DENVER -- In the emotion of the moment, the Kansas City Chiefs believed anything was possible. And why shouldn’t they? They had just beaten the Denver Broncos and forced Peyton Manning to the bench, two unlikely scenarios given their sorry recent history against the Broncos and their quarterback.
But this was not just the typical giddiness of a winning team, the kind that disappears long before the next game kicks off. The Chiefs truly believe there’s nothing out of their reach anymore, a seemingly odd stance for a 4-5 team.
Indeed, some things are out of the Chiefs’ reach. They won’t win the AFC West championship. Their five-game, early-season losing streak took care of that.
As far as the rest of the picture, the Chiefs have to be taken seriously, or as seriously as a team with a losing record can be, after their 29-13 win over the Broncos. They are just a game behind 5-4 Buffalo, which currently holds the AFC’s final wild-card spot, and they play against the Bills in two weeks in their next game at Arrowhead Stadium.
That’s a victory of sorts for Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who thought this season could be special for the Chiefs before it began and never wavered even after the Chiefs fell to 1-5 and lost star running back Jamaal Charles for the season.
"I kept saying, ‘I like this football team, I like this football team,’ and I guess that’s what I mean," Reid said. "I know what they’re capable of and we’ve got a lot of young guys and you need a little time to grow there. And we had some guys coming back, whether it’s Eric Berry coming back from his situation or a suspension.
"I always felt like the sky’s the limit for this team, as long as we’re in the right mindset and ready to go."
On Sunday, the Chiefs finally tired of being bullied by the Broncos. They made a stand early when rookie cornerback Marcus Peters intercepted a Manning pass and the Chiefs converted it into a touchdown.
The Chiefs didn’t stop kicking Manning and the Broncos even after grabbing the early lead. They finished the game with five interceptions and five sacks, and even those numbers don’t tell the complete story of how the Chiefs controlled the game with their defense.
This makes five straight games where the Chiefs have held their opponent to 18 points or less. The Chiefs during that time may have picked on some younger, inexperienced quarterbacks such as Minnesota’s Teddy Bridgewater and Pittsburgh’s Landry Jones, a down-and-out opponent in the Detroit Lions or an aging and injured Manning.
At some point, though, credit has to go where it’s due. That’s to Peters, the playmaking cornerback the Chiefs have long lacked, linebacker Justin Houston, who harassed Manning and replacement Brock Osweiler most of the game, and Berry, who’s playing as well as ever after returning from his bout with lymphoma.
It has to go to all of the Chiefs, who are finally fulfilling Reid’s vision for them. AFC heavyweights Cincinnati, New England and even Denver don’t have to live in fear of the Chiefs, but they have to respect them.
The Chiefs suddenly believe anything is possible and they’re in the process of proving it.