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(Sunday, January 3rd)
Final Score: Kansas City 44, Denver 24
Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Jamaal Charles led the offense with 259 rushing yards and two scores, while Derrick Johnson paced the defense with two touchdowns off a pair of interceptions, as the Kansas City Chiefs eliminated the Denver Broncos from playoff contention with a 44-24 victory in Week 17 action.
Charles' big performance on the ground broke Larry Johnson's club record for most rushing yards in a single game (211). Charles carried the ball 25 times for the Chiefs (4-12), who snapped a five-game skid.
Matt Cassel connected on 13-of-24 passes for 207 yards and an interception. Chris Chambers caught five passes for 80 yards to lead the receiving corps.
"I was very pleased with our performance today. Defensively: too many big plays. Obviously, we let that number 10 [Broncos WR Jabar Gaffney] step in at the end for a couple of changes they had in their line-up and made too many plays. But I have to take my hat off to our team. We stuck together. We fought it out, and we ended up coming out on top in a building we hadn't won in [no home win in Denver in ten years] against a team we will face at least two times next year. So, this was an important win for the Kansas City Chiefs and for that group of guys in there," Chiefs head coach Todd Haley said.
Knowshon Moreno carried the ball 14 times for 50 yards and two TDs for the Broncos (8-8), who finished the season 2-8 after winning the first six games of the year.
Kyle Orton completed 32-of-56 passes for a career-high 431 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Jabar Gaffney had 14 catches for a career-best 213 yards, while Brandon Stokley had a TD catch in defeat.
The Broncos missed the postseason for a fourth consecutive year, which is the longest such stretch since 1960-76, when the organization failed to secure a postseason berth in its first 17 years of existence. Denver was also missing two offensive weapons on Sunday, as head coach Josh McDaniels held wide receiver Brandon Marshall and tight end Tony Scheffler out of the game.
McDaniels and Marshall conflicted on the severity of Marshall's hamstring injury during the week, and McDaniels decided that Marshall was not showing enough "accountability," which forced the first-year head coach to deactivate Marshall.
"There's a lot of things that go into being able to sustain success and we didn't do that, we weren't able to do that. It's not one thing that's wrong. I think there's a lot of things you evaluate at the end of the season and you're trying to do that during the season and sometimes you can and sometimes you can make changes that affect that and sometimes you can't. We've got to go through the process now, get to work and evaluate everything with our football team, our staff, our organization, our system, our philosophy and try to improve it in every way that we can going into next season," McDaniels said.
The Chiefs built a 30-24 margin on Ryan Succop's 47-yard field goal with 12:57 remaining in the fourth.
Denver was at the KC 40 when Johnson picked off Orton and went the other way for his second TD of the day, giving Kansas City a 37-24 lead with 9:52 to go.
Following a Broncos punt, Charles sealed the contest with a dazzling 56-yard TD run. On the third play of the drive, Charles took the handoff and went right before cutting back to the middle. He found an opening and broke multiple tackles during a sprint to the end zone for a 44-24 lead with 6:25 left.
Mike Cox's one-yard TD run on the Chiefs' opening possession of the game gave Kansas City the early edge. The four-play, 86-yard drive was highlighted by Terrance Copper's 50-yard catch.
The Chiefs drove into Denver territory late in the first quarter, but Tim Castille threw an interception during a trick play.
Denver capitalized with a 10-play, 95-yard march that bridged the first and second periods. Moreno ended the drive with a one-yard touchdown run to deadlock the tilt at seven with 14:07 left until halftime.
A Succop 20-yard field goal and Matt Prater 25-yarder made it a 10-10 contest at the break.
Kansas City marched down the field and scored a TD on the opening drive of the third to go back in front. Charles' five-yard run capped the 10-play march to make it 17-10. However, Moreno's one-yard touchdown run on the ensuing Denver drive made it 17-17 with 8:25 remaining.
The Chiefs got a 36-yard Succop field goal on their next possession to take a 20-17 edge. On the first play of the Broncos drive, Johnson picked off Orton and sprinted 45 yards into the end zone for a 27-17 margin with 5:16 to go.
The Broncos had to punt on their next possession, but Ty Law put Denver in prime field position when he picked off Cassel and returned the ball to the KC three-yard line. Three plays later, Orton hooked up with Stokley for a three- yard score to cut the gap to 27-24 with 12 seconds left in the third.
The Chiefs had 317 rushing yards, compared to just 84 for Denver...Kansas City holds a 54-45 lead in its all-time series with Denver but was drilled by a 44-13 score when the teams met at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 13...The Chiefs had lost their previous eight trips in Denver since winning there in 2000.
01/03 21:53:28 ET