
Quarterback Peyton Manning topped 400 passing yards for the third game of the 2013 season and broke
his own franchise record for most touchdown passes in a season.
He finished with five on the day, giving him 41 on the season thus far.
Four of those touchdown passes came to wide receiver Eric Decker, who became the first player in team history to catch that many scoring passes in a game. Decker totaled a career-best 174 receiving yards on the day.
"We knew that to double Wes would be a scenario so sometimes Eric was going to draw single coverage," Manning said after the win. "He played well. He ran good routes and I thought Adam called some good plays. We were able to get down the field, protection held up and allowed us to get down the field and Eric was awesome. Really, hats off to him the way he played today."
Joining Decker in the 100-yard receiving club was fellow fourth-year wideout Demaryius Thomas.
Thomas caught three passes for 106 yards, including a 77-yard reception that set up Decker's third score of the game.
"D.T., he got hurt, he came back – there was a throw to him on the left side that I could tell he wasn't 100 percent – he wasn't able to get to it," Manning said. "Now, he had two critical plays – the takeoff down the right sideline, which was just a speed route, but you could see then he wasn't able to pump his arms, and then he got a critical break-in route."
While all five of the Broncos' touchdowns came through the air, the ground game helped close out the win.
Denver was able to run three minutes off the clock before punting to Kansas City with 3:32 to play and
then was able to end the game in the victory formation thanks to key runs by Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball.
Ball topped 100 yards for the first time in his NFL, finishing with 117 yards on 13 carries.
"Well, Montee was a real pro all week last week," Manning said. "He was disappointed with the fumble he had last week. But, he had a good week of practice and came in ready to play today and had a good game today against the Chiefs. That's part of being a pro – putting last week's game behind you and learning from it and trying to be better from it. It's not easy to do and I thought his run from our own 5-yard line – it was loud, that place was really rocking – and his run to get us out of that hole was a critical play as well."
Manning completed seven passes for 20-or-more yards in the win, including a pair of his five touchdown passes.
Despite the ongoing questions about his arm strength that Manning has faced since his surgeries, he said the longer touchdown passes don't have any more meaning to him than the short ones since they call count for six points.
"I don't measure the length of the throws," Manning said. "I thought (Offensive Coordinator) Adam (Gase) was aggressive and called some deep shots at the right time. Sometimes when you call deep plays, you have to get the right coverage. We guessed right a couple times and that allowed Eric to get down the field. I know it's a hot debate locally with the distance and the RPMs, whatever it is. I just enjoy it when they go for touchdowns."
Next up are back-to-back home games starting with a Sunday matchup with Tennessee. That game will
be followed by another AFC West matchup against San Diego on Thursday Night Football.
"We have two games coming up here in 11 days," Manning said. "That's where our focus is. It's an unfamiliar opponent (this week). We have one week to try to get to know them and try to get healthy as well."
Leading the Broncos into the final quarter of the season will be Head Coach John Fox, who is set to return to the club on Monday following his recovery from heart surgery.
In his place, Interim Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio led the team to a 3-1 record, including a pair of wins against the Chiefs.
"Coach Del Rio has done a great job," Manning said. "He has had great command in team meetings addressing the team and you can tell that he's been an experienced head coach. I felt like he really kept the team together.
"You never expect your head coach not to be with you the entire time. But, Coach Del Rio has done a good job keeping us together. Probably had a pretty tough four-game stretch that he had to endure, and the team responded. We are certainly glad to have Coach Fox back. Got to see him last week and it was really good to see him. Guys were happy to see him and we're looking forward to having him back in the facility full-time starting tomorrow."