View Full Version : Mile High Misery - Team may lean on defense for support

09-26-2005, 12:55 PM
Published Monday, September 26, 2005

By Rick Dean
The Capital-Journal

Dick Vermeil took justifiable exception the other day when a reporter asked why Trent Green has struggled in his four games with the Chiefs at Denver's Invesco Field.

"He's had a couple of big games up there, too, but we had to score more than 40 points to win," Vermeil countered. "I don't know what the average score of our games (in Denver) have been over the last four years, but it's frightening."

It's scary, indeed. In the past three years of Kansas City's Mile High Misery, the Broncos have averaged 36 points per game. That number drops to a mere 32 points when factoring in Denver's 20-6 win that started the four-game Invesco winning streak in 2001. But that was a game in which Green, in just his fourth game as a Chief, threw four interceptions.

But Vermeil's point remains well-founded. The Kansas City offense, which has averaged 25 points in Denver during the past three losses, hasn't been the problem in winning at Mile High.

"We've had some very productive offensive games in Denver," Vermeil noted, "but we've never been able to really slow them down enough to beat 'em. We know what we have to do."

That is what makes today's 8 p.m. Monday Night Football game between the Chiefs and Broncos so interesting. For at long last, the 2-0 Chiefs finally appear to have a defense that may not force its offense to score at a level last achieved by Vermeil's 2000 Rams.

After giving up only 24 points and 128 rushing yards in victories over the Jets (and NFL rushing leader Curtis Martin) and the Raiders (and Randy Moss), Kansas City may be in its best position in years to limit a Denver running game that has averaged 212 yards per game during the four-game winning streak.

Now, if the Chiefs' pass defense, which has been burned for 294.5 passing yards per game (third from worst in the league) can limit Jake Plummer, Rod Smith and Ashlee Lelie, the Chiefs have a prime chance in prime time to snap their Front Range losing streak and grab undisputed control of the AFC West with a 3-0 lead.

"We haven't been able to prevent them from making big plays both in the running game and passing game in years past," Vermeil said. "I think we're more equipped to do that now than we have in the past."

Green thinks so, too. Enough so that he says the Chiefs' offense no longer feels as compelled to try the high-risk, high-reward plays that were a staple of the game plan a year ago when Kansas City often had to come back fighting from big deficits.

"You don't necessarily feel that stress to take chances, and that helps out in the turnover department," said Green, who hasn't thrown a TD pass this year but has only one interception.

The Chiefs would like nothing better than to get an early lead and then go conservative to take the Denver crowd out of the game. A ball-control running game against Denver's 22nd-ranked rush defense could be huge here.

Priest Holmes, remember, is the only opposing running back to post a 100-game game at Invesco Field since its opening in 2001, and he has done it twice -- 161 yards in 2002 and 151 in '03.


Kickoff: 8 p.m., Invesco Field, Denver

Records: Chiefs 2-0, Broncos 1-2 TV: KTKA (49), KMBC (9)

Radio: WIBW-AM (580), KCFX-FM (101.1) Line: Broncos by 3


When Joe Montana led the Chiefs to a last-second win in 1994, it was the first time in 11 years they won in Denver. Since:

2004: Broncos 34, Chiefs 27

2003: Broncos 45, Chiefs 27

2002: Broncos 31, Chiefs 24

2001: Broncos 20, Chiefs 6

2000: Chiefs 23, Broncos 22

1999: Chiefs 16, Broncos 10

1998: Broncos 19, Chiefs 3

1997: Broncos 19, Chiefs 3

1996: Broncos 34, Chiefs 7

1995: Chiefs 21, Broncos 7

All-time: Broncos 28, Chiefs 18

Link (http://www.cjonline.com/stories/092605/chi_milehighmis.shtml)