DENVER —** In previous weeks when the offense struggled to find its footing, the other phases of the team were able to compensate with a momentum-shifting play to help the team in comeback efforts, whether with a turnover to simply afford the offense better field position or to take a bite out of the deficit themselves.
But in Sunday's 29-13 loss to the Chiefs, the defense did its best to limit Kansas City's scoring opportunities yet it could not deliver a game-changing spark. Three first-half turnovers helped keep Denver's defense on the field for 21 of the first 30 minutes, and Kansas City was able to score 13 points off of the giveaways and short-field opportunities.
The Broncos fell to AFC West foe Kansas City at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
The defense kept the Chiefs from capitalizing on the turnovers to the fullest extent, and that kept the Broncos hopeful for a comeback. One Cairos Santos field goal at a time, though, the Chiefs extended their lead while shutting out the Broncos, making the idea of a comeback ever more unlikely. Kansas City was scoring, but they left points on the field and left the door open for the Broncos if they could string together a few consistent drives.
"I thought we played pretty good," inside linebacker Brandon Marshall said. "We gave up mostly field goals, except for the touchdown at the end and the first touchdown."
The touchdown at the end that he mentioned was what ended up scuttling any last shred of hope that a comeback could be had, or at least begun. A blown coverage allowed running back Charcandrick West to run out of the backfield and take a short pass 80 yards for a touchdown, putting the Chiefs up 29-0 after the extra point.
The reason that hope still remained down 22 points, aside from the team's ability to put up points quickly, was how well the defense played in the third quarter. Peyton Manning's third-quarter interception put the defense in a difficult spot with the Chiefs beginning the drive on their side of the 50, but the unit held and forced a punt. The Chiefs could only muster 27 net yards in the quarter.
With its performance and allowing third-down conversions on just 25 percent of Kansas City's attempts, the defense did its best to keep the Broncos in the game.
"Yeah, definitely, and we definitely did, but we just didn't get it done," Marshall said. "We didn't get it done on either side of the ball, really."
However, the defense couldn't help gift the offense with any sort of spark to help it get comfortable. Outside linebacker Von Miller had a sack and Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith was pressured into errant throws, but the Broncos had no takeaways to offset their giveaways.
"We didn't do much to get the spark going as a team," Miller said. "From a defensive standpoint, we didn't create turnovers and gave them a short field. We just didn't do that tonight, but that's how we've been playing all year. We were just waiting around and waiting for someone to do something."
There is no solace in making the best of a series of bad situations, particularly when that outcome is merely sustaining hope, and the defense knows that though they mitigated the Chiefs' ability to capitalize on the turnovers, allowing any points at all was disappointing.
"I mean, that's all nice and everything, but we lost, so it doesn't matter," defensive end Malik Jackson said. "The only thing is they put points on the board and scored more than we did, and as a defense, our job is to stop them from scoring more points than we do. So it's all nice and dandy; we got put in situations but we've just got to do better, and we have done better."