KANSAS CITY, Mo. – 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 fell incomplete.