If ever there was a game that proved Pat Bowlen was right to bid farewell to Mike Shanahan after the end of last season in favor of some new blood, it was yesterday's Broncos-Chiefs matchup, when Josh McDaniels and company clearly experienced none of the "Oh, shit!" fears felt by fans early on.
That Kyle Orton pick in the end zone definitely stirred hear-we-go-again sensations -- the ones associated with the Broncos 1-15 record playing in KC in December. And so, too, did an agonizing Chiefs drive that ground on for twenty plays, masticating the majority of the first quarter in the process. A clock-eating running game and an ability to pick up third downs no matter how bad they'd done in the stat during the previous months of the season were big parts of the Chiefs' late-season dominance at Arrowhead over the years. Seemed like the Broncos were falling into that trap yet again.
But these Broncos didn't think so.
Kyle Orton didn't think so -- which is why he settled down and played smart ball the rest of the way.
Eddie Royal didn't think so -- which is why he continued to excel offensively and on special teams.
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Brian Dawkins didn't think so -- which is why he played like he was 26, not 36.
And neither did all those other new faces on the squad, to whom Kansas City was simply a mediocre squad ripe for the picking, as opposed to an inexplicable nemesis far more lethal than their three previous wins suggested.
Of course, the Chiefs' turnover generosity and general ineptitude gave the Broncos a big assist on their way to a 44-13 victory. But much of the credit belongs to McDaniels for shrugging off the ugly history -- and getting even carry-over players to do the same.
Granted, memories of past losses were a good thing in at least one respect. All those embarrassing losses made the sight of the stadium half-empty with ten minutes left to go in the fourth quarter just that much sweeter...