Originally posted on Fox Sports Kansas City  |  Last updated 11/13/11
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No, Tim Tebow was not the story. Everyone in Denver and around the NFL seems intoxicated beyond all reason in the debate over Tebow's future or lack of one as the Broncos' savior at quarterback. And yes, the lefty from Florida who throws as many curves and sinkers as he manages fastballs, is now 3-1 as a starter on the back of Denver's 17-10 victory at Kansas City Sunday afternoon. But the anti-Tebow brigade will no doubt point out that with a "proper" quarterback running the offense, Denver might have won this old-fashioned slugfest in the blowout. There's a heck of a case for that, too. The Broncos totally dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, rushing at will despite losing their top two runners, Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno, in the first half and mounting a furious pass rush that rendered Chiefs QB Matt Cassel ineffective at first and wounded at the finish. McGahee injured his hamstring on the Broncos first series, and Moreno hurt his knee later in the first half, leaving the heavy load to third-stringer Lance Ball, who pounded away for 96 yards on 30 carries. This felt like a game from the 1960s. Or maybe the 1860s. Denver threw the ball exactly eight times, and Tebow completed only two. One of those, however, was the kill shot a 56-yard bomb to Erik Decker that came with Denver leading just 10-7 and Chiefs still looking for a chance to steal a critical AFC West victory. Tebow's detractors, of course, will point out that he missed on a couple other long throws when Decker was open and that Denver was having so much success running that ball that almost any play-action pass would spring a receiver clear for what essentially was a pretty basic throw. Denver is now 4-5 and one game behind Oakland in the division, and the powerful young Broncos are a legitimate threat to make the playoffs even if Tebow is a spectator for long stretches of time. Broncos coach John Fox didn't apologize for helping create an afternoon lacking in thrills. "We're just trying to be efficient and do what it takes to win in this league," Fox said. "We were able to move the chains. "We should have gotten more than 17 points, but it was enough for us to win." Denver pounded the ball on the ground to the tune of 55 carries for 244 yards with the only highlight play a 24-yard romp by Moreno, on which he hurdled Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers, to set up the Broncos' first TD. Tebow finished that drive by doing what he does best, banging 7 yards for the score -- a called run on which he bounced off three or four potential tacklers. Fox loved it all, and claimed his line was having a pretty good time, too. "If you talk to offensive linemen, they like going forwards more than they like going backwards," Fox said. "It's a mindset our guys believe in. Hopefully we can continue to grow with that." Tebow wasn't apologetic, either even though it was clear the Denver coaching staff wasn't willing to trust him with any tough throws while clinging to a slender lead. "I'm a football player first before a quarterback," Tebow said. "Whatever we can do to win games, that's what we need to do. I play this game to win." The Chiefs, meanwhile, have been exposed the past two weeks as a team that can be shoved around and faces serious issues protecting Cassel. Kansas City never really established a running game, and Cassel was sacked four times while under withering heat from a Broncos front led by Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. Cassel was 13 of 28 for a skimpy 93 yards, and his only bright moment owed more to ball-handling than accuracy a 1-yard TD pass to running back Le'Ron McClain on which Cassel faked a dive play, hid the ball on his hip and eventually tossed it to a wide-open McClain in the back of the end zone. That score cut Denver's lead to 10-7 heading into the fourth quarter, but the Chiefs couldn't get anything else going until the final minute and a half when scrambling backup QB Tyler Palko came on to complete five of six throws and set up a Ryan Succop field goal with seven seconds remaining. The Chiefs actually had a shot at the ensuing onside kick in their quest for a miracle finish, but Denver recovered after a wild scrum. Ironically, Kansas City's most eye-popping play of the afternoon came to nothing. Rookie wideout Jon Baldwin made an almost unbelievable catch somehow pinning the ball on the back on defender Brian Dawkins and then wrestling control of it as he fell for what would have been a 58-yard gain. Typical of the Chiefs' woes, however, the play was called back because fellow wide receiver Steve Breaston had lined up illegally on the other side of the field. The Chiefs now have produced just 13 points in back-to-back losses to Miami and Denver. The Broncos came into this game ranked next-to-last in total defense, but looked like Pittsburgh's old "Steel Curtain" against the Chiefs' overwhelmed offensive line. "We had too many dropped balls, protection issues, poor execution," coach Todd Haley said of the Chiefs' struggling offense. "We wanted to come out and play sharp offensively, especially early in the game. But there were too many negatives to put us in a position where we could succeed." As for Kansas City's defensive nightmare, Haley chose to credit Denver. "Give John Fox and his staff a bunch of credit, (because) we were unable to stop the run," Haley said. "They had a terrific plan, and it took us too long to figure out how to get the run stopped, whoever was running it -- whether it was the quarterback or the running backs."
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