KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s not in Alex Smith’s competitive nature to sit on the ball.
The quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs likes to run an up-tempo offense, wing the ball all over the field, tuck it under and scramble when things get hairy. But slow things down? Keep the other offense off the field? That’s a hard idea for him to accept.
It might be the Chiefs’ best shot at beating Denver on Sunday.
While the intoxicating matchup of Peyton Manning and the Broncos’ high-flying offense against Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and the Chiefs’ ferocious defense has garnered the spotlight this week, what happens when they’re off the field could prove just as critical to the outcome.
After all, the Broncos (8-1) can’t win if they can’t score, and they can’t score if Manning and his trusty lieutenants are standing on the sideline.
“I’ve heard that strategy before, keep-away, but that’s certainly not something we’re even talking about or focusing on at all,” Smith said. “We have to go out there and execute. I think if you go out there and play keep-away, it’s hard for good things to happen.”
Then again, it’s easy to keep bad things from happening, too.
Smith has earned a reputation for being a “game manager,” and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. He may not throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns like Manning, but he’s also not prone to interceptions and fumbles — the kind of egregious mistakes that can cost a win.
That’s the biggest reason why he’s 28-5-1 as a starter since 2011, second to Manning (21-4) among active quarterbacks who have made at least 20 starts over the past three seasons.
“He’s done a nice job of landing on his feet there,” said Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, who is also serving as interim coach while John Fox is recovering from heart surgery.