Chiefs lose to Broncos 27-17

Peyton Manning put more hits on the Kansas City Chiefs than they
put on him.

Manning saved a touchdown by tackling linebacker Derrick
Johnson, and the Chiefs were utterly unable to return the favor
Sunday night, failing to add to their NFL-leading sacks total in a
27-17 loss to the Denver Broncos.

”Our plan was to get to the QB but the ball is coming out
quick,” Tamba Hali said. ”He did a great job. Their team did a
great job protecting him.”

The only time they got to Manning was in the postgame scramble
to shake the four-time MVP’s hand after he handed them their first
loss of the season.

”To go sackless against the leading sack defense in the NFL,
that’s a great testament to those guys,” Manning said about his
much-maligned offensive line that came under fire after he took
such a beating of late.

Manning had his ankles heavily taped but he wasn’t hit or
hurried by the Chiefs, who came into the game with a league-high 36
sacks and left the Rocky Mountains without adding to that
number.

”I thought he did a good job getting the ball out fast and I
thought he worked the pocket well,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.
”There were times when we had pressure and you saw him slide and
throw the opposite (way) which isn’t an easy thing to do. Most guys
wouldn’t be able to get away with it.”

The Chiefs finally found a defense every bit as good as their
own and ran into a quarterback they couldn’t bring down.

The teams are tied atop the AFC West at 9-1 with a rematch
looming Dec. 1 at Arrowhead Stadium.

This marked the first loss with the Chiefs for Reid, who fell to
13-2 after the bye, and for the 32 Chiefs who weren’t a part of
last year’s 2-14 debacle.

Although the Chiefs stifled Manning for much of the night, they
never led in the game pitting teams with the best combined record
this deep into the season since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.

Treating the four-time MVP like all those backups they beat up
on over the last six weeks, the Chiefs had Manning flustered well
into the second half, but he still finished with 323 yards passing,
his eighth 300-yard game of the season, continually finding Wes
Welker or Demaryius Thomas for timely big plays that set up
scores.

Julius Thomas caught a touchdown pass and rookie Montee Ball had
two TD runs.

Most disturbing of all for the Chiefs was that the Broncos took
a page right out of Kansas City’s playbook in locating two
long-lost ingredients that are essential for any team with designs
on winning a championship in today’s pass-happy NFL: a good ground
game and a stout defense.

The Broncos only gained 104 yards on 36 carries for a 2.9-yard
average, but it was enough and it was effective, keeping the chains
moving and the pass rush off Manning.

The Chiefs hadn’t surrendered more than 17 points to any
opponent all year, and the Broncos had that just 5:55 into the
second quarter when Ball bulled his way in from a yard out for a
17-7 lead.

Ball’s 8-yard scamper in the third quarter made it 24-10.

It was quite the comeback by Ball, who couldn’t get the handle
on a handoff from Manning in the first half and Johnson scooped it
up and was rumbling toward the end zone for what would have been
the Chiefs’ sixth defensive TD when he was tackled by Manning at
the Denver 18.

On the next play, Anthony Sherman fumbled the ball right back as
Quentin Jammer pounced on it at the 26.

Manning then hit Demaryius Thomas for 70 yards, setting up
Julius Thomas’ 9-yard TD catch and a 10-0 Denver lead.

Manning wore gloves on both hands with the temperature in the
low 40s. Many of his passes were short and he finished 24 for 40.
But he wasn’t sacked and never even hurried.

Alex Smith, on the other hand, was sacked three times and
finished 21 for 45 for 230 yards and two TDs. His final six passes
after making it a 10-point game with five minutes remaining went
for minus-6 yards.

Johnson didn’t drudge off the field downtrodden, however.

”They ran the ball a lot tonight and they got the ball out of
Peyton’s hands,” Johnson said. ”If we can get up on them or keep
the score down a little bit (next time) … they’re coming to our
house so it will be a lot better.

”We’ll get a handle on it. I’m not worried. We’re not sitting
back shocked like we’re not this team that we thought we were.
We’re 9-1 and things are still looking up for the Chiefs.”

Notes: G Jon Asamoah (calf), T Eric Fisher (shoulder) and DE
Mike DeVito (knee) left with injuries.

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on
Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton