DENVER (AP) — Bradley Roby is expecting a lot more action in Denver’s rematch with Kansas City, although it’ll be hard for the second-year cornerback to top what he did when the Broncos beat the Chiefs back in September.
Roby’s scoop-and-score of Jamaal Charles’ fumble with 27 seconds left capped a two-TD spurt in the final minute and gave the Broncos a stunning 31-24 win.
It propelled Denver to a 7-1 mark at the halfway point and sent the Chiefs (3-5) on a five-week freefall they finally halted with back-to-back wins over Pittsburgh and Detroit.
“I actually haven’t gone back and watched it yet, but I don’t even worry about that play,” Roby said. “I really didn’t do much anyway.”
True, he had no tackles in 31 snaps. But after Peyton Manning capped an 80-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown toss to Emmanuel Sanders with 36 seconds left to tie it, Alex Smith handed off to Charles, who held the ball loosely. Linebacker Brandon Marshall poked the ball free and Roby scooped it up and trotted 21 yards into the end zone.
Roby will start against the Chiefs on Sunday in place of Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib, who was suspended for poking Colts tight end Dwayne Allen in the eye last week.
“I ended the game as the bad guy the first time around,” Roby said. “So, I’m sure they’ll try to get me back.”
The Broncos also will be without pass rusher DeMarcus Ware, who aggravated a bad back last week. He’ll be replaced by Shaq Barrett, and first-round draft pick Shane Ray could be back from a sprained right knee that’s sidelined him for a month.
Behind Roby, Kayvon Webster will get more playing time in Talib’s absence.
“Yeah, it’s definitely going to test our depth but I think that our depth has been tested before. Shaq has stepped in before. Roby, Kayvon, those guys are proven guys,” Marshall said.
Talib is a big part of the reason Denver owns the NFL’s top defense, so he’ll definitely be missed.
“Oh it’s huge,” Marshall said. “The guy’s playing at an All-Pro level. He’s one of the best corners in the league. He’s a smart player, he’s a leader on the defense. ... Roby, Kayvon, those guys are going to have to step up, just like Shaq’s going to have to step up.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid isn’t breathing a sigh of relief over the loss of two of Denver’s Pro Bowlers.
“They still have a pretty good defense,” he said. “I don’t know who’s going to be there and who’s not. I know that the corner is down, but they have a lot of good players there.”
Other things to keep an eye on, so to speak, when the Broncos go for their eighth straight win over Kansas City:
Manning was all set for a dramatic finish in Indy last weekend but he never got back into the game after throwing his second interception — and league-leading 13th overall — with six minutes to go.
So he left his old stomping grounds stuck at 71,836 career passing yards, two shy of Brett Favre’s NFL career record, and still tied with Favre with 186 regular-season wins for a quarterback.
The Broncos lead the league in several defensive categories, but here’s one they’re not proud of: an NFL-high 16 personal fouls — plus one on special teams for interfering with a fair catch.
A penchant for penalties has been a season-long problem for Denver and it finally cost the Broncos more than a flag or a fine last week. They’ve also been flagged more than a few times when they didn’t feel they crossed the line.
“I told the players that you’re not going to get the benefit of the doubt sometimes ... because you start to get reputations in this league,” coach Gary Kubiak said. “It’s something that we have to change. I know one thing, I don’t want to lose the way that we’re playing defense ... but I do definitely want to correct and cut down on the penalties.”
Charles is out for the year with a torn ACL, but second-year running back Charcandrick West is filling in nicely. He leads the AFC over the last three weeks with a 103.5-yard average. West credits Charles: “He’s the main reason I’m having the little success that I’m having right now,” West said.
The Broncos have won seven straight over the Chiefs since a 7-3 loss in 2011. Another Denver win would tie the Broncos’ best winning streak in the series, set between 1976-79.
“I don’t know if there’s room for any extra” motivation, Smith said. “It’s always been huge, it’s a division game and these division games are huge with where we’re at. We kind of dug ourselves a hole; it’s even bigger for us.”
Home sweet home
The Broncos have won 11 consecutive regular-season games at home. That’s the longest active streak in the AFC. Only Green Bay’s 12-game home winning streak is longer.
KANSAS CITY (3-5)
at DENVER (7-1)
Sunday, 3:25 p.m., CBS
OPENING LINE - Broncos by 7
RECORD VS. SPREAD - Chiefs 3-5, Broncos 5-3
SERIES RECORD - Chiefs lead 56-55
LAST MEETING - Broncos beat Chiefs 31-24, Sept. 17, 2015
LAST WEEK - Chiefs had bye, beat Lions 45-10 on Nov. 1; Broncos lost to Colts 27-24
AP PRO32 RANKING - Chiefs No. 19, Broncos No. 4.
CHIEFS OFFENSE - OVERALL (23), RUSH (12), PASS (22).
CHIEFS DEFENSE - OVERALL (17), RUSH (11), PASS (22).
BRONCOS OFFENSE - OVERALL (22), RUSH (28), PASS (12).
BRONCOS DEFENSE - OVERALL (1), RUSH (5), PASS (1).
STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES - Kansas City allowed two TDs in 9-second span during 31-24 loss to Broncos in Week 2, including Bradley Roby’s 21-yard fumble return with 27 seconds remaining. ... In six career games against Denver, QB Alex Smith has thrown seven TDs and five interceptions. ... LB Justin Houston has 50 career tackles against Broncos. ... Coach Andy Reid is 14-2 following team’s bye week. ... TE Travis Kelce has 1,400 yards receiving since 2014, third most behind New England’s Rob Gronkowski (1,817) and Carolina’s Greg Olsen (1,592) for the position. ... Denver has won 11 straight regular-season home games. ... QB Peyton Manning is one win away from passing Brett Favre as NFL’s all-time winningest QB. ... Manning needs 3 yards to pass Favre’s mark of 71,838 yards passing. ... Denver leads league in total defense (274.1 yards per game), scoring defense (17.4), sacks (30), and forced fumbles (12). ... Broncos are 22-4 in divisional play since 2011. ... Broncos looking for eighth straight win over Chiefs. ... LB Von Miller has four sacks. He’s trying to join Lyle Alzado (1971-75) and Elvis Dumervil (2006-11) as only Broncos to have at least five sacks in each of first five NFL seasons. ... Fantasy tip: Consider picking up Owen Daniels now Broncos are utilizing tight end more. Daniels had six catches for 102 yards and score last weekend. Vernon Davis figures to be integral part of offense as he develops rapport with Manning.