Chiefs once again aim to slow down Manning in trip to Denver
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs have spent a decade trying to beat Peyton Manning.
More than a decade, in fact.
The Broncos quarterback has won 10 straight against the Chiefs, dating to his days running the offense in Indianapolis.
The most recent of them, two months ago, featured a frantic fourth-quarter comeback and two touchdowns in the final minute to steal a victory at Arrowhead Stadium.
"I think this one is pretty unique," Manning said, shortly after the Broncos returned a fumble by Jamaal Charles for the go-ahead touchdown in that 34-27 victory.
"This was two great teams. And we’ve got to play these guys again," Manning continued, "and they’re probably going to be even better the next time we play them."
That next time is Sunday afternoon in Denver.
Both teams have changed markedly from that meeting in September. Charles has been lost to a season-ending knee injury, while the Chiefs got cornerback Sean Smith back from suspension.
The Broncos have weathered their share of roster turnover, too.
But one thing that has not changed is Manning under center. The five-time MVP and Pro Bowl mainstay has weathered an up-and-down season that has led to some wondering whether he was washed up.
But he has still proven that he can get things done when crunch time rolls around.
The fourth quarter against the Chiefs earlier this season was a fine example.
After he was held in check much of the game, Manning completed five passes in leading the Broncos 80 yards in the final couple of minutes. He found Emmanuel Sanders from 19 yards with 36 seconds to go to tie the game, setting up the decisive fumble recovery moments later.
Manning wound up throwing for 256 yards and three touchdowns in the game.
"He’s Peyton Manning. You can’t take anything away from him," Smith said Wednesday. "As a secondary, he’s one of the biggest challenges we can have."
One of the biggest challenges the Chiefs can have, too.
He is 12-1 against them in the regular season, and 7-0 since arriving in Denver. Throw in a couple of playoff victories and his record is a sterling 14-1. In those games, he’s thrown for more than 4,000 yards with 31 touchdown passes against Kansas City.
Manning’s best individual performance may have been his lone defeat. He threw for 472 yards and five scores on Oct. 31, 2004, when the Chiefs beat his Colts 45-35 — an outcome sealed when he threw an interception in the end zone with less than 2 minutes left.
How does Manning’s dominance of Kansas City stack up historically?
No quarterback has beaten the Chiefs more consecutive times. Craig Morton had the previous mark of eight straight with the Cowboys, Giants and — yes — the Broncos in the 1970s.
Dan Fouts won seven in a row with the Chargers from 1978 to 1981, STATS said.
With a victory Sunday, Manning will join some select company among quarterbacks that have beaten a team 11 straight times. The record is 17, set by Bob Griese against the Bills. Others who have reached the mark include Tom Brady (Bills), Steve Young (Rams, Saints), Troy Aikman (Cardinals), Otto Graham (Cardinals), John Elway (Patriots), Dan Marino (Patriots), Joe Namath (Patriots), Roger Staubach (Giants), Johnny Unitas (49ers) and Joe Flacco (Browns).
Everybody on the list except Brady and Flacco, both still active, are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
"I think everybody knows he’s a great player," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "I mean, they all know, and I think the whole league knows that he’s a great player. You prepare for the team, though. That’s what you do. The team you’re playing and try to focus in on that, and the battles that you have within that, you try to concentrate on that part of it."
NOTES: Charles was in the locker room Wednesday, limping around on his surgically repaired right knee. The Chiefs refused to let him speak to reporters. … OLB Tamba Hali (knee) was held out of practice as a precautionary measure. … OG Ben Grubbs (neck) also missed practice. Reid said his status remains unchanged after Grubbs missed the Chiefs’ game in London two weeks ago.