Sunday night’s AFC West showdown between the Broncos and Chiefs had just about everything. It went from boring to epic to heartbreaker – at least for the Broncos, who lost 30-27 in overtime.
“That’s exactly what it was,” Super Bowl 50 champion Tyler Polumbus said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “When you think of a Chiefs/Broncos matchup, it’s not exactly offensive fireworks. Going into that first half, it turned out to be exactly what everybody predicted. It was a very slow, boring football game. Defense was playing well on both sides of the football. Then all of a sudden, the game took a total turn and it became one of the best games I’ve seen all year. What a heartbreaker for the Broncos.”
The Broncos overcame an early 9-0 deficit and led 24-16 with three minutes to go in regulation. Alex Smith, however, marched the Chiefs 75 yards in 13 plays and connected with Demetrius Harris for the game-tying two-point conversion to force overtime.
“They’ve been living and dying off their defense of the last two years,” Polumbus said of the Broncos. “They’ve won a lot of football games for that ball club when the offense hasn’t performed well, and the offense has been really struggling all year for the Broncos, and they had a decent night tonight. The defense had a chance to win the football game (but) didn’t get it done.”
Smith finished 26-of-44 for 220 yards and one touchdown.
“He’s not the most exciting quarterback in the NFL,” Polumbus said, “but if you give this guy a chance to march up and down the field with short passes, the guy’s a surgeon – and that’s what he did. He dink-and-dunked his way down the field, and the Broncos didn’t have an answer for it. When they’re playing that prevent defense, it creates a lot of soft spots and Alex Smith took advantage of it.”
It didn’t help that the Broncos were penalized a season-high 15 times Sunday night.
“It’s on the players,” Polumbus said. “The players are the ones that are out there executing and when penalties happen, that’s on the players. I don’t think it’s lack of discipline per se, but it was certainly disappointing when you get that many penalties. It’ll crush you. You’ll lose football games like that. But the penalties weren’t necessarily selfish penalties. They weren’t personal fouls or anything like that. Sometimes high-penalty games like that happen. I don’t necessarily think it was a lack of discipline, though.”
Despite losing the lead and committing numerous penalties, Denver still had a chance to win the game. Gary Kubiak elected to let Brandon McManus attempt a 62-yard field goal in the final minutes of overtime. McManus missed. In hindsight, should Kubiak have punted and pinned the Chiefs near their goal line?
Polumbus said no.
“I loved the call,” he said. “I know Brandon McManus. I’ve played with him. I’ve sen him hit that kick a million times. I’ve seen him hit it from beyond 70 yards. And yes, we’re talking about practice situations and not game situations, but you go off of what your guy does in practice, and Brandon McManus will hit that kick more times than not. So you’ve got a chance to win a football game in overtime. You’ve got a chance to finish the game off. You give your guy a chance to go get it. Otherwise if you punt that ball, you’re literally playing to tie a football game. I don’t know any head coach that plays for a tie. They play to win a football game. I think there would have been a bunch of disappointed players on the team had he punted that ball. It just doesn’t send the right message to your guys. It doesn’t send the message that you’re trying to win football games, so I thought it was the right call. Unfortunately it came back to bite him. Brandon did not have a good kick. He shanked that thing. But if I was in the same situation next week, I’d give Brandon the chance to kick it again because I know the guy can.”
Denver (7-4) plays each of its next two games on the road, beginning with a Sunday matchup against Jacksonville (2-9). Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET.