Chiefs beat Denver, end 12-game losing streak
September 29, 2008
KANSAS CITY, Mo. ” Two weeks ago Kansas City was winless, Denver was unbeaten and Larry Johnson complained about being phased out of the Chiefs’ offense.
How quickly things change, especially in the NFL.
Now the Chiefs have put an end to the longest losing streak in franchise history, the Broncos are telling everybody not to panic and Johnson has 319 yards rushing in his past two games.
“We sat down and we came up with solutions to what was going on,” said Johnson, who also scored two TDs to help end a franchise-record 12-game losing streak with a 33-19 win over the Broncos on Sunday . “We wanted to enhance our running game and get back to what the Chiefs do the best.”
The losing skid had weighed heavily on everybody connected with the Chiefs (1-3) and spurred angry fans to criticize everybody from the general manager to the quarterbacks coach.
Herm Edwards, coach of the youthful, victory-starved team, looked as relieved as everyone else.
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“Our guys played with a lot of emotion and we took the ball away. Those kids deserve a win,” he said. “Our fans deserve a win, too. I’ve never been in a drought like this before.”
The Broncos (3-1) came to town as one of five 3-0 teams, riding a lucky streak that included an official’s crucial error and Martin Gramatica’s sudden inaccuracy. But instead of being lucky, the Broncos were sloppy. Jay Cutler threw two interceptions and the Broncos lost two fumbles.
“You can’t have four turnovers offensively and score a lot of points,” said Cutler who was 29-for-49 for 361 yards. “We are 3-1. You know there’s a lot of football left. We’re still a good football team and we can’t go into a panic here.”
The Chiefs had not won since Oct. 21, 2007.
“It’s like getting the whole world off your back,” said rookie cornerback Brandon Flowers, whose 37-yard fumble return set up Johnson’s 1-yard TD run. “Twelve games, that’s real tough.”
Until Nick Novak kicked the first of his three field goals in the first quarter, they hadn’t even held a lead since halftime against Tennessee on Dec. 16 ” a span of 22 quarters.
At first, it looked like the Broncos were still on their lucky streak. The Chiefs, averaging 10.7 points, turned two touchdown opportunities into two short field goals and Cutler connected with Brandon Marshall on a 16-yard scoring pass to take a 7-6 lead. But the turnovers and Johnson’s tackle-breaking runs proved too much.
“This was a must-win game for this football team,” said linebacker Derrick Johnson, who had one of the interceptions. “We were getting kind of frazzled. The Denver Broncos played good football. They didn’t just let us have it. We just fought. We had fight.”
Johnson got the Chiefs off and running with a 65-yard run on their first possession.
“I think it helped everybody as far as everybody being explosive and everybody understanding that we could run the ball,” he said.
“When they came in, everybody was like, ‘Oh, they’re 3-0. The Broncos are beating good teams,'” Johnson said. “When that run happened, I think everyone opened their eyes and said, ‘We can move the ball on this team.'”
For one blurring instant at the end, Lady Luck seemed ready to smile once again on the Broncos. On an onside kick after Matt Prater’s field goal made it 26-19 with 1:43 left, Denver’s Spencer Larsen got his hand on the ball. But KC’s Kolby Smith emerged from the pile with the ball and Johnson went 16 yards, breaking tackles, to clinch the win and make it three straight weeks the Broncos had given up 30 or more points.
“Like we say in this league, ‘On any given Sunday, a team can win,'” cornerback Dre’ Bly said. “Just because they were winless didn’t mean they couldn’t win.”
Notes: Kansas City’s Tony Gonzalez had a 10-yard touchdown catch and needs 3 yards receiving to set the NFL record for tight ends. … It was Johnson’s 29th 100-yard game. … Prater’s 56-yard field goal was the third-longest in Broncos team history but the longest kicked somewhere besides the thin air of Denver. Oakland’s Sebastian Janikowski also had a 56-yarder in KC’s previous home game.
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