The Chiefs went toe-to-toe on Sunday with the team that's widely considered the best in the conference, the defending AFC champion Denver Broncos.
Only two other times since 2012 has Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning been held to less than 242 yards passing, and that was September 17, 2012 against the Atlanta Falcons (241), and then last year against the New England Patriots on November 24 (150).
Manning finished 21 of 26 for 242 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday, which isn't shutting him down by any means.
But the Chiefs defense allowed just 3 of 8 conversions on third down, and only four times last season did a defense have a better conversion rate against the Broncos offense than the Chiefs did on Sunday.
"I thought our defense played well," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after the game. "Anytime you can hold Peyton (Manning) 3 for 8 on third downs I think that's a plus.
"I appreciated the effort by the guys," Reid said. "We're not by any means in the business of moral victories. We don't even think that way, but there was great effort there. That can take you a long way and you're in a game like this, we can learn from this."
Chiefs Pro Bowl outside linebacker Justin Houston said the team will use Sunday as a learning experience.
"You just got to put it behind you and use it as motivation to get better and move forward," Houston said. "You just have to have heart and never quit. Keep playing. It's a long season—this is just the first two games. We can't let them beat us next week."
The Chiefs lost running back Jamaal Charles and safety Eric Berry in this game due to ankle injuries, and they were already dealing with key losses to linebacker Derrick Johnson, defensive end Mike DeVito and offensive lineman Jeff Allen.
But since arriving in Kansas City, coach Reid has preached the "next man up" philosophy with any injury to any player, regardless of standing on the team.
"We have a few injuries, but we don't slow down on that," Reid said. "We know that we have some good football players that are playing behind them. (John) Dorsey and his crew have worked endless hours bringing in good football players and so they're getting an opportunity to play.
View photos from the Chiefs week two match up against the Denver Broncos.
"Football's a joint effort. It's a team sport. Everybody needs to step up and do their job just a little bit better, coaches included. We all need to do our job better."
One player who stepped in for the injured Berry at safety was Ron Parker, who moved over from cornerback to play deep at safety, a position he played back in college.
"It's a little different because everything kind of slows down," Parker said after the game about the difference between cornerback and safety. "In that corner over there, you're on the outside, everything moves kind of fast. You have to try to guard everything. But back at safety, you have to sit back there and see how it plays out before you really make your move so it slows down a little."
Offensively, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith finished 26 of 42 for 255 yards, but most importantly, had zero interceptions, bouncing back after a rough season opener against the Titans.
"We competed much better as a team than we did a week ago," Smith said. "I thought on offense, we put ourselves in better third downs. We stayed balanced the whole game and even though we were behind there, stayed balanced. You sustain drives—you keep their offense off the field so I think there are some things to take away from it."
Smith and the Chiefs offense did a great job of keeping Manning off the field. They converted 11 of 16 third-down attempts, including 7 of 9 in the second half, which is a major improvement considering they were 1 of 12 against the Titans in Week 1.
The Chiefs offense also did a great job of controlling the clock. In the second half, the Broncos had the ball for just 9:06 total, picking up just three points.
Tight end Travis Kelce led the Chiefs with four catches for 81 yards, with three of those catches being converted third downs of at least eight yards to go.
Smith talked about Kelce after the game.
"He's got the speed and he's got that wiggle that you look for," Smith said. "There was one third down that I had a chance to go to him. I ended up going to Donnie (Avery) and we converted. But, I looked at the scoreboard and had him. He's kind of got some wiggle to him. Even when he's matched up on a corner, I think he's got that kind of ability."
While the positive things that can be taken away from this game don't change the fact that it goes down as a loss in the records books, the Chiefs team likely leaves with the mindset that they can beat anyone, anywhere or anytime.
They showed on Sunday that they're good enough, injuries and all, to compete with the class of the AFC in their house and take it all the way down to the wire.
It's not a moral victory as much as it is a statement to everyone outside of that locker room that didn't have the same mindset as those inside of it—this team will fight and compete and they're going to continue to get better.
Best offensive play
This play has to be Anthony Fasano's circus catch early in the fourth quarter.
It was third-and-two from the Denver 47-yard line when Fasano made this catch, and it set up running back Knile Davis' second touchdown of the day—bringing the Chiefs within a possession at 21-17.
Best defensive play
The Chiefs only got to Manning one time in the game, and that was on a Tamba Hali sack in the third quarter. Any time you can bring down Manning—it's the play of the game.
Reviewing "**Five Things to Watch**"
1. Getting Jamaal Charles involved
Well, that didn't happen because he left the game with an injured ankle early in the first quarter. Charles finished the day with four yards on two carries, adding one reception of eight yards as well.
We'll know more about Charles' status throughout the week and we'll have you covered at KCChiefs.com.
2. Dwayne Bowe's return
Bowe had three catches for 40 yards and two of those catches were converted third downs. The other, which was a 22-yard gain on second-and-five late in the fourth quarter, set up the Chiefs four attempts inside the Broncos 10-yard line at the end of the game.
All three of Bowe's catches were in the second half.
3. Controlling the line of scrimmage
This didn't look like the same offensive line that went up against the Tennessee Titans.
While it wasn't perfect, the running game got going in the first half as the Chiefs had 107 yards rushing through two quarters, and that was without Jamaal Charles.
Also, Smith was sacked just twice, one of which came on the last play of the first half on a busted play.
Going up against defensive end DeMarcus Ware for the majority of the game, left tackle Eric Fisher had a solid day for the Chiefs.
4. Containing Julius Thomas
Thomas finished the game with four catches for 39 yards and one touchdown.
He got the Broncos on the board early as he caught a perfectly-placed ball from Manning in the corner of the end zone on safety Eric Berry, who had the play covered pretty well.
It was just a great throw, but all in all, Thomas had a relatively quiet day compared to his breakout game last week against the Colts, against whom he had seven catches for 104 yards and three touchdowns.
5. Broncos offensive timing
Manning and the Broncos offense moved the ball well during times in this game, but the Chiefs defense played well enough to win this game.
Cornerback Marcus Cooper, who struggled at times, like with the deep pass to Emmanuel Sanders to start the game and an interference penalty in the second half, also had a couple of really nice pass breakups.