KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs would love to run, say, 29 more plays than the Denver Broncos in Sunday night’s game between the teams at Arrowhead Stadium. They would love to have the ball for more than 36 minutes, leaving less than 24 minutes for Peyton Manning and the high-scoring Denver offense.
They would be thrilled to convert on 69 percent of their third-down plays while holding Manning and the Broncos to a 38-percent conversion rate. They would be happy if they committed four fewer penalties than the Broncos do.
They would think that if all of the above happens, the Chiefs would beat the Broncos for the first time since Denver's quarterback was Tim Tebow.
But the Chiefs had all of those advantages in their Sept. 14 game against the Broncos – and they still lost. They executed their game plan extremely well, except Denver still outscored them 24-17.
“We had a lot of things happen in that game that went really well,’’ defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. “The offense kept the ball, did a great job. I thought we settled down after the one big play.’’
Manning threw a 48-yard pass to Emmanuel Sanders on the game’s first play from scrimmage to set up the Broncos’ first touchdown. The Chiefs went on a 19-play drive that chewed 10 minutes off the clock to start the second half, but didn’t score when Cairo Santos missed a field-goal attempt.
Finally, the Chiefs, who have been a strong red-zone team most of the season, couldn’t score the touchdown that would have tied the game or given them an opportunity to win despite having four plays from inside the Denver 10 in the final moments.
The conventional wisdom about how to beat Manning and the Broncos no doubt helped the Chiefs stay in that game more than two months ago. But even if they manage that again, the Chiefs will need to make a play at the right time in order to win.