Key play: Peyton Manning hit Emmanuel Sanders on a post for 48 yards on the first play from scrimmage.
Key stat: Manning was four for four for 72 yards on the opening touchdown drive.
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Key play: Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali jumped offsides a second before the 2-minute warning, turning third and 7 into third and 2, which Denver converted before scoring its third touchdown.
Key stat: Manning was 15 of 19 for 191 yards and three touchdowns in the half.
Key plays: Denver’s Malik Jackson was called for unnecessarily shoving Alex Smith after a third-and-13 pass was incomplete, and Chris Harris was called for illegal contact in the end zone against Demetrius Harris but …
Key stat: … the Chiefs’ 10-minute drive went for naught when Cairo Santos missed a 37-yard field goal.
Key play: Smith’s fourth-and-goal pass from the 2 intended for Dwayne Bowe was tipped by defensive tackle Terrance Knighton and was incomplete with 15 seconds to play.
Key stat: The Chiefs had the ball for 10 minutes, 54 seconds in the fourth quarter, and 20:54 in the second half.
Player of the game: Manning hardly had the ball, but he still threw three touchdown passes in the first half and is now 12-1 in his career against the Chiefs.
Reason to hope: If the Chiefs can play this well on the road against a Super Bowl candidate without Charles, Eric Berry and the others who are out for the season, there’s no reason they can’t steal a game next week at Miami.
Reason to mope: It’s tough digging out of 0-2 starts in the AFC West, especially after seeing what San Diego did to Seattle.
Looking ahead: The Chiefs play at Miami next week, where it will be hot and steamy.
Rush offense: B
Knile Davis ran hard and was effective at times as the replacement for Jamaal Charles, who carried just twice for 4 yards before his injury. Alex Smith carried on a designed run, and that’s only inviting injury. The makeshift offensive line opened some nice holes as the Chiefs kept the Broncos’ offense off the field.
Pass offense: B-
Receivers are still having a tough time getting open. Dwayne Bowe returned to the lineup but didn’t get going until the second half. Tight ends Travis Kelce and Anthony Fasano came up with some big catches, but when a team’s longest completion is just 24 yards, something is wrong.
Rush defense: C
Newly signed Kevin Vickerson made an impact against his former teammates as soon as he got in the game, dropping Montee Ball for a 2-yard loss. But Ball averaged 5 yards a pop and his 23-yard run on third and 24 in the third quarter could have been a killer.
Pass defense: D+
Peyton Manning completed 21 of 26 for 242 yards, including the 48-yard bomb to Emmanuel Sanders to start the game, and not until the end did the Chiefs have an answer for Demaryius Thomas or Julius Thomas, who caught touchdown passes, as well as tight end Jacob Tamme.
Special teams: D-
Other than Dustin Colquitt’s punt that was downed at the 3, the special teams were again a disappointment. Rookie kicker Cairo Santos had the yips for the second straight week, missing a 37-yarder at the end of a 10-minute drive. Allowing a 54-yard kickoff return after the Chiefs made it 21-17 in the fourth quarter all but guaranteed the Broncos would make at least a field goal.
Give credit to coach Andy Reid for coming up with some of the wrinkles that were absent from the season-opening loss to Tennessee. Keeping his team in the game without Charles was not easy. Reid’s first challenge of a call was a success, but having lost a second challenge, he was out of them for the second half.
To reach Randy Covitz, call 816-234-4796 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @randycovitz.