Week 13 Game Recap: Denver Broncos 27, Kansas City Chiefs 31
What you need to know
Six different players ran the football for Denver, with 26 of 29 carries going to the running backs. Mike Anderson ran the ball 13 times, Ron Dayne had eight, and Tatum Bell had five. Of the three, Bell was by far the most successful during the game, totaling 46 yards on his five carries.
RB Mike Anderson was unable to convert a crucial fourth and one from his own 47 yard line late in the fourth quarter. Anderson was initially ruled to have gotten the first down, but following a Kansas City challenge, officials determined that Anderson was about a half yard short of the spot, giving the Chiefs the ball back with just over two minutes left to play.
QB Jake Plummer was up and down. He had some bright but spots but at times, he looked like the Jake Plummer of recent years. That is, the poor decision maker and at times, wild gunslinger. He made far too many bad passes and choices, and it cost his team a game that they really could have used.
Denver entered the game as the leagueís top-ranked rushing defense. After RB Larry Johnson picked them apart to the tune of 140 yards (168 for the Chiefs as a whole), that ranking will likely be dropping. The Broncos simply had no way of stopping Johnson in the fourth quarter, as he continuously drained the clock by moving the chains.
Larry Johnson had a solid first quarter, a quiet second and third quarters, and an absolutely incredible fourth quarter. His yardage totals by quarter were: 37-7-6-90. Johnsonís four yard touchdown run gave KC the lead late in the contest, and his ability to grind out tough yardage simply wound the clock to just about the end of the game.
Trent Green looked great at times and ok at others. When he was given time to throw, he proved that he is still one of the leagueís most accurate passers, with several laser strikes to his receivers. He made a couple of poor decisions, but for the most part his negatives were a product of some bad luck.
TE Tony Gonzalez hauled in a 25 yard touchdown, but was also the cause of an interception when he had a pass bounce off his hands. For the most part, Gonzalezís role was that of a blocker.
What you ought to know
|QB Jake Plummer, Pass: 18 - 29 - 276 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 1 - 8 - 0|
Plummer had what can be best described as an up and down day. At times, he looked remarkable, buying himself extra time in the pocket on two separate occasions on pass plays to his TE, Jeb Putzier. At other times, he looked a lot like the Jake Plummer that weíve all come to know over the years. One particularly damaging play was an interception he threw in the end zone that was picked by CB Patrick Surtain. His second interception was less damaging, but no less head-scratching. He simply didnít see LB Kawika Mitchell, who easily stepped in front of a pass early in the third quarter. Perhaps his most maddening play from a fantasy perspective was on a very nice run late in the first half. Plummer took the ball around the corner and slid towards the end zone to seemingly score a nine yard touchdown. The key word in the previous sentence being Ďslidí. Had Plummer simply dove for the pylon or at worst reached out over the goal line, he very likely would have scored. However, after the play was initially ruled a touchdown, Chiefs HC Dick Vermeil challenged. He rightly argued that Plummer had begun his slide prior to crossing the plane of the end zone. Replays backed that up, and the ball was placed at the one. Following an incompletion by Plummer, Mike Anderson scored his second touchdown of the game. Of course, it wasnít all bad fortune for Plummer. His owners caught a huge break right at the outset. Plummer threw a simple screen to Mike Anderson, who turned a short ten yard pass into a terrific 66 yard touchdown, beating the entire Chiefsí defense downfield in the process. If not for that Anderson catch and run, Plummerís day would have been entirely forgettable. Plummer was also bailed out of a potential interception later in the game when Eric Warfield was unable to intercept a Plummer pass that hit him right between the numbers.
Van Pelt entered the game in an odd scenario on a play late in the first half. Van Pelt lined up under center, as QB Jake Plummer lined up split wide. Van Pelt took the snap and took off for the end zone, scoring from seven yards away. Itís a bit confusing why Denver would choose that precise moment to utilize Van Pelt, since Plummer is so adept at that very thing. Still, the play worked so all it really does is infuriate Plummer owners who lost their games by less than a touchdown. It was the first offensive play of Van Peltís career.
Anderson turned in a productive fantasy game thanks to two isolated plays. The first was a 66 yard touchdown reception from Jake Plummer early in the first quarter. He broke into the open field and had just one man to beat (Greg Wesley) to reach the end zone. Anderson put a great move on Wesley to get by him, and had already produced a solid fantasy point total after just one touch. Anderson would later add a one yard touchdown plunge after coming up short on his first attempt. It was lucky for Anderson owners that he delivered his production early on, because he didnít have a good game running the football, and didnít have another pass thrown to him the entire afternoon. In fact, Anderson owners are lucky that there even was a second touchdown run. Two plays prior, Jake Plummer seemingly had an easy touchdown run in front of him. All he needed to do was dive quickly into the end zone or just reach the ball over the goal line. Instead, Plummer opted to slide towards the line, placing him down at the two. Anderson scored two plays later. At times, Anderson displayed good balance in not going down after one hit, and was definitely fighting for yardage. There just wasnít much to be had. Anderson had a carry early in the game on which he was tackled at the four. He was stuffed on first down attempting to get in, and QB Jake Plummer was intercepted in the end zone on the next play. Anderson was involved in the biggest play of the game late in the fourth quarter. On a fourth and one, it was ruled that he had gained enough yardage for a first down. KC HC Dick Vermeil disagreed and challenged the call. The ruling on the field was overturned, and the Broncos turned the ball over on downs. Anderson was clearly short of the spot.
CBS commentator Phil Simms quoted Denver HC Mike Shanahan as having said, ďRon Dayne has earned the right to get a few carries just from what he did Thanksgiving DayĒ. True to his word, Shanahan gave Dayne eight of the teamís 26 running back carries. He didnít do much with his opportunity, with his first carry coming on a third and 18 draw early in the second quarter. He did get some red zone touches, carrying the ball twice from inside the six yard line. As has been the story of his career, he was stopped short both times. Jason Elam hit a 22 yard field goal later in the possession. After one play in particular, Dayne appeared to have suffered a bloody nose but he was apparently fine.
|RB Tatum Bell, Rush: 5 - 46 - 0, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (1 targets)|
Bellís first three carries upon entering the game went for 13, 15, and 14 yards. He gave Denver an immediate burst of energy upon entering; unfortunately for Bell owners, his first carry did not come until midway through the third quarter. He wasnít heavily featured in the gameplan, though one has to wonder why not with all of the success he had.
|WR Rod Smith, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0, Rec: 6 - 79 - 0 (9 targets)|
Smith was his typical solid self, compiling good receiving stats almost anonymously. He didnít break any big gains, as his long catch of the game went for 18. Still, he was typically the player Jake Plummer looked to when all else broke down. You may notice that Smith was 0-0 passing the football, the same passing stats as all the other position players who didnít attempt a pass. The reason why Smith has passing stats is because he was intending to throw a WR option on a play early in the third quarter. The Chiefs sniffed it out, however, and Smith pulled the ball back in and smartly took a sack.
Lelie came up with a big reception in the first quarter, a 56 yard gain down the middle of the field. Had the pass been thrown a bit further and hit Lelie in stride, he could have scored. As it was, his best opportunity for scoring was on a fade pass to the corner of the end zone. Lelie got one hand on the ball, but didnít have a very good chance to come up with it because of good defense by Patrick Surtain.
On one play in particular, QB Jake Plummer bought himself some time by running around in the backfield and eluding would-be tacklers. Upon facing intense pressure to get rid of the ball, he deftly found the tight end Putzier, who rumbled downfield for a pickup of 32 yards. It was by far Putzierís biggest play of the afternoon.
Alexanderís role was very minimal, evidenced by his sole reception.
Elam connected on both the game-tying and lead-taking field goals (from 40 and 22 yards away, respectively), proving he is still one of the leagueís most dangerous kickers with the game on the line.
Denver entered the game as the number one ranked run defense in the entire NFL. They allowed Johnson 37 yards in the first quarter. Granted, that isnít exactly shutting him down, but one has to expect that a rushing attack such as Kansas City will inevitably get something on the ground. The Broncos were excellent at stifling the run during the second and third quarters, holding Johnson to a combined 13 yards over that half hour of play. But in the fourth quarter, the Denver defense wilted. Johnson rumbled for 90 of his 140 yards, including the game winning touchdown from four yards out. Johnson simply wore them out, and Denver couldnít get a defensive stop late in the fourth quarter until it was far too late. Kansas City controlled the ball for over ten minutes of the fourth quarter, throwing just three passes the entire frame. Johnson was simply that adept at moving the chains, the team simply rode him to a victory.
The game got off to a most inauspicious start when CB Champ Bailey and S Nick Ferguson mixed up their coverage on the second Kansas City possession of the afternoon. Their poor play allowed Dante Hall to streak down the sideline into the end zone for an easy 41 yard touchdown reception. It wouldnít be the only big blemish on the ledger for Denver. They later allowed a 54 yard pass play to Eddie Kennison, and a 25 yard pass to Tony Gonzalez. They were unable to get much pressure on Chiefsí QB Trent Green, and on the rare occasions that they could, the team was unable to sustain it. Perhaps the biggest and most damaging detraction from the Denver pass game came courtesy of S John Lynch. On a second and seven at the Denver nine yard line, Kansas City threw an incomplete pass. Fortunately for KC, Lynch was whistled for a helmet to helmet hit that kept the drive going. Larry Johnson scored the eventual game winning touchdown on the very next play.
As for the positives, one of the Denver interceptions was more a lucky break than anything. A pass bounced off the hands of Gonzalez and into the waiting hands of Bailey. Bailey nearly also added an interception in the fourth quarter off a Trent Green pass in the red zone, but was unable to hang on. The second interception that they did hang on to was a fantastic grab by Darrent Williams. He read Greenís pass perfectly, jumping in front of WR Chris Horn to make an outstanding grab on the football. As stated above, Denver was unable to get pressure on Trent Green, which further enabled the Chiefs to really open up the offense and pretty much do as they pleased.
|QB Trent Green, Pass: 16 - 23 - 253 - 2 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 3 - 13 - 0|
At times, Trent Green looked locked in. When given proper time, Green zipped passes all over the field to all of his receivers with precision and speed. He made particularly nice tosses on the 54 yard pass to Eddie Kennison (and another later pass to Kennison), as well as the Tony Gonzalez touchdown. When he was given time, he was able to step forward into his throws, looking nothing like the player he has been for much of the year. Itís likely not simply a coincidence that the Kansas City offensive line is finally completely healthy and now Green is playing well. While Green looked good for most of the game, thatís not to say he was without flaws. He was nearly intercepted by Champ Bailey at the goal line as Kansas City was driving for the game winning score in the second half, and he also overshot WR Eddie Kennison in the corner of the end zone on an earlier play. Greenís first touchdown pass, to Dante Hall, was a simple pitch and catch. Hall had beaten Champ Bailey with ease, and all Green really needed to do was at least throw it in Hallís zip code for the score. Green suffered his share of bad luck, as well. He lost a seven yard touchdown pass on a play that was called back for holding. It should be noted that Green would never have had enough time to complete the pass had it not been for the hold. He had an earlier touchdown pass to Samie Parker called back after an illegal motion penalty on Eddie Kennison. Like the first negated score, this one also wouldnít have happened if not for the penalty. The Denver players simply stood around as Green tossed a pass downfield for 20 yards to Parker. Greenís first interception wasnít his fault, as Tony Gonzalez had the ball bounce off his fingertips and into the hands of a waiting Champ Bailey. Green was also tackled at the two yard line after an eight yard run in the second quarter. Larry Johnson scored three plays later.
Though it took him longer than in recent weeks, Larry Johnson once again registered at least 100 yards rushing. He did so for the fifth time in a row, tying Priest Holmesí team record. He did his damage early and late, with almost nothing in between. He ran all over Denver defenders in the first quarter, almost always gaining three and four yards per carry no matter how many tacklers there were. He cracked the 1,000-yard plateau late in the first quarter, the first such milestone of his young career. Johnson was pretty well shut down in quarters two and three, totaling just 13 yards during that time. He smartly managed to remain inbounds on his late carries in order to keep the clock moving, rather than fight for extra yardage to pad his stats. The announcers spoke of Johnsonís knowledge of NFL history, which serves to suggest that he is not only a great talent, but also a student of the game. Itís not foolproof, but players like this often get it, and are particularly attractive long-term NFL options. His second touchdown run of the afternoon was a terrific blend of patience, vision, and athleticism. He combined all three in a very short space to plunge in for the game winning four yard touchdown. Denver entered the game as the leagueís top-ranked run defense, and Johnson absolutely tore them up. Aside from LaDainian Tomlinson and Shaun Alexander, Larry Johnson may very well be the next best fantasy RB right now. And if you base the rankings on recent history, Johnson takes a back seat to no one Ė heís that hot right now.
Kennison was involved in several huge plays throughout the contest. His 54 yard reception in the second quarter helped set up the first Larry Johnson touchdown run. He was targeted in the end zone on a Trent Green second quarter pass, and even though he was open, Green overshot him. He later caught what appeared to be a seven yard touchdown, but the play was negated due to a holding penalty. If not for the hold, the touchdown would have never happened. Kennison was also the target of an errant Trent Green end zone pass that was picked off by Champ Bailey. Kennison went over 100 yards early in the fourth quarter, and even though he didnít have an extremely very busy afternoon, he certainly had an eventful one.
Parkerís primary contribution to this game was for humor - he made the ultimate wide receiver gaffe. He caught what seemed to be a 20 yard touchdown from Trent Green. Parker then posed for the cameras and hammed it up for his audience. Only problem was, Eddie Kennison was whistled for illegal motion before the play not only did Parker have his touchdown negated Ė he scored when no one on Denver was even trying to defend him. Then he overdid the celebration on his great play that never happened, looking quite foolish in the process.
|WR Dante Hall, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0, Rec: 2 - 55 - 1 (4 targets)|
Hall broke free downfield early in the contest for a 41 yard touchdown reception. It was one of the easiest touchdowns Hall will ever have. Hall was later targeted in the end zone on a third down pass play that fell incomplete. He also had a miscue just prior to halftime when he fumbled a kick return, but the Broncos were unable to capitalize on it.
Gonzalezís game was a tale of two passes. The first pass intended for him was a bit high, but a very catchable ball. It bounced off his fingertips and into the hands of Denver CB Champ Bailey. On the second target, Gonzalez made sure to hold onto it and took it into the end zone for a 25 yard score. After that second quarter touchdown, Gonzalez was not thrown to again for the remainder of the game. His primary role was to help spring Larry Johnson for big gains in the run game, and Gonzalez did just that with several fantastic blocks.
Tynes nailed down a 34 yard attempt early in the second half to put the Chiefs up 24-21. It was his only field goal attempt of the afternoon.
The Kansas City defense made perhaps the single-biggest play of the entire game late in the fourth quarter. With Denver driving to midfield, the Broncos faced a fourth and one with 2:11 left to play. RB Mike Anderson barreled ahead for what was initially ruled a first down run. Kansas City HC Dick Vermeil challenged the spot of the ball, and upon review, the call was reversed. Kansas City took over on downs, and was able to subsequently run the clock down to :03.
The Chiefs did a solid job in holding down the bruisers (Mike Anderson and Ron Dayne) all day long, keeping the duo to 63 yards on 21 carries. They had problems, however, containing Tatum Bell. The second-year back totaled 46 yards on his five carries, with three of those runs going for ten plus yards. About the only other blemish on the Kansas City effort came courtesy of a Bradlee Van Pelt QB keeper that he took in for a touchdown late in the first half. Jake Plummer was split out wide on the play, and the Chiefs defense looked bewildered as to what was happening.
Kansas City did a good enough job of holding their own defensively (for the most part), but was also bailed out by some very costly mistakes by Jake Plummer. Itís tough to say a team is doing a solid job when it allows nearly 300 yards through the air, but the truth is the Chiefs defense came up with the stops when they really needed to. They did allow three separate pass plays of over 30 yards, and all proved costly. But aside from those three big plays, the Chiefs didnít allow much at all. The first big play for Denver came courtesy of a screen pass to Mike Anderson. The RB turned upfield and galloped 66 yards for the touchdown, faking Greg Wesley badly in the process. Later, Ashley Lelie hauled in a 56 yard reception that was both a product of great offense and porous defense. Had the ball been thrown a bit better by Jake Plummer, it could have resulted in a touchdown. And finally, Jeb Putzier caught a quick pass and took off downfield for a 32 yard scamper. On the play, Plummer bought himself a lot of time in the pocket and tossing to Putzier was really a last resort. Everyone was out of position because of how long it took Plummer to scramble around the backfield, so it was understandable to an extent that there wasnít a man blanketing Jeb Putzier at all times. Kansas City good pretty good pressure on Plummer, sacking him once (and Rod Smith once) and intercepting Plummer twice. If not for Plummerís mobility, you can be assured that the sack total would have been much higher. The Denver pass protection broke down on many occasions.