Peyton Manning threw a pair of touchdown passes Sunday night, and the Denver Broncos led the Kansas City Chiefs 20-7 at halftime in their AFC West showdown.
Manning capped an effortless 74-yard drive with a 23-yard third-down pass to Demaryius Thomas for his first touchdown. Then, after the Broncos forced a second straight three-and-out, Manning found C.J. Anderson on third down with a 15-yard touchdown strike.
Connor Barth, who was signed this week to replace Brandon McManus, added a pair of short field goals in the second quarter. The first of them came when Denver kept alive a drive with an audacious punt fake after their initial punt was called back by a penalty.
The Chiefs had minus-10 yards of first-quarter offense, but finally got on track early in the second quarter. Jamaal Charles converted fourth-and-1 with an 11-yard scamper, and Alex Smith hit tight end Anthony Fasano down the seam for a 20-yard touchdown pass.
Still, the Chiefs struggled to slow down Denver's suddenly balanced offense.
The unheralded Anderson, who ran for 167 yards last week against Miami, had 17 carries for 80 yards in the first half against Kansas City. Anderson got the start in place of Montee Ball, who's out with a groin injury, and Ronnie Hillman, who is sidelined with a foot injury.
The Broncos (8-3) entered the game with a half-game lead over San Diego (8-4) in the crowded AFC West. The Chiefs (7-4) needed a victory to forge a three-way tie in the division.
Kansas City was dressed in all red uniforms at chilly Arrowhead Stadium to honor Eric Berry, their veteran safety. Berry was found to have a lump in his chest last week that is believed to be lymphoma. He is still undergoing tests at Emory University in Atlanta.
Berry has professed his love for the red-on-red look, which Kansas City wore for the first time last year against Dallas and broke out again earlier this season against New England.
When he first learned of his illness, Berry initially asked coach Andy Reid if he would be able to play against Denver. The Chiefs' porous defense sure could have used him Sunday night as they tried to end a five-game losing streak against their longtime rivals.
The crowd, bundled up against the cold, booed as the Chiefs headed to the locker room at halftime. They ran a total of 16 plays on offense in the entire half.
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