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(Sunday, December 5th)
Final Score: Kansas City 10, Denver 6
Kansas City, MO (Sports Network) - Matt Cassel's pass to Leonard Pope in the back of the end zone late in the first quarter proved to be the game's only touchdown, as the Kansas City Chiefs shut down the Denver Broncos, 10-6, to remain atop the AFC West.
These division rivals hooked up three weeks ago, and Denver lit up the scoreboard in a 49-29 romp. Chiefs head coach Todd Haley thought his counterpart, Josh McDaniels, ran up the score, leading to a contentious meeting at midfield after the game.
There was no fireworks after this one -- and hardly any during it.
Cassel completed 17-of-31 passes for 196 yards, and the Chiefs (8-4) narrowly avoided looking ahead to their matchup at second-place San Diego next week.
Jamaal Charles rushed for 116 yards on 21 carries for Kansas City, while Knowshon Moreno led the Broncos (3-9) with 161 yards on 23 carries.
Kyle Orton had a horrific day behind center, connecting on a paltry 9-of-28 throws for a season-low 117 yards in the loss, Denver's seventh in its past eight games.
Denver, down 10-6, got the ball at its own 15-yard line with 3:56 remaining. Brandon Lloyd caught an 18-yard pass for a rare first down, but Orton threw incomplete on the next play, was sacked by Javier Arenas on second down, then came up four yards short on a dump pass to Moreno.
The Broncos opted to punt with 2 1/2 minutes remaining and just two timeouts left. Kansas City moved the chains once and was able to chew off a little more than two minutes while reaching its 33-yard line.
"If we played defense, I felt like we would have a shot to get it back somewhere around the two-minute warning," explained McDaniels on the decision to punt. "Any time you do that you run the risk, if you give up a first down, of getting it back with significantly less time."
Dustin Colquitt's seventh punt of the game was his best, driving a 59-yarder over the head of return man Eddie Royal. The ball was downed at the Denver eight with time for just one play, and Orton's heave was knocked down to secure the hosts' third straight win.
The Chiefs went up 7-0 late in the opening quarter thanks to an 11-play, 70- yard drive that featured a trio of third-down conversions. On 2nd-and-goal from the two, Cassel rolled to his right and found Pope at the 1:15 mark.
Having found little success through the air in the early going, the Broncos went to the ground in the second quarter. Moreno responded with 62 yards on eight carries, but the trek stalled and Matt Prater booted a 25-yard field goal to get Denver on the board.
The kick came with 1:19 remaining in the half, enough time for Kansas City to get into field goal range and restore the seven-point lead on Ryan Succop's 47-yard boot.
The Chiefs held the ball for the first 7 1/2 minutes of the third quarter but came away empty-handed. After an illegal formation nullified a touchdown, Cassel was sacked on 4th-and-goal from the two.
The mistakes continued for the hosts. Dexter McCluster had a 57-yard jaunt taken back due to a holding penalty, then the rookie lost a fumble at the Denver 32 with under two minutes left in the third.
"We couldn't stop hurting ourselves in the red area," Haley said. "Those are the things good teams don't do, but we ran the hell out of the ball and made enough plays to win."
The Broncos turned the turnover into a 41-yard Prater field goal with 13:42 remaining in the contest.
The Chiefs proceeded to go three-and-out, and on the ensuing drive Moreno rumbled 24 yards down to the Kansas City 24. Two plays later, Tamba Hali came from his right end position and blind-sided Orton with a big hit, causing a fumble the Penn State product recovered.
Orton came in leading the NFL with 3,370 passing yards...Lloyd, who had 1,122 receiving yards entering the game, caught two passes for 31 yards. He was targeted 11 times...Hali recorded two sacks, setting a career-high with 10 this season...Cassel was named the AFC's Offensive Player of the Month for November...Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe, fresh off a 170-yard, three-TD performance in a win over Seattle last week, was held without a catch...The Chiefs have started the season 6-0 at home for the first time since 2003...Kansas City held the ball for 37:14.
12/05 18:37:53 ET