Jamaal Charles appears to be the guy the Chiefs can build their franchise around. The second year player out of Texas ran for a Chiefs-record 259 yards on 25 carries and linebacker Derrick Johnson returned two interceptions off Denver quarterback Kyle Orton for touchdowns as the Chiefs bounced the Broncos from any chance at the playoffs in a 44-24 Chiefs win in Denver.
It was the first win for the Chiefs in nine games in the Mile High City. I thought former Chiefs defensive end Vonnie Holliday summed it up best. He said “These guys had over 500 yards of total offense. I don’t think they’ve gotten that in the last three, four games. It’s ridiculous.”
The turning point in the game came in the third quarter. Ryan Succop hit at 36 yard field goal to put the Chiefs up 20-17 with 5:39 left in the third quarter. On Denver’s next possession, Johnson picked off Orton and went back 45 yards for the score to make it a 10 point game. Denver cut it back to three on Brandon Stokley’s three yard catch from Orton to make it 27-24 late in the third.
In the fourth, another Succop field goal, his third of the game, and then another Johnson interception put the game out of reach. DJ’s second record was a 60 yard score. Then for good measure, Charles popped off a 56 yard run with 6:25 to go in the game to seal the deal. Charles’ 259 yards breaks the record previously held by Larry Johnson who ran for 211 back in 2005. Charles replaced Johnson earlier this season when the Chiefs finally cut him.
Denver ran 20 more plays than the Chiefs and racked up 512 yards of total offense getting a big game from Jabbar Gaffney who had 14 catches for 213 yards. He stepped up after the Broncos benched Brandon Marshall, their top receiver. He complained of a sore hamstring this week, then never went to rehab. He also quit practicing when he complained about the cold.
Say this about Todd Haley. At times, he looked a little overwhelmed when it came to head coaching decisions and while Broncos’ first year coach Josh McDaniels looked like he had an early grasp of the X’s and O’s, he’s had no control over his players. He’s been battling with Marshall all year and couldn’t work out differences with Jay Cutler and got stuck with Kyle Orton. Say what you want about Cutler’s interceptions, which are tops in the NFL, but he had no receivers in Chicago and I believe would have led Denver into the playoffs.
My point, Haley probably gets a C- for his grade in his first season, but the guy can lead players. Once they get some hands on receivers who can catch the ball for Matt Cassel, along with Charles’ running ability, you’ll see the offense come around next season. Keep your chin up fans, I don’t think it will be too long before you see the Chiefs contending for the AFC West again.