30-to-27: A Defensive Battle Won by Special Teams

 

 

 

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30-to-27: A Defensive Battle Won by Special Teams

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The Sunday Night game featuring the Denver Broncos at home versus the Kansas City Chiefs fully lived up to the expectations of getting flexed on the schedule. Two AFC West rivals, both at 7-3, facing off for what might be the edge needed to make the playoffs or win the division.

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I haven’t seen a game this good since Game 5 of the 2007-2008 Stanley Cup Finals between the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins. (The Red Wings are my hockey team so I watch a lot of their games.) After having read many of the game recaps written in a serious way, I thought it might be fun to write one up in a more fun (if you are a KC fan or anti-Bronco fan that is) way. I also wanted to include a lot of fun pictures so we can all enjoy the memories some more. So, here it goes.

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At some point during the game every phase, except Denver Special Teams, showed up and delivered a big play during the game. Watching the first quarter plus it seemed it was going to be an abysmally low scoring game with some of the toughest defense being played in a long time. As the announcers commented, you could basically get your Pro Bowl defense from the players on the field.

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Then, with about 6 minutes left in the first half, “The 12 Seconds” happened. Justin Houston, who was obviously a huge fan of Trevor Siemian, felt an urgent need to give him a hug in the endzone and didn’t want a pigskin covered ovoid between them. Unfortunately this resulted in a Safety and KC going up 2-0. At that point, I thought I might be witnessing the final score.

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First this –

Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston (50) sacks and forces a fumble on Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian (13) that resulted in a safety during the second quarter on Sunday, November 27, 2016. The Denver Broncos hosted the Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)
Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston (50) sacks and forces a fumble on Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian (13) that resulted in a safety during the second quarter on Sunday, November 27, 2016. The Denver Broncos hosted the Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

 

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Then this – 

 

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And Finally This –

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 27: Wide receiver Tyreek Hill #10 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates with De'Anthony Thomas #13 after returning a kickoff for a touchdown in the second quarter of the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 27, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 663937769 ORIG FILE ID: 626200338
DENVER, CO – NOVEMBER 27: Wide receiver Tyreek Hill #10 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates with De’Anthony Thomas #13 after returning a kickoff for a touchdown in the second quarter of the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 27, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 663937769 ORIG FILE ID: 626200338

 

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However, I was incorrect. Denver punted their free kick away to newcomer Tyreek Hill. Hill, as a rookie just learning the NFL rules, thought he was supposed to take the ball back where it was last marked down. But these 11 guys kept trying to grab him.  He made it by them all and put the ball back. This provided 7 more points on the board, 9-0 KC. For the second time in 12 seconds, I thought I was looking at the final score. But Denver was able to move into field goal range with a little under 2 minutes left and put up 3 points, 9-3 KC.

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After halftime the teams came out and it looked like there would be more of the shutdown defense. A 3-and-out by KC was followed by a long slow drive by Denver. When the ref, who apparently failed geometry and his eye test, spotted the ball, the Broncos picked up a first down inside the 10 that they were then able to convert into a TD shortly thereafter, 9-10 Denver.

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Alex Smith then decided he too could lead a 12 play drive of his own. It would have ended a little sooner if the Broncos didn’t attempt to cheat on the Chiefs field goal attempt. From all of us in Chiefs’ Kingdom, “Thanks for being the Broncos.” I think the best part of this drive was the Hill score. From start to finish it was a thing of beauty. Two plays previously, Andy Reid called a “cute” play where Smith lines up as QB, then goes in motion wide and Spencer “I used to play QB” Ware steps up into wildcat formation. Direct snap, read option to Hill, pulls the ball and goes straight ahead. On the TD play, we see the same setup with Smith motion out to the left and Ware stepping into wildcat.  Same read option to Hill, this time he hands it off.

 

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Ware Needs to Get New Reading Glasses
Ware Needs to Get New Reading Glasses

 

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Hill Eludes Miller

 

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As you can see from the first picture this looked like the wrong time to handoff. You have Von Miller coming in free and taking the RB. But, Hill being a rookie, must not know about Miller’s defensive prowess because he slips the tackle and makes the break for the end zone.

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Wilson Getting Involved
Wilson Getting Involved

 

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Wilson Making A Play

 

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The fun wasn’t over on this play though. Chief Fan Favorite, Albert “The Hulk” Wilson gets in on the action and takes another Chief Fan Favorite, Aqib Talib, out of the play, letting Hill walk in untouched, 16-10 KC.

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Wilson Showing the Crane Technique

 

Wilson Feeling Hulky
Wilson Feeling Hulky

 

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On one play we get to see the wildcat, Miller miss an “easy for him” tackle, Wilson throw a killer block, Talib practice receiving a WWF body block, Wilson do the Crane and the Hulk, oh yeah, and score a touchdown.

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Here Comes DAT Truck

Here Comes DAT Truck

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Another Denver punt, then KC offense has a 3 and out where they lose 3 yards on the series. This is where the coverage team shows up. Beautiful punt by Dustin Colquitt from the end zone is muffed by Jordy “Can’t We All Just Get Along” Norwood. From reviewing the play, it appears he got a bit concerned by the freight train named DAT coming his way and took his eye off the ball. Although this didn’t net us any points, it was yet another statement by part of the Chiefs team that they were here to play.

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After another KC 3 and out, Denver burns the defense with a couple of quick hitting long passes for a TD, 16-17 Denver. On this series, I was mostly surprised by Gary Kubiak trying to start something by bumping into a referee. He must have thought they weren’t getting enough calls their way.

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The next KC series goes 66% longer, resulting in a 5 play and out punt.  Although, the punt did leave Denver on their own 4 yard line, facing a defense that had been in their backfield more than some of their RBs. This Denver drive worked a 6 play drive for a touchdown with 5 plays that moved them out to the 24 followed by a 76 yard pass that looked like either busted coverage or Phillip Gaines got lost. Either way, 16-24 Denver with a full 3 minutes left in regulation.

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As I am sure every Chief fan that has watched at least one game in the last few years knows, we are a quick strike, high scoring, dynamic offense, that can literally put points on the board at will. So, eight points in 3 minutes, no problem, what will we do with the other 2:48 (referencing “The 12 Seconds” from earlier).

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Well, in reality, we went the other way. 13 plays, 75 yards, and 2:48 later we have not only produced a touchdown, but the necessary 2 point conversion. Long story short – sack, Conley, Kelce, Conley, Denver Holding, Denver Offsides, Hill, incomplete, Kelce, Conley, Denver Illegal Contact, incomplete, incomplete, incomplete, Hill, Hill TD, Demetrius “Pillow Hands” Harris 2PT, 24-24 all tied up. All of a sudden Alex realizes that the guy in Red/White/Gold with the number 17 on his jersey also plays for the Chiefs.

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Hill For Another Score
Hill For Another Score

 

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I am not sure if I enjoyed Denver finally getting some calls against them that moved us down the field or seeing Hill get his TD because he was bobbling and not down by contact at the 6 inch line or Harris catching that 2PT. I guess I don’t really need to choose, I enjoyed them all.

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After 60 minutes of play, 48 points scored, sacks galore, offense/defense/ST all scoring, we sit tied. As if the adrenaline wasn’t flowing heavy enough from the game already, we now go into a semi-sudden death period. Broncos win the toss and elect to receive. They mount an 11 play, 49 yard, 6:09 minute drive that barely earns 3 via field goal, 24-27 Denver, but KC is still alive.

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For some reason, perhaps they were blacking out from oxygen deprivation at Mile High, but the Broncos decided to kick it right down the middle to DAT. I realize that if it goes out of bounds it costs some yardage, but at least they could have aimed for the end zone corner. I can only guess the return team decided in their huddle that they owned that field, because DAT brought it out from 6 yards deep. He didn’t stop until he was pushed out of bounds at the 35.

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When Alex and the offense come back onto the field they are sitting 65 yards from victory or maybe 30 yards from a tie game – again. They go 10 plays, 46 yards, 4:32 but stall out at the Denver 19. Only option is to kick the field goal and tie it up again, 27-27 tied.

 

Denver then basically replicates the prior KC series, minus the kickoff return and 15 yards of offense. So, there they sit at the KC 44 yard line, 4th and 10. This is no man’s land in a regular situation, even more so in OT. A punt will probably not net many yards with the risk of a touch back, 10 yards on 4th down is a long way and could result in KC ball on the 34+ yard line, but a winning field goal is 62 yards away. Based on how this game was going, Kubiak must have figured the defense could handle the risk of missing the field goal, and the upside of making it was a win. Wide left, 27-27 all tied up, KC ball at the Denver 48. (As an aside, I am not sure why I didn’t know this, but a missed field goal results in a turnover at the spot of the kick not the original LOS. You learn something new everyday. So, apparently going for it on 4th would have been better.)

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At this point the Chiefs must have been on some kind of incredibly crazy high. I would bet they knew it was their destiny to win that night in Denver. But, there was one last bit of drama to the story. To get this drive started the Denver defense wasn’t happy having all that room behind them to defend, so Demarcus Ware jumped offsides and provided a free 5 yards to the KC offense.  After that it was a quick Hill, spike, Kelce, Timeout. On comes Cairo Santos to attempt a field goal from the 16 yard line, nice simple chip shot, barely longer than a PAT. Apparently in Brazil the PAT must count for 4 points if you bank it off an upright, cause that’s what he did. Luckily the announcers quickly called that it went through, because I couldn’t tell when I watched it live. My heart stopped, thinking it was ending in a tie, after all that happened. I need to recharge my AED.

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Kansas City Chiefs Game Gear - Personal AED
Kansas City Chiefs Game Gear – Personal AED (Out of Stock in the KC Metro Area)

 

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While it really was a defensive battle, despite 57 points being scored. The KC defense did give up 464 yards of offense and 3 touchdowns, but a lot of that happened on a few big plays against our backups. The Denver defense only gave up 273 yards of offense, but they also committed 7 penalties for 35 yards at very costly points for them. There were 15 punts during the game, 8 straight to start it. It took 4 field goal attempts to decide the game in overtime, 1 of which missed, due to the KC defensive stand at the edge of FG range.

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On the offensive side of the ball, the teams were nearly dead even statistically speaking, except the yardage/safety, on plays run, first downs, total drives, sacks/sack yards lost, and even time of possession.

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In the end, the offenses and defenses basically played near even, but KC special teams made the difference. Between a kickoff return for a TD, recovering a fumble on punt coverage, every kickoff generating a touchback, 41 yard kickoff return in OT to set up our game tying field goal, and 2 clutch OT field goals (banking one off the left upright for dramatic effect –  word is Cairo forget to tell Colquitt he called bank shot). This unit was the difference maker. Heck, they played so well even the Broncos were cheering when we won the game. Check out the picture below.

 

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DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 27: Kansas City Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos (5) watches his game-winning field goal in overtime as Denver Broncos players react during the Chiefs' 30-27 win on Sunday, November 27, 2016. The Denver Broncos hosted the Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo by Joe Amon/The Denver Post)
DENVER, CO – NOVEMBER 27: Kansas City Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos (5) watches his game-winning field goal in overtime as Denver Broncos players react during the Chiefs’ 30-27 win on Sunday, November 27, 2016. The Denver Broncos hosted the Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo by Joe Amon/The Denver Post)

 

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frank-leggio-the-rub-logo-finalAnd there’s The Rub!

 

 

 

 

 

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Writer’s Note: I am not sure how many of you saw this graphic during the game, but I wanted to share it.

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A Cute Display
A Cute Display

 

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I was wondering if they put that on the big board as some kind of attempt to intimidate the offense by seeing a “big” number. They must not realize that decibel meter in Arrowhead had the same reading at the same time (yes, while the Chiefs were away playing the Broncos and the stadium was empty).

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A Loud Stadium
A Loud Stadium

 

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When it is game time at Arrowhead it looks more like the one above. Well over 30% louder than what Mile High fans can generate. They probably didn’t realize they were embarrassing themselves displaying a little number like theirs to the team that holds the WORLD RECORD for loudest stadium. As a matter of fact, Dec 25 might be a nice night to set a new record.

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Go Chiefs!

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Frank Leggio
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Frank Leggio

Frank Leggio is an operations director living in the Columbus, OH area.He has two sons and a couple of Beagles.He was born in Germany, went to high school in KS and college in CO.
Frank Leggio
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  • berttheclock

    What makes this even more interesting is over at AP is a pickup of one of the Donkie fans ranting about how their Special Teams cost them the win.

  • berttheclock

    Big HooRah – Both Maclin and Dee Ford were back at practice, today.

  • berttheclock

    Funny thing about that sign shown in Denver. Atop it is the name of the stadium which is Sports Authority. Sports Authority, the company which paid for the naming rights to the former Mile High, went belly up at the end of August past. The Broncos went belly up Sunday night late.

    • larry mckinney

      Donks actually had to buy back the naming rights from the bankruptcy trustee and are searching for a new stand-in at (Your Name Here) Stadium @ Mile Hi.

      • larry mckinney

        Had they not done that purchase, the trustee could have sold it to anyone. Like, maybe, Clark Hunt. Imagine Arrowhead West @ Mile Hi!

        • berttheclock

          Do you remember when Cool Lenny tried to buy a Coors franchise for the Kansas City area and Coors refused to sell to him because he had played for the Chiefs?

          • larry mckinney

            Funny. Couldn’t get the beer franchise. Had to be satisfied with “owning” the Broncos.

          • Laurels and limitations

            ah, the good ol’ days, when rivalries actually meant something.

        • Frank Leggio

          Or “Wannabe Arrowhead”

      • Laurels and limitations

        I wish I was a billionaire. I’d buy the place and name it “Bronco Suck”. Oh, and I’d also disallow Denver to practice in their own stadium, evict Elway from his office, outlaw the color orange and wearing stupid hats. That outta do it.

        • Frank Leggio

          That would be worth a couple billion. I bet you could raise the money in the KC market alone. Like $100 per entry and the best name wins.

    • Frank Leggio

      Interesting, I didn’t realize that happened. That is probably worth an article on its own.

  • berttheclock

    The Broncos lost their starting fullback, the tough Andy Janovich from Nebraska to a season ending ankle injury suffered in Sunday night’s game. He had been in on 34 snaps, mostly used as a blocker. Simien injured his foot in the game and has missed practice today.

    • larry mckinney

      They’ve announced Siemian is out for the next game. Foot is in a walking cast from Houston’s final tackle where he gained 2 yards.

      • berttheclock

        I’m surprised so many of the Chiefs came out of the game in good shape. There was a ton of hard and legal hitting in that game. Bet you the whirlppools at Arrowhead were filled the last couple of days.

        • now that the Chiefs have written the game in the book and it is in the W column, I want to state that I thought both teams worked their butts off in this game in all three phases. S/T? The Chiefs succeeded where the Broncos did not. My point? I wasn’t hollering about dirty play and hits by the Broncos and especially Von Miller. It was a well contested game and one of the most interesting games of recent memory: hard hitting, chewing nails play that had me up and down through out. And What a regulation finale to witness, especially after the Broncos took the big lead.

          • Frank Leggio

            I agree. I didn’t see any dirty hits, like in the past. I do think they penalty calling was slight slanted Denver way though. That’s not on the team though. That game truly couldn’t have been much more even.

        • Frank Leggio

          I was wondering about that too. Hammer or Nail, I guess. From what I saw there were a lot of hammers in Red and Gold.

          I am really hoping that we don’t see that phenomena where you have a massive let down from an emotional game like we just saw. We could lose to the Browns because of something like that, let alone playing a team like the Falcons.

  • Laurels and limitations

    Absolutely hilarious article, I loved it. I was thinking about going back and counting hoe many jokes were in there but I’m pretty sure the answer is…all of them. Nicely done.

    • Frank Leggio

      I had fun writing it. I loved that picture at the end of the Broncos and Santos with their arms raised. I wanted to add the Twitter post with Santos bagging on Colquitt too.

  • gotta agre-e-e-e with L&L… Thanks too much for this one Frank…

  • berttheclock

    In this great thread, Frank says ‘Spencer “I used to play QB” Ware’. Did anyone know at Princeton High School in Sharonville, Ohio, Ware did play QB for his sophomore and junior years, then, switched to play both RB and DB for his senior year? His stats as a QB were 204 completions out of 340 attempts for 2,881 yards, 20 TDs and 12 INTs. HIs longest pass was for 75 yards. His overall rushing for 3 years was 393 rushes for 1801 yards, a 4.6 average with one of 73 yards and scored 14 TDs.

    • berttheclock

      So, the Chiefs have at least 6 players who played QB in high school. Ware, Albert Wilson, Travis Kelce and Alex Smith, plus, both Bray and Foles. There may be others, as well. Not a bad position to learn leadership early on. Even the best punter in the NFL, Johnny Hecker of the Rams played QB for his junior and senior seasons in high school..

    • Frank Leggio

      I didn’t know where he played or his stats, but I have heard announcers say it a few times. I think they said it when he went into the first wildcat.

  • larry mckinney

    Very clever Frank. You made me roll on the floor.

    • larry mckinney

      “Thanks for being the Broncos!” Great, great line. Spittle emerged from my nostrils

      • Frank Leggio

        Glad you liked it. It doesn’t seem to happen often, but it is nice to enjoy it when things like that happen.

  • drwillez37

    Funny to have this common ground in the Chiefs…..but F….The Red Wings…Go Stars!!!!!

    • Frank Leggio

      They didn’t go to well last night. 3-1 Wings!

  • KCMikeG

    Way to go Frank! My favorite was the donkey players cheering our win! LMAO!

    • Frank Leggio

      Thanks. I think that was my favorite too.

    • sidibeke

      Agree. Making me smile again, right now.

  • Frank Leggio

    Out of curiosity, did anyone enjoy watching Allie Will get so pumped up after that block for the Hill rushing score? He blew up Talib.

    • Laurels and limitations

      I loved it, that block solidified the end for Hill to walk it in for 6. Plus Talib got his butt handed to him and tossed into the dirt, always a plus.

  • sidibeke

    Ford and Maclin back at practice (limited). Reyes also LP, Houston FP (shoulder). I don’t want to rush anyone, want the fullest aresenal possible, but I think it would be awesome to have Ford available with Houston this game. Maclin would be nice, too, but I guess if I had to choose between Ford and him, I’d rather the extra pass rush.

    • sidibeke

      And Nelson is listed as a full participant, too.

  • sidibeke

    I’ve been reading Falcon fans talking smack about beating Den but am just now seeing that was against Paxton Lynch. I know every fan base has its screw balls (KC’s included), but I’m seeing some down right delusional stuff (35-17 Atl win, etc.). We shall see.

    • Frank Leggio

      That does sound delusional. What I find interesting is how many people (myself included) will focus on a couple of things that are supposed to make the difference in a game. The reality is that there are like a billion things going on and there are ripple effects when any of them change. It can be an injury or a different gameplan. It can be someone having a breakout or a real off game. And sometimes, it can come down to a bad call or someone falling down due to loose turf. It just isn’t as simple as we would like it to be.

      I don’t mind trying to look at statistics, past performance, or whatever and arguing a point of who will win and the score and all. But, the people that really believe they know that it will happen are delusional.