Sun Sentinel
National Football League
PRESEASON
12345
REGULAR SEASON
12345
678910
1112131415
1617   
PLAYOFFS
123PBSB
 
               === Manning, Decker carry Broncos past Chiefs ===
 
 Kansas  City, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - Four of Peyton Manning's five touchdown
 passes  went to Eric  Decker and the Denver Broncos held on to beat the Kansas
 City Chiefs, 35-28, on Sunday for first place in the AFC West.
 
 Manning  and  Decker connected for  three straight  scores to start the second
 half,  turning a  seven-point deficit into a  35-21 lead. The Chiefs made it a
 one-score  game on  Jamaal Charles'  1-yard touchdown  with 6:32  left, but  a
 final  drive came  up  short  when Alex  Smith's  fourth-down  pass to  Dwayne
 Bowe was broken up by Broncos safety Mike Adams in the end zone.
 
 "A great, gritty effort on the road," said Broncos interim coach Jack Del Rio.
 "We  knew it was going to be a hostile environment and figured they would have
 a  surge early with  emotion as a factor and I love the way our guys responded
 to that."
 
 Manning  threw  two interceptions  in the  first half that  led to Kansas City
 touchdowns,  but  finished with  403 yards  passing and  broke his own Broncos
 record by reaching 41 touchdown passes this season.
 
 Decker  had eight  catches for 174 yards and a team-record four touchdowns and
 the Broncos (10-2) beat the Chiefs (9-3) for the second time in three weeks to
 take a one-game lead in the division.
 
 Knile  Davis  had a 108-yard kickoff  return touchdown for the longest play in
 Chiefs  history and  Smith threw for 293 yards with touchdown passes to Junior
 Hemingway and Anthony Fasano.
 
 Smith  was sharp on the final drive on throws of 26 yards to A.J. Jenkins, who
 made  the catch falling backward, 28 yards to a diving Dexter McCluster and 19
 yards to Bowe on the left sideline.
 
 Bowe  was open in  the end zone on Kansas City's final play from the Denver 13
 after Broncos cornerback Kayvon Webster fell, but Adams broke up the pass.
 
 "It  came  right down  to the end  and we  weren't able to  punch it in," said
 Chiefs  coach  Andy Reid.  "There are  a lot of  things in  between we can get
 better at and we'll do that.
 
 "I  mentioned to the  team, this isn't college football. This isn't the end of
 the season. ... We came up short. Now it's important we get ourselves back and
 ready to go to finish the season like we're capable of doing."
 
 The  Broncos, who  blew a 24-0 halftime lead  on the road last week to the New
 England Patriots, actually climbed out of a 21-7 hole in this one.
 
 A well-protected Manning led them to a 27-17 win over the Chiefs in Denver two
 weeks ago, denying Kansas City its first 10-0 start in franchise history. With
 Sunday's win, Manning moved to 10-0 vs. the AFC West since joining the Broncos
 before last season, and to 11-1 in his career against Kansas City.
 
 The  Broncos went 3-1 under Del Rio, the Denver defensive coordinator who took
 the reins while head coach John Fox recovered from heart surgery. Fox, who had
 an  aortic valve replacement, has been medically cleared to return and will be
 back with the Broncos on Monday, the team said.
 
 "We missed him," said Del Rio. "It will be great to have him back."
 
 Manning said Del Rio kept the team together in Fox's absence.
 
 "You  can  tell he's an  experienced head coach,"  Manning said. "Our team has
 faced  a lot of adversity in a short time and you never expect your head coach
 not  to  be with you the  entire time. But coach  Del Rio's done a good job of
 keeping  us together. He had a tough stretch of four games and we were able to
 endure."
 
 The  Chiefs,  once the last undefeated  team remaining in the league, have now
 dropped  three in  a row. They were missing pass rusher Justin Houston (elbow)
 but fellow linebacker Tamba Hali (ankle) was active for the game.
 
 Still,  Manning  went 22-of-35  and continued  to find  Decker open behind the
 Chiefs  defense, hitting him on two touchdown passes of at least 37 yards, and
 another throw that went for 42 yards and set up a score.
 
 Decker  got behind  Brandon Flowers and Quintin Demps for his second touchdown
 catch, a 37-yarder that tied the game at 21-21 just 3:09 into the second half.
 
 Demaryius  Thomas,  who left  the game  for a spell  in the  first half with a
 shoulder  injury,  had a 77-yard catch  to set up Decker's 1-yard score, which
 capped  a  95-yard drive sparked by  Montee Ball's bruising 45-yard run on the
 first play.
 
 The  Chiefs, scoreless since early in the second quarter, replied with a drive
 spanning 17 plays and 80 yards and finished by Charles' leaping touchdown.
 
 A  31-yard  pass play to  Knowshon Moreno was  offset by a 15-yard unnecessary
 roughness  penalty.  The Broncos got  a first down on  the play, but punted to
 give the Chiefs possession at their own 8-yard line with 3:32 remaining.
 
 The  first half was flooded with big scoring plays -- the biggest being Davis'
 kick return -- but the dam was broken on defense.
 
 After  the Chiefs drove  to the Denver 2-yard line to open the game, Smith was
 picked  off in  the end zone by Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard. The Chiefs
 got the ball right back, however, when Thomas bobbled the ball to Demps for an
 interception.  Smith then found Hemingway, who made an over-the-shoulder catch
 for a 17-yard touchdown catch.
 
 Manning  and the  Broncos then went 79  yards and Decker beat Flowers on a 41-
 yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7 on the first play of the second quarter.
 
 Davis' return followed. He built a head of steam twice -- first after catching
 the ball in the back of the end zone, then after he ran into a teammate making
 a block. Davis took the ball to the right sideline and out-ran the last Bronco
 with a chance to catch him, cornerback Tony Carter.
 
 Manning's  second interception  went to Marcus Cooper, who stepped in front of
 Decker  on  an underthrown pass  near the right  sideline three plays into the
 ensuing possession.
 
 An  8-yard  touchdown pass to  Bowe was called back  because of a penalty, but
 Fasano  scored  two plays later  on a 12-yard pass  he corralled with his left
 hand to give the Chiefs a 21-7 lead just 4:03 into the second quarter.
 
 "They  came out  hot and  made  some plays  early and  we  did a  good job  of
 persevering," said Manning.
 
 After  a  couple of  punts, a  42-yard pass  to Decker  set up Moreno's 3-yard
 touchdown on a swing pass to draw the Broncos within 21-14 with 4:16 remaining
 in the first half.
 
                                   Game Notes
 
 Manning  threw  37 touchdown passes last  season ... Entering the game, Decker
 had  just  three touchdown  catches this  season ...  The Broncos were without
 defensive  end  Derek Wolfe, who  was hospitalized after experiencing seizure-
 like  symptoms  on Friday, and tight  end Julius Thomas, who missed his second
 straight  game  with a knee injury  ... The Broncos are home against Tennessee
 next week and the Chiefs are at Washington.
 
 12/02 00:42:23 ET