Charles fumbles, Chiefs collapse in 31-24 loss to Broncos
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jamaal Charles’ first fumble Thursday night cost the Chiefs an opportunity at points.
His second fumble essentially cost them the game.
Denver cornerback Bradley Roby returned it 21 yards for a touchdown with 27 seconds left — just moments after Peyton Manning’s touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders tied it — and the Broncos beat Kansas City 31-24 to extend their winning streak to seven over their AFC West rival.
“I was just trying to make a play and wasn’t careful with the ball,” Charles said. “I caused us the loss today. I tried to put the team on my back and I ended up losing the game.”
Charles finished with 125 yards rushing and a touchdown, but he will only remember his fumbles — one in the red zone early in the game, the other deep in his own territory late.
“I’m not quite sure I’d ever been in one quite like that,” said Manning, who threw for 256 yards and three touchdowns in improving to 14-1 against Kansas City. “That was a new one.”
The about-face came after Knile Davis gave Kansas City the lead with 2:27 left on an 8-yard run, raising hope among a sellout crowd that the Chiefs (1-1) might finally end their Denver curse.
“We thought we had it won,” Davis said. “Unfortunately they made the touchdown and it was our time to overcome and win the game, and we couldn’t finish. It was an emotional rollercoaster.”
Alex Smith threw for 191 yards for Kansas City, but he also has two passes picked off as the Chiefs turned the ball over five times in a sloppy affafir.
Manning threw a pick-six of his own, but the veteran responded when it mattered the most.
The Broncos took over at their own 20 after Davis had given Kansas City the lead, and the seven-time All-Pro marched them calmly down field. Manning found Demaryius Thomas for three long receptions to get deep into Chiefs territory, then hit Sanders with a strike over the middle on third-and-10 from the Chiefs 19 for the touchdown that kept Denver alive.
“That last drive was really good,” said Manning, who joined Brett Favre during the game as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with at least 70,000 yards passing. “I’m really proud of our young offensive line — no poise issues, no communication issues.”
The victory was the 13th straight for Denver on the road in the division, breaking a tie with the San Francisco 49ers (1987-90) for the most in NFL history.
“We keep talking about battling and battling for four quarters,” Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said. “Even when it looked its worst at the end, No. 18 takes us down. I’m just proud.”
The late-game dramatics transpired after the Chiefs bolted to a 14-0 lead in their home-opener, energizing a boisterous, red-clad crowd that had been tailgating all afternoon.
But like he has so often against the Chiefs, Manning answered by leading Denver on an 80-yard TD march late in the first half. The capper was a pass over the middle to Sanders, who slipped between the safeties and somersaulted into the end zone for the 16-yard touchdown reception.
Two plays later, Aqib Talib picked off Smith’s throw on a poorly thrown pass in the flat, and the Broncos needed just four plays for Manning to find Virgil Green with a tying touchdown toss.
After swapping field goals, the Chiefs were poised to celebrate when Davis took a handoff from Smith as the quarterback fell down and raced into the end zone late in the fourth quarter.
Turned out to be not late enough for Manning and the Broncos.
“We had five turnovers. Everybody had a little piece of that, in all five of them,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “We could have all done better, head coach included.”
NOTES: Thomas finished with eight catches for 116 yards. ... Smith was sacked four times. Manning was sacked three times, twice by Justin Houston. ... The Chiefs had two penalties vs Houston. They had nine vs Denver. ... Kansas City was 0 for 7 on third down.
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