Broncos lead Chiefs 24-10 after 3 quarters

Rookie Montee Ball scored his second touchdown of the game and
the Denver Broncos had a 24-10 lead over the Kansas City Chiefs
after three quarters Sunday night.

The Chiefs (9-0) and the Broncos (8-1) have a .944 winning
percentage – the best combined record of two opponents this deep
into the season since the NFL merger in 1970.

It’s the most points Kansas City’s vaunted defense has allowed
in a game this season.

For most of the third quarter, defense took center stage as
Denver and Kansas City combined for more punts (5) at one point
than first downs (3). The Chiefs were disrupting Peyton Manning’s
timing, too, holding him in check. Just before the end of the
quarter, though, Manning led the Broncos on a six-play, 65-yard
drive that culminated with Ball’s 8-yard scamper around the end of
the line. Ball also had a 1-yard TD run in the second quarter.

Alex Smith threw a 6-yard TD pass to Dwayne Bowe early in the
second quarter and later drove Kansas City to the 1, only to have
Jamaal Charles stopped by linebacker Steven Johnson to set up a
20-yard field goal from Ryan Succop.

Denver marched down the field late in the first half, but Matt
Prater’s 52-yard field goal sailed wide left. It was Prater’s first
miss of the season.

The Chiefs had excellent field position with 32 seconds left and
moved in range for a possible long field goal, before Smith was
sacked by Shaun Phillips.

The Broncos were later called for a holding penalty with no time
remaining, giving Kansas City one last play before the half. The
Chiefs sent Succop out for a possible NFL-record 64-yard attempt,
before changing their mind and bringing back the offense. Smith ran
for 25 yards to end the half.

The opportunistic Kansas City defense recovered a fumble midway
through the first quarter, with Derrick Johnson scooping it up and
rumbling toward the end zone only to be tackled by Manning deep in
Denver territory.

But on the next play, Anthony Sherman fumbled the ball right
back as Quentin Jammer pounced on it. Denver quickly capitalized,
as Demaryius Thomas hauled in a 70-yard pass from Manning to set up
tight end Julius Thomas’ short TD catch. It was Thomas’
team-leading 10th score this season.

Manning had his tender ankles heavily taped. He also wore gloves
on both hands with the temperature in the low 40s.

The weather didn’t seem to bother Manning as he guided the
Broncos into field-goal range after the Chiefs punted on their
opening drive. Matt Prater connected on a 54-yarder.

Manning was 18 of 31 for 257 yards after three quarters.
Demaryius Thomas had four catches for 116 yards.

A big question mark coming into the game was the condition of
Manning’s ankle after he took a low hit late in a win at San Diego
last week. An MRI showed no new damage to Manning’s right ankle and
interim head coach Jack Del Rio has been saying all week that
Manning would be fine. Del Rio is filling in for John Fox, who’s
resting following heart surgery.

The Chiefs tried to get receiver Dwayne Bowe involved early,
throwing a pass his direction on the second play from scrimmage.
Bowe was arrested last weekend during the team’s bye and charged
with speeding and possession of marijuana. Coach Andy Reid didn’t
really say much on the matter other than the standout receiver
would play and start.

Bowe came up big in the second quarter, catching a pass in the
end zone between two Denver defensive backs. He has four catches
for 57 yards.

The game brought some celebrities as golfer Tiger Woods stood on
the sideline with girlfriend and four-time overall World Cup
champion Lindsey Vonn. Several Broncos players approached Woods to
chat, including punter Britton Colquitt and Champ Bailey, who’s out
for the game with a left foot injury.

Woods also spent some time before the game with Broncos boss
John Elway, a fellow Stanford alum.