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3 things we learned about the Broncos

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Peyton Manning gets credit for his NFL-record 42nd career fourth-quarter comeback. Linebacker Brandon Marshall took the game ball – literally and figuratively.

“I’ve been in crazy games, but never one quite like that,” Manning said. “Coaches pointed out, this is one you could build off of. This is one you always remember.”

Manning and Marshall helped the Denver Broncos score touchdowns nine seconds apart to shock the Kansas City Chiefs 31-24 at Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday.

The Broncos have won 13 consecutive AFC West road games, an NFL record, and Manning improved to 7-0 with the Broncos against Kansas City.

“This one is pretty unique,” said Manning, who was thinking about overtime and looking at plays on the bench when he heard the sideline erupt with the call of “ball” when Jamaal Charles fumbled.

Marshall forced the ball out, cornerback Bradley Roby scooped it up and ran for a 21-yard game-winning touchdown with 27 seconds left.

“I was just trying to make a play and wasn’t careful with the ball,” Charles said. “I tried to put the team on my back and I ended up losing the game. It’s all on me tonight.”

Manning led an 80-yard scoring drive to tie the game at 24 on a 19-yard pass to Emmanuel Sanders with 36 seconds left in regulation. On the Chiefs’ next play from scrimmage, Charles lost his second fumble of the game.

“One word,” Sanders said. “Resilience.”

What we learned about the Broncos

1. Next week when Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos return to work, the quarterback will be closer to 40 than 39, but he might not field quite as many questions about his professional demise. Manning went 125 attempts since his last touchdown pass, covering the 2014 regular-season finale, 2015 preseason, 40 throws in Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens and most of the first two quarters Thursday.

“Everybody wants those six-touchdown games they’re used to,” wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. “We’ve had two games in which we had to battle it out. Everybody is starting to learn we can win those close games, and that’s big.”

As his offensive line began to offer some safety, Manning found his vintage form and pushed the pace, shifting away from pro-style formations to his preferred stock with three- and four-receiver sets and more shotgun. The offensive line was not perfect Thursday, but the Chiefs’ active front seven and improved secondary made life difficult.

“I stay away from summaries after one game,” Manning said. “I think that’s a pretty safe method. At least let me play two, three, maybe even 16 games.”

2. Speaking of old, 68-year-old Wade Phillips’ hire as defensive coordinator might be a gold mine for head coach Gary Kubiak. Evidence is strong that Phillips’ reunion with outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware looks like a revival of the 33-year-old, who played for Phillips in Dallas. In the first two games of the season, Ware’s pep was evident not only in his nine quarterback hits but in chase plays down the field. His production is aiding linebacker Von Miller, and vice versa. Each had quarterback sacks in the first half.

3. The offensive line bungled blocking assignments against another stout 3-4 front, just as it did Week 1 against the Ravens. Kubiak stuck with it but found zero positive yardage running behind the left side of the line at Kansas City.

Kubiak again shrugged off the rush to bury Manning, who was hit seven times and sacked three times. That is seven sacks in two games, compared to 17 in 16 games last season.

“We’re trying to help him by running the football and do some things,” Kubiak said. “But we also know there are some things that he’s comfortable with. We’re trying to somehow find the meeting between the two. We think that will be good for our team.”

Etc.

–S David Bruton had a drive to forget in the fourth quarter. Earlier, Bruton helped force a red-zone takeaway for the second consecutive game, stripping the ball from RB Jamaal Charles inside the 10 in the first quarter. Another Charles fumble to end the game rescued Bruton from goat status this week.

With 4:44 left, Bruton was called for a 10-yard holding penalty, pushing the Chiefs up to their own 39 in what turned into a go-ahead scoring drive. Two plays later, Bruton was easily scorched by TE Travis Kelce for a 30-yard gain that set up Kansas City at the Broncos’ 31. On RB Knile Davis’ 8-yard TD run, Bruton was flagged again — for unsportsmanlike conduct — moving the kickoff to the 50.

–CB Aqib Talib’s diving second-quarter interception to set up the Broncos for a game-tying score (14-all) in the final two minutes of the first half. It was his 29th pick, tied with Asante Samuel for the most in the NFL since 2008.

–OLB Von Miller’s sack in the first quarter made him the third fastest to 50, reaching the total in 58 games. Only Reggie White (40 games) and Derrick Thomas (54 games) recorded 50 sacks in fewer games.

–OLB DeMarcus Ware got to Chiefs QB Alex Smith for his 129th career sack, passing Hall of Famer Rickey Jackson for 13th on the NFL’s all-time list.


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