Kansas City Chiefs fans are serving their sentence today following a 27-17 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football. I saw one Facebook post that pictured a group of investigators searching some rugged mountain terrain for the missing Chiefs defense. Another post stated that Denver had no worries about splitting games with Kansas City this season cause they couldn’t even get to an injured Peyton Manning.
The Broncos deservedly now sit alone atop the AFC West. It may look as though they won the game handily, but I’m going to present a case to the contrary. I believe the game was won on three first-quarter plays, and had things not gone Denver’s way, the decision could’ve easily been reversed.
Statistically, it was an even game. Both teams had 24 first downs, one turnover and averaged 40 yards punting, though Kansas City punted once more than the Broncos. There were 14 seconds difference in time of possession, and Denver had 83 more yards than the Chiefs. The judgment went in favor of the Broncos, but hear me out.
Exhibit A: first Quarter (12:38)
Denver K Matt Prater hits a 54 yard field goal. His longest of the season. In colder weather at a lower elevation (e.g. Arrowhead Stadium) that kick could easily have been missed.
Exhibit B: first quarter (5:36)
Manning fumbled and LB Derrick Johnson recovered, taking it to the Broncos 18 yard-line. The very next play Chiefs FB Anthony Sherman handed the ball back to Denver on a fumble at the 16.
Exhibit C: first quarter (4:13)
On third-and-five at his own 21 the Broncos quarterback hit WR Demaryius Thomas for a 70-yard pass. Two plays later Denver was up 10-0 at home.
Take away the Sherman fumble and Kansas City wins the turnover battle and quite possibly comes away with seven points. Subtract the 70-yard pass and the prolific Broncos offense only has 13 more yards than the Chiefs on the day. If Prater misses, the away team has good field position and a chance at a long field goal of their own in the light Colorado air. The attempt alone would’ve squared them up with six punts apiece.
Objection sustained Broncos fans. The latest evidence I presented is hypothetical, inadmissible, and ex post facto. Denver won convincingly on the scoreboard. My testimony, however, is this was a lot closer game than the casual eye witnessed. Had Denver trailed (instead of led) by ten points at the end of the first quarter; Peyton would not have gone untouched. The Chiefs could’ve easily won the 27-17 decision.
For the record, I have a feeling you’re looking in the wrong place for Kansas City’s defense. It may take a couple weeks, but I’m sure Manning and the Broncos will stumble into them eventually. Hope nobody twists an ankle in the search.
Troy Alan is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TRantMedia.