The rematch showed just how good this defense can be.
On a day in which the offense was incredibly sluggish, the Chiefs defense answered the call Sunday, leading the way in a 10-6 win over the Broncos, keeping the team in first place in the AFC West.
The win also put the Chiefs at 8-4, guaranteeing the first nonlosing season in this town in a while.
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And up front, the play of Hali could be described as game-changing.
The Chiefs pass rusher had two sacks on the day – his first sacks in four weeks – but it was his last sack that turned the game around.
With the Chiefs milking the 10-6 lead, Denver was driving and got inside the Chiefs 30-yard-line. Hali sacks Denver quarterback Kyle Orton, strips the ball AND recovers it. Though the Chiefs did nothing with the ball on the ensuing drive, stopping Denver without giving up any points in that situation kept all the momentum with the Chiefs.
The two sacks today give Hali 10 this season – as many as the entire team had two seasons ago.
The shift of Hali from 4-3 defensive end to 3-4 rush linebacker has definitely paid off to say the least.
There are still some concerns in this game. The offense did not look sharp. For the first time this year, Jamaal Charles didn’t look like the best running back on the field – even though you can’t complain about 5.5 yards per carry. However, compared to Knowshon Moreno and how inept the Chiefs rush defense looked, Charles looked more pedestrian than usual in a game with that many carries.
Champ Bailey helped shut down Dwayne Bowe, holding the Chiefs receiver without a catch for the first time this year – and without a touchdown for the first time in a long time. And without Bowe, the passing game with Matt Cassel struggled. That said, it was good to see Dexter McCluster back, despite the lost fumble at a key point.
It further reinforces to me that these last two wins for the Chiefs were just as much a product of the Chiefs playing well as it was playing inferior NFC West opponents.
Needless to say, this coming week against the San Diego Chargers is the biggest game of the year for the Chiefs. Win and you win the division. You’ll have essentially at least a 3-game lead in the division with the tiebreakers and only three games to go.
But if the Chiefs look like this offensively, it’s going to be tough. San Diego is a better team and the game will be on the road. It’s going to be a good one.