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12/01/2013 9:28 PM EST
Manning, Decker lead Broncos past Chiefs 35-28
DENVER 35, KANSAS CITY 28

By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- In the words of Chiefs safety Eric
Berry, Peyton Manning does not discriminate.

If you're playing wide receiver for the Denver Broncos, and you
manage to get yourself open, you can bet that Manning is going
to find a way to get you the ball.

On Sunday, he rewarded Eric Decker all afternoon.

Manning threw for 403 yards and five touchdowns, four of them to
Decker, and the Broncos held off a rally to beat the Chiefs
35-28 and seize control of the AFC West.

"I think he showed people why he's so great," Decker said. "How
we run our offense, we're very versatile as far as going inside,
outside, left, right, whatever it may be. Fortunately I had some
play calls and took advantage of the opportunities I got."

Decker had eight catches for a career-high 174 yards for the
Broncos (10-2), who moved a game clear of the Chiefs (9-3) in
the division.

With four games left, Denver also holds the tiebreaker by virtue
two wins over Kansas City in the past three weeks. The Broncos
have the AFC's best record.

"It was a great, gritty effort on the road," said interim coach
Jack Del Rio, who led Denver to a 3-1 mark while John Fox was
recovering from heart surgery. Fox is due back Monday.

"We figured they would have some type of surge early and I loved
the way our guys responded," Del Rio said. "It puts us in first
place and now we'll go welcome Coach Fox back."

The Chiefs jumped out to a 21-7 lead, but the Broncos answered
with 28 points. Jamaal Charles scored from a yard out with 6:32
left to get Kansas City within a touchdown, and then the Chiefs
forced a punt with 3:32 remaining to get the ball back.

Three long passes moved the Chiefs downfield, but Alex Smith's
pass to Dwayne Bowe in the end zone on fourth-and-4 with 1:45
left fell incomplete, allowing the Broncos to run out the clock.

"Hard-fought game," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "Two good
football teams playing each other, and it came right down to the
end."

Smith threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns for Kansas City,
while Knile Davis returned a kickoff 108 yards for another
score. Charles finished with 93 yards rushing.

Denver won despite missing a slew of injured players, including
three starters on defense and tight end Julius Thomas, who has
developed into one of Manning's favorite red-zone options.

No need to worry. Decker more than shouldered the burden.

The fourth-year pro caught a 41-yard touchdown pass in the first
quarter, two more TD passes in the third and a short fade for a
score in the fourth quarter.

Most of the time, Decker was going against Chiefs defensive back
Marcus Cooper, an undrafted free agent who'd become a starter.

Manning has 41 TD passes, breaking his franchise record of 37
set last season.

"Sometimes, when you play a team close to back-to-back, there
are some ideas that are fresh in your mind," Manning said. "We
thought there were some chances to get down the field in that
first game that we never got to. We wanted to get to some of
those plays."

The Chiefs, who lost for the third straight week, squandered far
too many chances, including one right out of the gate when Smith
was picked off by Wesley Woodyard in the end zone.

Still, Kansas City seemed to have more energy in the first half.

The Chiefs took the lead when Smith hit Junior Hemingway for a
touchdown. And after Decker beat Brandon Flowers for a tying
score, Davis took the ensuing kickoff 108 yards the other
direction.

It was the longest return in franchise history, and the first TD
return by a Chiefs player since Jamaal Charles took a kickoff
back against the Steelers during the 2009 season.

Smith's touchdown pass to Anthony Fasano made it 21-7.

That's went Denver scored 28 unanswered points.

Manning hit Knowshon Moreno for a short TD just before halftime,
and then hit Decker with two more touchdown passes in the third
quarter. Decker's fade catch for a TD made it 35-21 early in the
fourth, and that turned out to be all the points the Broncos
needed.

"Losses are the nature of the game," Smith said. "Earlier in the
year we were coming out the other end of it. We just have to
continue to fight. I think this team has that kind of character.
We still have everything we want in front of us."

Notes: Chiefs TE Anthony Fasano (concussion) and LT Branden
Albert (knee sprain) left the game and did not return. ...
Charles became the first Chiefs RB with four 1,000-yard rushing
season. ... It was Decker's sixth career 100-yard game. ...
Denver has won 10 straight vs AFC West. ... Manning went over
4,000 yards passing for the 13th time.

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