An A-Z rewind of the Chiefs’ 24-17 loss at Denver and a fast-forward look ahead:
A is for Andy Reid, the Chiefs coach, who orchestrated an improbable scare to the Broncos with a revitalized offensive scheme and despite more key injuries (Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry).
B is for buyer’s remorse, which Reid said he’s not feeling despite another short missed field goal by rookie Cairo Santos, this one from 37 yards out, that left the Chiefs with nothing to show for a 10-minute third-quarter drive.
C is for clock, which the Chiefs owned with 36 minutes 14 seconds of possession after entering the game last in the NFL in that category after having the ball just over 22 minutes in the opener against Tennessee. The Chiefs had the ball for 20:54 in the second half … but scored only seven points in the last two quarters.
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D is for Dwayne Bowe, the receiver who quietly returned to the lineup after a one-game suspension. Bowe had a big catch for 21 yards as the Chiefs drove to the Denver 2-yard-line on their final possession but otherwise had just two catches for 19 yards.
E is for Eric Berry, the safety who suffered a sprained ankle in the first half and began the season as arguably the second-most important player on the Chiefs defense … to Derrick Johnson, who was lost for the season with an Achilles’ tendon injury in the opener.
F is for Frankie Hammond Jr., whose 37-yard kickoff return set the tone for the promising final drive that fizzled out at the Denver 2.
G is for goal-line offense, which was a mixed bag for the Chiefs. Knile Davis had touchdown runs of two and four yards, but they also failed to get any points out of first and goals at the 4 and 2.
H is for Hali, Tamba, the Chiefs linebacker who apparently incorrectly was cited for an offside at the 2-minute warning, giving Denver a third and two instead of third and seven. The 2-minute mark appeared to come before the call, meaning it shouldn’t have been made. Instead of being in a play-calling bind at the Chiefs 29, Denver opted to run C.J. Anderson, who went for 12 yards to set up a pivotal touchdown.
I is for interceptions, none in the game thrown by either team … and three fewer than tossed the week before by the Chiefs’ Alex Smith.
J is for Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs running back who like Berry missed most of the game with a sprained ankle. With four yards on two carries, Charles has 23 yards on nine carries this season, and also like Berry, it’s unclear when he’ll return.
K is for Knile Davis, who minimized the fallout from Charles’ absence by rushing for 79 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries, starting with a 25-yard burst on his first touch, and leading the Chiefs in receptions with six for 26 yards. Between that effort and his play in place of the injured Charles in the playoff game against Indianapolis (18 carries for 67 yards, seven catches for 33), the second-year back is showing promise … but still needs to firm up his grip on the ball.
L is for losses adding up: Since starting last season 9-0, the Chiefs are 2-8.
M is for Miami, up next for the Chiefs in a game that suddenly looks more winnable than it did a week ago after the Dolphins beat New England. On Sunday, they lost 29-10 at Buffalo.
N is for number of plays run: 75 for Kansas City, 46 for Denver.
O is for offensive line, which was porous and disjointed last week but much more in rhythm against Denver, paving the way for 133 rushing yards – nearly twice as many as last week’s 67. While doubling their ground production, the Chiefs also cut their sacks allowed in half, from four to two.
P is for Peyton Manning, the Denver quarterback, who was his usual surgical self, completing 21 of 26 passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns.
Q is for quarterback Alex Smith, who after a dud opener entered the game 23rd in the NFL in quarterback rating and redeemed himself with a terrific game. You can fuss over some misfires here and there, but he was 26 for 42 for 255 yards and rushed for 42 yards on five carries.
R is for Ron Parker, the cornerback who spent most of the game at safety in place of Berry and led the team with seven tackles.
S is for sudden impact: A week after converting just one of 12 third downs, the Chiefs made good on 13 of 16, including Smith’s 20-yard pass to Travis Kelce on third and 18 in the third quarter.
T is for tight ends for the Chiefs, Kelce and Anthony Fasano, who combined to catch seven passes for 120 yards. Kelce is establishing himself as a presence and budding force. He had four catches for 81 yards.
U is for underdogs: Despite the upgrade in play, the Chiefs aren’t likely to be favored in a game until Oct. 26 when the St. Louis Rams visit Arrowhead Stadium.
V is for Vickerson, Kevin, the Chiefs’ defensive lineman who recently was cut by Denver and signed with the Chiefs over Cincinnati in part because he wanted to get two shots at Denver. "They got us this one," Vickerson said after the game, "but we’re going to get ‘em next time."
W is for woe to the Chiefs: The injuries to Charles and Berry left them with six sidelined starters, seven if you count semi-starter De’Anthony Thomas, who sat out again with a hamstring injury. Add in suspended Donald Stephenson, serving a four-game suspension, and the Chiefs were missing more than a third of their would-be starting lineup.
X is for X-factor: penalties. Each team hurt themselves, but the Broncos particularly sabotaged themselves with 11 for 71 yards, including numerous offside calls and a 55-yard pass called back for ineligible man downfield. The Chiefs committed seven for 62 yards.
Y is for yards: The Chiefs outgained the Broncos 380-325.
Z is for zero wins and two losses for the Chiefs, who counterintuitively appear to have more promising days ahead after the second defeat.