Key play: Peyton Manning slipped a pass to C.J. Anderson for a 15-yard touchdown on third and 11.
Key stat: The Chiefs had negative-10 yards of offense in three first-quarter possessions.
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Key play: The Broncos pulled off a fake punt on fourth and 7 from their 36, sustaining a drive that ended in a field goal.
Key stat: Denver controlled the ball for 10 minutes, 32 seconds of the quarter.
Key play: Alex Smith’s pass was deflected by Terrance Knighton and intercepted by DeMarcus Ware.
Key stat: The interception was the first thrown by Smith in 179 attempts, dating to the loss at San Francisco on Oct. 6.
Key play: With the Chiefs trailing 29-16, Donnie Avery fumbled at the Chiefs’ 46, killing any chance for a come-from-behind victory.
Key stat: Smith was sacked four times in the fourth quarter.
Player of the game: Denver running back C.J. Anderson rushed for 168 yards and caught a 15-yard touchdown pass. Where do the Broncos keep finding these running backs?
Reason to hope: The Chiefs, even after losing two in a row, are still in wild-card playoff contention.
Reason to mope: NFL teams with playoff aspirations are supposed to play their best football in November and December, not their worst.
Looking ahead: The Chiefs travel to Phoenix for a 3 p.m. game against the NFC-West leading Cardinals, who lost 29-18 on Sunday at Atlanta.
| Randy Covitz, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Chiefs did absolutely nothing against Denver’s rush defense, which came into the game ranked No. 2 against the run. Jamaal Charles managed just 35 yards in 10 carries, his fewest yards since week two against Denver, when he carried twice for 4 yards before suffering a sprained ankle.
Quarterback Alex Smith threw for 153 yards, his second-fewest of the season, and two touchdowns. He was sacked six times, and intercepted once on a deflected throw. His longest completions were two throws of just 20 yards, on a touchdown pass to Anthony Fasano and to Donnie Avery in the fourth quarter after the game had been decided. The Chiefs have still not completed a touchdown pass to a wide receiver.
Denver’s C.J. Anderson, an undrafted free agent in 2013, looked like Terrell Davis or Floyd Little against the Chiefs. He rushed for 168 yards, the most surrendered to one back by the Chiefs since Cleveland’s Jerome Harrison ran for 286 yards on Dec. 20, 2009.
The good news was Peyton Manning’s 179 yards passing represented his fewest of the season, and the Chiefs even managed a sack/strip of Manning. But when Manning needed to make a throw in the first quarter, he came up big with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas and a 15-yarder to Anderson. After that, he let Anderson and kicker Connor Barth do the heavy legwork.
The Chiefs allowed a fake punt for a key first down in the second quarter, the second time that’s happened this season. Offensive tackle Donald Stephenson was guilty of a personal foul while blocking on an extra point. And a punt caromed off Marcus Cooper’s leg, giving the Broncos possession.
The Chiefs had three extra days to prepare for Denver, but for the second straight week, they came out slow and let the opponent seize the momentum. That falls on Coach Andy Reid and his staff.