Key play: The Chiefs squandered a marvelous scoring opportunity on their first offensive drive when two first-and-goal passes proved unsuccessful and a third — a swing pass to Jamaal Charles — ended with a fumble that was recovered by Denver.
Key stat: Both offensive lines struggled in the first half, as each surrendered a pair of sacks and subjected their quarterbacks to some vicious shots.
Key play: Aqib Talib’s interception of quarterback Alex Smith — he dove in front of a short pass intended for Jeremy Maclin — set up the Broncos’ game-tying score, a 1-yard throw from Peyton Manning to tight end Virgil Green.
Key stat: Denver might have been trying to send a message with its overaggressive play, but this attitude manifested itself in four personal-foul penalties, including two that helped set up the Chiefs’ first score.
Key play: Brandon McManus kicked a 54-yard field goal that tied the score at 17-17.
Key stat: The Chiefs ended the third quarter zero for five on third-down conversions.
Key play: Jamaal Charles’ fumble with 27 seconds left made the difference, as cornerback Bradley Roby returned it 21 yards for the game-winning score.
Key stat: The Chiefs committed five turnovers to the Broncos’ one.
Player of the game: Peyton Manning completed 26 of 45 passes for 256 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. He is the Chiefs’ ultimate nemesis.
Reason to hope: The Chiefs should have won the game despite turning the ball over five times to one.
Reason to mope: The Chiefs’ five turnovers — three fumbles and two interceptions — cost them significantly and must be eliminated.
Looking ahead: The Chiefs have another big game to get ready for. Their Monday night showdown Sept. 28 at Green Bay is another opportunity to show they are for real.
Terez A. Paylor, email@example.com
After being largely non-existent in week one, the Chiefs’ rushing game came alive in the first half as Jamaal Charles rushed for 74 yards by halftime, including a vintage 34-yard touchdown run. Charles finished with 125 yards in 21 carries, but he’ll remember this game for the devastating fumbles that hurt this grade.
The Chiefs had a hard time getting their passing game going in the first half, as quarterback Alex Smith only threw for 51 yards while constantly under fire (two sacks). He also threw two interceptions and was sacked four times, though he did guide them on a potential game-winning scoring drive late.
The Broncos didn’t get a ton going on the ground, rushing for only 2.8 yards per carry.
The Chiefs’ pass rush was on point in the first half, sacking Manning twice and aiding cornerback Marcus Peters’ pick-six. But Manning started picking them apart in the second quarter, and blown assignments helped the Broncos tie the score at 14-14 by the break. Manning also led the Broncos on a clutch comeback late in the game, proving he still had the magic touch.
De’Anthony Thomas’ punt-return fumble in the first half did not end up costing them. There were no game-changing plays, but Cairo Santos did his job, making his sole field-goal attempt.
The offensive play-calling toward the end of the Chiefs’ first offensive drive — which ended with a Charles fumble — can be criticized, as Reid attempted three straight passes from the 5. His decision to run on the play in which Charles fumbled instead of kneel down will also be criticized. The Chiefs were also penalized nine times. But at the end of the day, the coaches did a decent job putting this team in position to win the game — they lost because of turnovers.