Peyton Manning might not be completely healthy.
But it might not matter.
The Broncos quarterback with the sore right ankle had plenty of help from a fired-up defense, which wanted to show they could stop someone too.
The Broncos held the previously undefeated Chiefs in check during a 27-17 win, and it wasn’t the kind of win the Broncos were accustomed to.
These guys normally play in the 30s (if not the 40s or 50s), so there’s not a premium on their front being dominant.
But against the Chiefs, their line played well, and they got an excellent night from linebackers Wesley Woodyard and Danny Trevathan.
If the Broncos can stop teams the way they did the Chiefs (many of the passing yards were cosmetic), they can be an excellent team. But it will be much tougher for them next week against Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:
1. Two guys who quietly did solid work for most of the night were Broncos tackles Chris Clark and Orlando Franklin.
Clark hasn’t always been great in relief of injured left tackle Ryan Clady, but he stood up well, keeping Manning on his feet throughout the first half.
The Chiefs have made a living getting pressure on quarterbacks, but seemed out of sorts when it didn’t pay off.
2. On the other side of the ball, Chiefs right tackle Eric Fisher does not look like a guy who was worth the first pick in the draft.
He was drafted into a team without an immediate need at left tackle, so moving him to the right made sense. But he looked overmatched at times against the Broncos front, and has too often been noticed this year (the wrong way).
He could still grow into a worthwhile tackle, but if he moves back to the left eventually, he’s going to have to improve as a pass-protector to be worth it.
They are 9-1, and he is good in the run game. But at the moment, it’s a little hard to justify.
3. This just in: The Chiefs are not what you’d call a dynamic offensive team.
But there were probably chances there for them, as wide receiver Dwayne Bowe was running with wide swaths of open field at times. They seem more unwilling than unable to throw it downfield, as quarterback Alex Smith played it safe-as-called.
The Broncos secondary has been hit with injuries and is thin, but Bowe was practically uncover-able at times, and the Chiefs didn’t find him often enough.
And with their early nerves (a false start on their first play of the game in a noisy Invesco Field), it took them too long to get a running game going, which is never a good idea when you’re built the way they are.
4. Broncos running back Montee Ball was able to get a little redemption with his third-quarter touchdown.
And it’s significant that the Broncos continued to give him chances.
A first-half fumble was credited to Manning, though it was a clear miscommunication between the two. The Broncos have doghoused runners before (Ronnie Hillman), and as the season wears on, Knowshon Moreno will probably still get the bulk of the opportunities.
But adding another back they can trust will be huge for them in these kind of games in the future, and allowing Ball to regain that trust should pay dividends in the future.
5. Craig Colquitt needs a new agent. Or advice from Archie Manning.
Because he didn’t get nearly enough run over the last week for the punter duel between his sons Dustin and Britton.
The former Steelers and Colts punter didn’t seem to be doing many interviews about the high-profile duel between his kids.
Maybe when they meet again in two weeks, considering his kids did more work than most of the other guys in the stadium, he’ll draw a little more notice.