Denver Was Better Than The Chiefs

The Denver Broncos were better than the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday evening.

There. I said it. I suggest you say it out loud too. Maybe it will help you move past the “groans”, the “no-fairs” and the “what-ifs.”

Not to worry. The Broncos are probably leading the division for no more than the next seven days and then we’ll see who’s better when Denver visits Kansa City in 11 days. That may be presumptive on my part, yes but, with the Donkeys visiting the 7-2 New England Patriots (coming off a disappointing road loss to the Panthers) this coming weekend and the Chiefs playing host to the descending 4-6 San Diego Chargers, it’s safe to say the Chiefs could be leading the Broncos by a game — again — when the two meet next time in Arrowhead.

Could you look at the Chiefs game and take away some positives? Sure, but I’m going to stick with pointing out how the Broncos were better with the idea of seeing exactly how the Chiefs must change their game plan if they are going to come out on top in the next tiff.

First of all, the Broncos defense looked like the Chiefs defense was supposed to look. Sacking and knocking down the oppositions QB was not supposed to be the Denver scenario… it was supposed to be what the Chiefs were to do to the notorious Peyton Manning.

The team that wins… most of the time… in the NFL, is the team that sacks and knocks the opponents QB on his but and puts pressure on him throughout the game.

Denver was better… at doing that than the Chiefs.

I don’t want to hear about the fact that Peyton Manning releases the ball faster than a cobra releases his venom. Why have other teams gotten to him but not the Chiefs? I’ll put money on the game this coming Sunday evening and say that the Patriots get to Manning more than once. So, why can’t the Chiefs? That’s rhetorical and needs no discussion.

If the Chiefs are to have a winning effort in 11 days, they must flip that script.

If Alex Smith continues to be the Alex Smith we saw on Sunday evening, he will never have a rivalry with Peyton Manning. It’s the nature of competing. You must raise your level of play to match your adversaries or you will never be considered someone to fear. Right now, I don’t see it. Could it all turn around in 11 days? I hope so but, I didn’t see evidence that this will be happening soon. Does that make me an Alex Smith hater? Not nearly.

It’s just that Denver was better at the QB position on Sunday evening. No contest.

I moved to Kansas City in 1976. In 1978, as a 26 year old man I once had a competitive experience I’ll never forget. A gym I used to frequent and get involved in pick-up basketball games was nearly empty when I went to visit this particular day. In walked the 6-6 all-star forward for the local high school and he came over and asked me if I’d like to play a game to ten, one point per basket, you make it you take it. I said yes of course and before I go any further I should mention I am 5-11 on a good day and still dealing with two left knee surgeries which I have learned to manage but have often placed me at a disadvantage. I knew this young man was cocky and I took advantage of that. I hit my first shot from long range and so he had to respect that shot. The further out he moves the more I could fake him and get him in the air and move under him for protected shots on the other side of the rim where he couldn’t blocked my close in bank shots. I never doubted I could win… but knew I could lose. I stayed focus on what worked and even got creative by throwing the ball at the backboard and moving quickly to get my own rebounds. In the end… I won. He asked for another game immediately and I refused of course and told him I didn’t want to embarrass him. :)

I won because I raised my game to the competition, and beyond.

I didn’t see that on Sunday evening. Personally, I believe the K.C. Chiefs are a more talented team than the Denver Broncos. However, on Sunday evening, Denver was better.

The Chiefs are a still a relatively young team and home cooking the next two weeks will taste mighty good.

As much as it may not seem like it, Sunday’s loss was  the best determiner so far this season of where the Chiefs are at in their progression as a growth franchise. Did any of you really believe the Chiefs were the best team in the league? When we design tests for students we build in questions that challenge the students and this game tells us more about the Chiefs than we would have learned had the Chiefs won.

There were defensive failings on Sunday for sure but, the offensive missteps were just as critical to the Chiefs subpar performance.

From the 9 yard line, with 3:07 left in the first quarter, the Broncos TE Julius Thomas catches a TD pass as he crosses the goal. It looked like a number of  Chiefs could have made a play on that ball but clearly, Quintin Demps gets turned around and just like that it’s Denver 10, Chiefs nothing.

Still the Chiefs were in this game until the end of the day. However, do you really learn anything about these Chiefs by saying that. Not really. We already knew this group would battle to the bitter end. The only difference here was the bitter ending.

It’s far more important that this young and talented football team learns what can be learned. If the Chiefs allow the Broncos near the 9 or 10 yard line in 11 days, they should remember the play above. Had Demps turned the other way, he would have intercepted the ball and that game would have taken on a dramatically alternate personality.

From the one yard line, Broncos RB Montee Ball runs the ball over the left guard for a TD as Akeem Jordan guesses and jumps the wrong gap allowing Ball to waltz in uncontested. Denver 17, Chiefs 7.

Plays like the ones both Jordan and Demps’ … didn’t… make seemed to typify the Chiefs play all day long, still the Chiefs were in this game until the end of the day.

Just as the Chiefs offense began the game with a major case of the jitters… including 3 separate 3 and outs…

…still the Chiefs were in this game until the end of the day.

I read where Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks believes this game may have have exposed Kansas City’s possible fatal flaw — that they can’t play catch up football. Well, as much as I might have agreed with him before this game was played, now that the final whistle has blown this one away, my lasting impression is that the Chiefs competed until the end. Had the Chiefs scored in their final drive, there would ultimately have been an onside kick. Once you make that onside kick… it’s anybodies game.

Ask any Broncos fan if they thought they had the game sown away before their final possession and I’m sure 100 out of 100 will tell you no.

Sometimes we over-analyze games and project what we believe was supposed to be an outcome that never really materialized.

The Broncos didn’t massively outscore the Chiefs in this game. Didn’t happen.

The Broncos didn’t expose the Chiefs as miserable wannabes. Didn’t happen.

Am I saying that there were moral victories here? NO, that’s not what I’m talking about at all. I’m saying this game was exactly what it was. A hotly contested game down the last possession between two closely matched clubs who both faltered along the way.

A classy game? Not really. One to learn from. If you’re a Chiefs player, most definitely.

When you’re only down 17-10 at halftime and your defense comes up with 3 straight stops… but you do nothing to move closer in scoring… there are lessons to be learned there. It’s almost as if the Broncos set the Chiefs up for a comeback or a big play but they didn’t take the opportunity to get it done. That’s a chance for Andy Reid to get creative with the play calling and use of personnel packages on the field. That’s a chance for individual players to step forward and make a big play or even take a risk to make something happen.

However, that’s exactly what didn’t happen and will have to change before 11 days from now.

The Chiefs secondary played almost exclusively man to man coverage and while you can argue that they held the Broncos below their season averages, including total points (27 instead of 41) the use of some zone coverage and masking the zone with this personnel will take some more time to develop… however, it’s an important way the secondary could give the front seven more time to get to Manning. Which, is exactly what they couldn’t do at any point in the game.

I don’t think they ever got close enough to see the whites of his eyes.

To beat Peyton Manning the Chiefs must “frustrate” him early and often. In this way, that game was bass-ackwards. It was the Chiefs who were often frustrated. Yes, they competed and kept the game close all the way but if you placed a finger on the pulse of the Arrowhead Addict Hardcore’s who were posting during the game, I’ve never heard or felt a higher frustration level. Not even at any point during the 2-14 season of 2012.

Now, expectations are heightened. Which is as they should be, especially when you go 9-0 and lead the universe in defense. However, the “Chiefs” played like “braves,” which is not so much to say they played bravely, as it is to say they did NOT live up to expectations.

So, on this day, Denver was better.

Now, I am in no way saying Denver is better. In fact, after this game I have a much better sense of where the two teams are at and I still believe the Chiefs are a better team. They simply have to learn from their mistakes.

Or, they will surely be proving Albert Einstein’s insanity equation:

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

There was probably no moment in this game that embodied Einstein’s idiom more than turning the ball over the moment after the Broncos turned the ball over. If you compare the turnover battle to all the other Chiefs games… not so much from a numbers standpoint which is important… but from a guttural… emotional… place, it’s the momentum spectrum that swung faster than a monkey on a rope.

Those back to back plays took the Chiefs players from… AHH, FINALLY, YES, LET’S GO… to… OHH FUGDE, DAMMIT, CRAAAAAAP EPIC FAIL! Back to back plays like that can turn pure Mo-Jo and to pure animal bi-product bio fuel that can’t be used in any known machine.

It’s going from miracle moment to miracle whipped.

The pattern of the Chiefs leading in the giveaway-takeaway battle this season was not evident in this particular game but there’s no reason to believe that it won’t raise it’s totally gnarly head again this weekend and stick around the rest of the season.

Our beloved game of pro football is stuck with many an ear weary credo like: this is a quarterback driven league.

They should instead say…

this is a giveaway-takeaway league or…

this is a sack driven league or…

this is a who can score the most points league or,

this is a who can hold the other team to the least points league.

This game was a good example of this not being a “quarterback driven” league. Yes, Peyton played a good solid game but the game was won and lost for many other, perhaps more important, reasons. Like the mistakes that were made.

Now pick up your glass of water and raise a toast to learning from our mistakes.

The Chiefs better… or it’s back to the future with Einstein.

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