Broncos to Face a Different Chiefs Team
Wednesday, November 22nd 2006, 6:29 am
By: News On 6
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ The first time Denver and Kansas City met this season, the final score seemed more like a baseball score than one fitting of these ancient rivals.
The Broncos finally prevailed 9-6 in overtime in the lowest-scoring affair in the 93 games these teams rivals from AFL days have played. Winless after their season openers, both teams were tentative all day long, seemingly unsure of what their offensive identify might be.
The Chiefs managed only two field goals in their first game in five years without Trent Green at quarterback. He was back home beginning a long rehab from a severe concussion sustained the week before, and backup Damon Huard, mostly unknown even to Chiefs coaches, was under center.
First-year head coach Herm Edwards was careful not to ask him to do too much.
Denver was also in a conservative frame of mind, coming off a season-opening loss at St. Louis where the Broncos committed five turnovers. Jake Plummer, who'd thrown three interceptions, seemed to have as short a leash as Huard's.
But now as they prepare for the rematch Thursday night in the first game ever telecast on the NFL Network, a great deal seems different, and nine points may not get the halftime lead.
Green is back and how _ engineering a fourth-quarter game-winning drive against Oakland last week and showing no rust from his 10-week layoff.
Plummer is still making mistakes, but the Broncos are scoring. They blew a a 17-point lead at home last week in a 35-27 loss to San Diego that lifted the Chargers (8-2) one game over Denver (7-3) and two ahead of KC (6-4) in the AFC West.
Nobody is predicting another baseball-like score in the final leg of the NFL's historic first Thanksgiving tripleheader.
``When we played them in Denver, we were still in shock over losing Trent,'' said wide receiver/kick returner Dante Hall. ``It was the second game of the year and it's always hard going into Denver. We hadn't won. We were still getting a feel for our new coach, getting a feel for what we were going to be on offense and on defense.
``Now we know what kind of team we are. We know what to expect from Herm. There's no more feeling and guessing and trying to figure things out. We know exactly how to go about our business.''
One of the Chiefs' biggest improvements has been on defense, although that may depend in part on whether linebacker Derrick Johnson is able to get back from the ankle injury that's sidelined him the last two games.
``They're playing better,'' said Plummer. ``They're not giving up as many points. When you're doing that with the offense they have, that can translate into some wins. It's a defense that we did get a win against earlier in the year. We struggled a little bit. They shut us out in the first half. We know we've got to go in there and let it all hang out and dictate to them what we're going to do, not just let them play and adjust to them. We need to make them play to our game.''
Edwards agreed that the scoring will probably pick up considerably.
``I don't think nine will be enough,'' he said.
The Chiefs got good news from the training room and said Pro Bowl left guard Brian Waters was probably coming back from the knee injury that has sidelined him two games. Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez also was hopeful to return from the shoulder injury that kept him out last week against Oakland.
But while the Chiefs were getting good news on the injury front, the Broncos learned that strong safety Nick Ferguson would be gone for the rest of the year with season-ending knee surgery.
``He was really hoping he could play with it, but the doctors said there's no way,'' coach Mike Shanahan said. ``It was almost completely torn.''
The Chiefs have been selling standing-room only tickets all week and expect noisy Arrowhead Stadium to be packed with almost 80,000 fans.
For the league to let Kansas City have the game seems to be an honor for owner Lamar Hunt, who's been arguing for years that it's unfair for only Detroit and Dallas host Thanksgiving games.
``Without question, this is a salute to Lamar Hunt for all he's done for the NFL,'' said Chiefs president Carl Peterson.