It’s halftime at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, and the Chiefs trail the Broncos 17-10. Here are five quick observations.
1. The Chiefs seem to sense they can’t just squat on the ball and play conservative offense tonight. Quarterback Alex Smith, who is averaging two deep passes per game, has already attempted four long passes. The threat of the deep ball plays a role in loosening up the Broncos’ defense.
2. The Chiefs have made a concerted effort to get Dwayne Bowe the football. He’s caught four passes for 57 yards and also outmuscled a defender for a 6-yard touchdown catch, the Chiefs’ only touchdown of the half. He’s been targeted eight times and seems to be competing for the ball in the air. Bowe’s arrest may have been a distraction last week, but they would be in trouble without him tonight.
3. The Chiefs mixed in Knile Davis a little bit in the first half; that’s a good thing. He ran hard on a 7-yard gain and also caught an 11-yard pass. This is a good thing for the Chiefs; they’ll need as many weapons as possible in the second half if they hope to keep up with Denver’s offense.
4. Speaking of Denver’s offense...after a shaky start, Peyton Manning has been tremendous. He’s hit the Chiefs with short passes and deep passes, largely because the Chiefs’ assortments of blitzes simply aren’t getting home. They don’t have a single sack or a quarterback hit and aside from an early blitz where Eric Berry came in free and grabbed his jersey, they literally haven’t touched him. That has to change in the second half.
5. Rookie cornerback Marcus Cooper has been fantastic this year, but he’s had a rough half. He got beat for a 70-yard gain on a go route by Demaryius Thomas, and has generally outmuscled him on the way to catching four passes for 116 yards. He was also whistled for defensive holding.