COIN TOSS: The captains are at midfield, and the Broncos call heads, and it is tails. Kansas City elects to defer, so the Broncos will receive to start the game.
14:55: After Eddie Royal returned the opening kickoff to the 33-yard line, he catches the first pass of the game for another first down. The starting offense is led by Kyle Orton at quarterback. Ryan Clady, Russ Hochstein, Casey Wiegmann, Chris Kuper and Ryan Harris, who is back in the lineup despite a toe injury, make up the offensive line. Brandon Marshall and Royal are at wide receiver. Daniel Graham and Tony Scheffler are at tight end, and Knowshon Moreno is at running back.
13:50: After Royal’s 18-yard pickup, Moreno takes the first-down carry eight yards, then follows that up with a 10-yard run to move the chains yet again. At the Kansas City 31-yard line, Orton drops back and lofts a screen pass to Graham, who picks up 13 more yards for another first down at the 18-yard line.
Q1 12:34 Moreno takes the following carry for four yards.
Q1 11:57 Orton’s pass is tipped on second down and intercepted in the end zone by Mike Brown. He takes a knee and the Chiefs will take over at their own 20-yard line after the touchback.
Q1 11:46: Now the starting defense has taken the field. Kenny Peterson, Ronald Fields and Ryan McBean, who is back in the starting lineup after missing time with an injury, make up the defensive line. Mario Haggan, D.J. Williams, Andra Davis and Elvis Dumervil are the linebackers. Champ Bailey, Andre’ Goodman, Brian Dawkins and Renaldo Hill make up the secondary.
Q1 11:20: The Chiefs’ first play from scrimmage is a four-yard run by Jamaal Charles, who is stopped by a pack of Broncos defenders. On second down, Matt Cassel attempted to set up fullback Mike Cox on a screen pass, but it feel incomplete. The Chiefs then went into a no-huddle and on third down, Bobby Wade found himself wide open streaking down the field, but he dropped the pass, bringing up fourth down.
Q1 10:48: Dustin Colquitt booms a 60-yard punt for the Chiefs, but Eddie Royal found some space down the right sideline, thanks in part to a huge block by Spencer Larsen. Royal picks up 21 yards on the return, and the offense will take back over at its own 37-yard line.
Q1 10:43: Correll Buckhalter enters the game at running back, and immediately takes a handoff from Orton, finding seven yards down the left sideline. On second down, Orton fakes a hand off then fires downfield toward Marshall, but cornerback Brandon Flowers makes a deflection at the last second to break up the pass. On 3rd-and-3, Orton fires toward Marshall to set up a quick bubble screen, and Marshall reaches low to haul in the pass before following his blockers for a 10-yard gain and a first down.
Q1 9:40: The Chiefs are called for a 15-yard facemask penalty on the ensuing play, setting up the Broncos with a first down at the Kansas City 30-yard line. On the next play, Orton finds Buckhalter for a quick six-yard gain in the middle of the field. On 2nd-and-4, Orton drops back and finds Royal wide open near the sideline. The receiver burst forward for 14 yards and a 1st-and-goal.
Q1 7:48: Moreno takes a carry three yards to the 7-yard line, where Orton steps up under center. He rolls to his right before throwing back left across the field to Graham, who follows his blockers into the end zone for the 7-yard touchdown. Tyler Polumbus was in at right tackle for Harris on the play. After Matt Prater’s successful extra point, the Broncos jump out to an early lead.
BRONCOS 7, CHIEFS 0
Q1 7:14: Charles takes the kickoff out to the 31-yard line, where the Chiefs offense takes back over. Interesting note, Mary Schottenheimer is sitting in a booth just to our right. He has certainly seen plenty of both of these teams in the past. He is here for the ceremony at halftime to retire Derrick Thomas’ jersey.
Q1 7:00: Fullback Tim Castille takes a first-down carry for eight yards, and Charles takes the following carry and is tackled by Ronald Fields — but he managed to get past the marker for a first down.
INJURY UPDATE: Ryan Harris (foot injury) is doubtful to return to the game.
Q1 6:07: D.J. Williams tackles Charles after a pickup of four yards, setting up the Chiefs with a 3rd-and-6 on their own 47-yard line. Cassel calls for a quick snap after hurrying back up to the line, and he finds Chris Chambers right at the first-down marker to keep the chains moving.
Q1 5:01: The Chiefs try a little trickery on the ensuing first down. Castille took a carry toward the right sideline before slowing up and throwing back to Cassel, who then fired downfield for Chambers. Hill wasn’t fooled, however, and he jumped the route and broke up the pass.
Q1 4:08: The Chiefs are moving the ball down the field, but they are left with a 3rd-and-3 at the Denver 29-yard line after a Fields tackle. On third down, Robert Ayers nearly sacks Cassel, but the quarterback side-steps the linebacker, finding tight end Leonard Pope for the first down at the 23-yard line.
Q1 2:59: Denver calls its first timeout of the half.
Q1 2:19: Two Charles runs set up the Chiefs with a 3rd-and-7 at the Denver 20-yard line. Cassel takes the snap, waits and then delivers a delayed handoff to Charles, who picks up the first down.
Q1 1:11: Mario Haggan takes down running back Javarris Williams for a loss of four on the ensuing play. On 2nd-and-14, Cassel can’t find anyone downfield so he takes off down the right sideline, picking up yardage and setting up 3rd-and-1 at the 3-yard line. The Chiefs convert and set up a 1st-and-goal at the 1-yard line as the quarter comes to an end.
Q2 15:00: Dawkins sniffs out an attempted run on first down, bringing down the back for a loss of three on the toss. On 2nd-and-goal, Cassel fires toward Lance Long, but he drops the pass after being hit by Bailey. Now on 3rd-and-goal, Cassel lines up in the shotgun. He takes the snap and fires toward Charles in the end zone, but is forced to fire early thanks to a Dawkins blitz from his blind side, and Hill breaks up the pass. That sets up a fourth down, and Ryan Succop knocks home the 22-yard field goal.
BRONCOS 7, CHIEFS 3
Q2 14:22: Marshall is in on the kickoff return unit, and Royal fakes a handoff to him on a reverse before bursting upfield close to the 40-yard line. A flag on the play, however, brings the line of scrimmage back to the 21-yard line.
Q2 14:03: Orton lines up in the shotgun and finds Marshall for a 14-yard gain on first down. On the ensuing first down, Orton is in the shotgun again with Moreno to his right. Moreno runs a route out of the backfield, and Orton fires low toward Royal, but the pass hits the ground for an incompletion.
Q2 13:27: Moreno takes a carry and spins forward for two yards to set up 3rd-and-8 at the Denver 37-yard line. Orton lines up in the shotgun, barks out a call at the line and takes the snap. He drops back and tries to find Marshall at the first-down marker, but the pass is broken up by cornerback Brandon Carr.
Q2 12:42 A false start penalty moves the ball back five yards, and Mitch Berger is in to punt. He kicks it to the 16-yard line, where it is fielded by Bobby Wade. Larsen makes the tackle after a 13-yard return on the 52-yard punt.
Q2 12:31 A six-yard gain on a first-down run followed by an incompletion on second down leaves the Chiefs with a 3rd-and-4. Cassel again calls for a quick snap and tries to find Bobby Wade down the field, but the pass is over his head incomplete. Royal fields the ensuing punt, signaling for a fair catch at the 20-yard line.
Q2 11:36 Buckhalter nearly breaks an 80-yard touchdown run, but he is tripped up at the last second. He still picks up 26 yards to the 46-yard line. Moreno picks up four yards on the ensuing first down, setting up 2nd-and-6 at midfield. Buckhalter gets it again on the next play, bursting through the hole to the Kansas City 33-yard line — a 17-yard pickup.
Q2 9:10 A quick Moreno run sets up 2nd-and-7, and Orton finds Marshall downfield on the next play. Marshall breaks out of one tackle and follows a Jabar Gaffney block down to the 16-yard line.
Q2 8:16 Buckhalter continues his red-hot drive, taking the first-down carry down to the 3-yard line, setting up 1st-and-goal. Moreno is in the backfield for the next play, and he takes the carry, following Larsen’s block for a gain of a yard. On 2nd-and-goal, Moreno bursts through the middle of the line for a touchdown. Prater’s extra point caps off the eight-play, 80-yard drive.
BRONCOS 14, CHIEFS 3
Q2 7:03: Prater’s kickoff lands at the goal line, and Quinten Lawrence takes the return to the 24-yard line before being stopped by Larsen.
Q2 6:44: Cassel and Charles botch the handoff on first down, but Charles recovers the fumble. On 2nd-and-13, Cassel finds Wade for a 9-yard gain, setting up 3rd-and-4. A false start penalty pushes the ball back five yards, however, making it 3rd-and-9.
Q2 6:09: On third down, Dumervil sacks Cassel — his 15th on the season. It’s also his 10th sack on third down. Both statistics lead the NFL.
Q2 5:23: After Royal returned the Chiefs punt six yards to the 39-yard line, Moreno took the first-down carry for a yard. On second down, Moreno carries the ball again, picking up three more yards. Now on 3rd-and-6, Orton lines up in the shotgun, drops back and fires toward Scheffler, but the tight end bobbles the pass and it falls incomplete. Another note on Dumervil’s sack — his 10 third-down sacks tie for the second-most in a single season in NFL history.
Q2 3:46: Scheffler takes out a little frustration from the dropped pass by making the special teams stop on the punt. The Chiefs now start their drive inside their own 10-yard line.
Q2 3:27: Charles rushes for no gain on first down, then Cassel fakes a handoff on second down before firing to Wade for a seven-yard gain. Third down brings an incomplete pass, however, and Colquitt is in to punt for Kansas City. Royal makes several tacklers miss after the 63-yard punt, picking up 14 yards on the return. The Broncos will now start on their own 35-yard line.
Q2 2:33: Buckhalter takes the carry on first down, picking up a quick eight yards. He runs again on second down, bursting forward for 11 yards and a first down, bringing the half to the two minute warning. An update on Buckhalter’s stats — he has seven carries for 83 yards, nearly 12 yards per carry.
Q2 1:57: Orton lines up in the shotgun on 1st-and-10 at the Kansas City 46-yard line. He drops back and finds Buckhalter on a screen pass, and the back picks up four yards on the play. Tamba Hali sacks Orton for a loss of seven yards on the next play, however, setting up 3rd-and-13 at the Kansas City 49-yard line. Orton drops back, tries to avoid pressure and is stripped from behind by Hali as he winds up for the throw. There’s a flag on the play — holding on Clady. The penalty is declined, and since the fumble was recovered by Kansas City, the Chiefs take over at midfield.
Q2 1:00: After a Denver timeout, Cassel finds his tight end, Pope, down to the 39-yard line. Kansas City then calls its first timeout of the half to stop the clock.
Q2 0:45: Cassel can’t find anyone downfield, so he scrambles toward the right sideline — a pickup of four yards — before running out of bounds to stop the clock. On 2nd-and-6, Cassel finds Chambers for a five-yard gain before Kansas City calls its second timeout to stop the clock once again.
Q2 0:37: Cassel can’t find anyone downfield on 3rd-and-1, and Darrell Reid forces Cassel to sprint toward the sideline. He lets go of a pass just before he goes out of bounds to ensure he doesn’t lose any yardage. On fourth down, the Chiefs elect to kick a field goal — but just before the snap, Kansas City calls its third and final timeout of the half.
Q2 0:28: Succop is in for the 47-yard field goal attempt — and it sneaks in.
BRONCOS 14, CHIEFS 6
Q2 0:19: Royal takes the kickoff out to the 28-yard line, and on first down, Orton hands off to Buckhalter. The running back picks up seven yards as the clock runs down to the end of the first half. The Broncos lead the Chiefs into the intermission, 14-6.
-Gray Caldwell, DenverBroncos.com