"A loss is a loss."
That was the prevailing theme from the Kansas City Chiefs locker room after the game.
It'd be easy to see a "moral victory" in this performance, especially after the way the Chiefs played in their regular season opener against the Tennessee Titans, but that's not something a team with high expectations says after a loss.
"We're not in the business of moral victories," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after the game. "We don't even think that way, but there was great effort there."
The Chiefs were missing seven projected starters in this game from what they had planned coming into this season. The two inside linebackers—Derrick Johnson (Achilles) and Joe Mays (wrist), defensive lineman Mike DeVito (Achilles), offensive linemen Jeff Allen (elbow) and Donald Stephenson (suspension), and then running back Jamaal Charles and safety Eric Berry both left the game early with sprained ankles.
But just as the Chiefs unfortunately had to routinely use the phrase "next man up" after last week's loss, the team uttered that same phrase after losing two key players today in Charles and Berry.
After running back Jamaal Charles left the game in the first quarter with a sprained ankle, and gaining just four yards on two carries, second-year player Knile Davis took the lion's share of the carries for the rest of the day.
Davis finished the game with 22 carries for 79 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, also adding a team-high six receptions for 26 yards.
"It's just the sport we play," Davis said. "Around the league, a lot of guys go down and you have to be ready to step up."
Davis went on to explain the team's mindset after the game.
"Everybody felt like we could win," Davis said. "Nobody had a losing mentality. Everybody played with heart and if you play like that, you can move mountains."
The Chiefs had two opportunities in the second half with the ball inside the Broncos 5-yard line, and both times the Chiefs walked away without points.
Trailing 21-10 at halftime, the Chiefs offense took control in the opening drive of the second half.
The 19-play drive spanned over 10 minutes and had the Chiefs all the way down to the Broncos 4-yard line. But a sack, followed by a holding a penalty, forced the Chiefs into a 37-yard field goal attempt, which was missed by rookie kicker Cairo Santos.
View photos from the Chiefs week two match up against the Denver Broncos.
A promising drive that included five third-down conversions, including three of 11 yards or more, ended without anything to show for the Chiefs.
After holding the Broncos high-powered offense to just three points in the second half, the Chiefs offense had another opportunity late in the game to tie it.
With 3:27 left in the game, the Chiefs had the ball at their own 34-yard line and trailed by seven points. They needed 66 yards to tie the game.
Alex Smith led the Chiefs all the way down to a first-and-goal from the 9-yard line with under two minutes to play.
They managed to get to the 2-yard line on third down and had two chances to get the touchdown and ultimately tie the game. The third down attempt was a run from Knile Davis that was stuffed at the line of scrimmage, and the fourth down pass attempt was batted down before Dwayne Bowe had an opportunity to make a play.
Quarterback Alex Smith finished the game 26 of 42 for 255 yards.
"It was an intense, physical game," Smith said in the locker room after the game. "It's what you expect out of a division rivalry like this. It came down to the wire.
"You take a look at the tape and you come up on the 2 (yard line), two yards short. It's frustrating, tough to swallow. But I thought that our guys competed all night. It's a good football team at home and I thought we competed to the end."
Chiefs defensive lineman Dontari Poe pretty much summed it all up after the game.
"A loss is a loss," Poe explained. "There's really nothing too good coming from it but at the same time, we have a lot of film to watch and to get better from—a lot of stuff to keep doing better and I think we'll be all right."
DEFENSE CONTAINS HIGH-POWERED DENVER OFFENSE: The Kansas City defense held Denver to 325 total yards of offense – 237 yards passing and 88 yards rushing – and 24 points in the game. Both totals are the lowest regular season marks for the Broncos since they put up 295 yards and only 20 points in a 27-20 loss vs. San Diego on December 12, 2013.
SPREADING THE BALL AROUND:Nine Kansas City Chiefs players recorded receptions in today's game. Six players recorded at least three receptions each – Davis (6), Kelce (4), Bowe (3), Fasano (3), Jenkins (3) and Avery (3).
TIME OF POSSESSION AND OFFENSIVE PLAYS:Kansas City held a 36:14 to 23:46 advantage in time of possession in the contest. The Chiefs offense ran a total of 75 plays while the Denver offense had only 46 plays in the game.
DAVIS RECORDS PAIR OF SCORES:RB Knile Davis rushed 22 times for 79 yards (3.6 avg.) in today's game, including two rushing touchdowns. Davis has six career regular season rushing touchdowns. Today's contest marked his second-career game with multiple rushing touchdowns. The first came at San Diego (12/29/13). He added a team-high six receptions for 26 yards (4.3 avg.) in the game.
HALI DROPS MANNING:LB Tamba Hali sacked QB Peyton Manning for a five-yard loss for his first sack of the 2014 season. Hali now owns 74.5 sacks (-478.0 yards) in his career to rank third in team history behind DE Neil Smith (86.5) and LB Derrick Thomas (126.5).
CHIEFS RECORD BOOK
MOST SACKS, CAREER
|5.||51.0||Mike Bell||1979-85, '87-91|
Hali's 478.0 sack yards also rank third in team history behind Smith (506.5) and Thomas (699.0).