Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning turned back the clock and pushed the narrative about his career demise off the table Thursday night with an improbable come-from-behind 31-24 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
It was a game that was wasn’t decided until Bradley Roby returned a Chiefs fumble for a score with 27 seconds remaining.
When the Broncos said their offense was a “work in progress,” it’s not clear whether they meant they would make that progress in the heat-of-game moments. But that’s exactly what the Broncos did Thursday night. From the moment quarterback Peyton Manning had his second interception of the season returned for a touchdown — 55 yards by Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters with 6 minutes, 27 seconds remaining in the first half — the Broncos essentially tossed aside, at least for one prime-time night in an old-school AFC West scrap, the idea they would give the offense an extensive makeover.
Because what the Broncos ran for the remainder of the game looked, on the surface, a lot like what Manning has done in this first three seasons with the team.Peyton Manning became the second quarterback to reach 70,000 passing yards as the Broncos topped the Chiefs with a furious rally Thursday.And after Peters’ interception gave the Chiefs a 14-0 lead, Manning spent much of the remainder of the night in the shotgun, with three wide receivers in the formation, working the short and intermediate routes between the numbers.
For the night, Manning finished 26-of-45 for 256 yards to go with three touchdowns. He also became just the second quarterback in league history to pass 70,000 career passing yards, joining Brett Favre.
But the result of the decision to turn back the clock, to 2014 or so, was with another high-quality effort on defense. The Broncos erased the Chiefs’ lead just before halftime, tying the score 14-14 with less than a minute before the break. The Broncos kept to that approach for much of the second half, choosing to leave Manning in his comfort zone.
It’s something coach Gary Kubiak had not ever ruled out, even as the Broncos continue to hope to crank up their run game and add the play-action element to the offense. But Kubiak has said the Broncos would pick their spots along the way to let Manning “do those things he’s done better than anybody else in an offense.”
The Broncos decided Thursday was one of those times.