KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs had no answer for Peyton Manning and Eric Decker.
In two tries this season, they haven’t had an answer for the Denver Broncos, either.
Manning threw for 403 yards and five touchdowns, four of them to Decker, and the Broncos held off a furious rally to beat the Chiefs 35-28 on Sunday and seize control of the AFC West.
Decker had eight catches for a career-high 174 yards for the Broncos (10-2), who moved a game clear of the Chiefs (9-3) in the division. With four games left, Denver also holds the tiebreaker by virtue two wins over Kansas City in the last three weeks. The Broncos have the AFC’s best record.
Jamaal Charles had 93 yards rushing for the Chiefs, and capped a 17-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 6:32 left in the game to close within a touchdown.
After forcing a punt with 3:32 remaining, Kansas City used three long pass plays to move deep into Broncos territory. But Alex Smith’s pass to Dwayne Bowe in the end zone on fourth-and-4 with 1:45 left fell incomplete, allowing the Broncos to run out the clock.
Smith threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns for Kansas City, while Knile Davis returned a kickoff 108 yards for another score as the Chiefs jumped out to a 21-7 lead.
The Broncos promptly scored 28 straight points to take control.
Denver did it without of slew of injured players, including three starters on defense and tight end Julius Thomas, who has developed into one of Manning’s favorite red-zone targets.
No need to worry. Decker more than shouldered the burden.
The fourth-year pro caught a 41-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, two more TD passes in the third and a short fade for a score in the fourth quarter. Most of the time, Decker was abusing Chiefs defensive back Marcus Cooper, an undrafted free agent who’d become a starter.