Only three running backs have surpassed the 100-yard mark against the Denver defense in 2012. The last one to do it – the Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles — is coming to Denver on Sunday.
Denver has faced a handful of elite rushers in 2012 and has fared well enough to stand as NFL’s the third-ranked rush defense heading into Week 17.
But five weeks ago, Charles ran it 23 times for 107 yards against the Broncos. The Chiefs hope to feed them another heavy dose of Charles on Sunday.
“Jamaal has done a really nice job for us, has a chance to become a 1,500-yard rusher and that’s something that doesn’t happen every day,” Kansas City Head Coach Romeo Crennel said in a conference call. “Everybody can’t do that. He has good ability and he’s helped this team quite a bit.”
Charles is in rare territory in 2012. He leads the AFC in rushing yards per game by almost 9 yards and is also first in yards from scrimmage per game, more than 4 ahead of Ravens running back Ray Rice.
Last week against the playoff-bound Indianapolis Colts, the Chiefs rushed for 352 yards in a loss. They became the first team in NFL history to top 350 yards on the ground and lose the game.
While they were dominant on the ground – Charles averaged more than 10 yards per carry while rushing for 233 yards – there were other areas that led to their demise. Three turnovers, nine penalties and a missed field goal were contributors to the 20-13 loss.
“The key statistic as far as determining wins and losses is turnovers,” Chiefs quarterback Brady Quinn said. “We had three turnovers, and you can’t ever do that in a game and expect to come away with a win. Unfortunately for us, two of those were in the red zone. One ended up in seven points for the other team, so one was taking points away from us, and the other was obviously giving them points on the other turnover. That’s a key for us every week: continuing to not turn the ball over, continuing to do the things we do in the run game and executing better in the passing game.”
Quinn is aware of the turnover problem, and so is his coach. The quarterback has started the last five games for Kansas City and played as the predominant quarterback in the last six. In Weeks 11, 12 and 13, Quinn turned the ball over just once.
In the last three games, the quarterback has thrown four picks. Crennel is looking to see improvement in the season finale against the Broncos.
“We turned the ball over last week and (Quinn) hadn’t been doing that since he started playing more,” Crennel said. “And so we’ve got to improve upon that turnover thing because, as I mentioned, that’s been one of the things that has been hurting us all year.”