KLEE: Manning's comeback with Broncos — one for the ages

By Paul Klee Updated: November 25, 2012 at 12:00 am • Published: November 25, 2012

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Peyton Manning’s suit made sense.

Light charcoal and just kind of there, his wardrobe fit the occasion of Denver’s 17-9 win at Kansas City. Either his team had slipped past a division rival or Manning was on his way to manage a bank.

"I'm not sure you ever can play that perfect game, that ‘A’ game,” Manning said.

From what we’ve witnessed in his 11 games with the Broncos, that makes sense.

The perfectionist hasn’t been perfect; it only seems that way. But he’s been perfect for the Broncos.

The blah-fest that trudged forth at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday won’t make the cutting-room floor on Manning’s career highlight reel. It won’t even make the cutting room. But it makes sense Manning would show Denver a new way he can win.

This wasn’t Manning throwing for five touchdowns, like he did against the Chiefs in 2004, or even Manning throwing three touchdowns last week against the Chargers. Those games were flashier. After the San Diego win, he rocked a blue-plaid jacket that said as much.

This was Manning needing two critical passes to improve to 8-1 against the Chiefs.

One was a 30-yard touchdown to Demaryius Thomas, a gift that needed only a bow and a Christmas tree. The other was a 27-yard completion, floated again to Thomas, which set up the Broncos (8-3) for an insurance field goal in the fourth quarter.

Sometimes Manning wins by wearing down a defense over four quarters of precision quarterbacking. Other times he does it with one or two completions that crush the spirit of a defense that thought it had him stopped.

"He’s like a coach on the field,” Kansas City linebacker Justin Houston said.

Other things don’t make sense. That could include Matt Prater missing two field goals in one game; the Royal Gorge suspension bridge; that the term "mullet" wasn’t used in, of all decades, the ’80s; saying the best barbecue exists somewhere other than Kansas City.

But there is better football in 31 other cities, give or take Jacksonville. And it’s not as though the great sports fans of Kansas City can look forward to Royals spring training.

During one series in the third quarter, the Chiefs offered a sequence of perfect ineptitude: clipping (penalty), timeout (confusion), false start (penalty and confusion).

"I thought the quarterback (former Bronco Brady Quinn) managed the game, which we asked him to do," Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said.

Kansas City’s (1-10) best chance for Win No. 2 might be in Denver, actually, when the Broncos sit their starters to prepare for the playoffs.

The Broncos have won six straight largely without their ‘A’ game. The Chiefs haven’t scored a touchdown in more than 11 quarters. After witnessing both in person, that all makes sense.

“Everybody’s going to give us their best shot,” Knowshon Moreno said.

What else doesn’t make sense: The notion Super Bowl teams need a powerful running game with a go-to rusher. Unless it is Adrian Peterson, losing a quality running back isn’t as damaging as losing a quality offensive lineman.

No Willis (McGahee), no worries. Moreno’s 85 rushing yards did the trick. It makes sense that almost 105,000 fantasy teams on Yahoo! Sports added him to their roster.

The Broncos simply made him active on theirs.

“I give real credit to (Moreno) for being a professional,” Manning said.

What else doesn’t make sense? That anyone questioned Manning would do what he’s doing after four neck surgeries. Not one, but two, Hall of Fame quarterbacks bet their legacies he would.

If only John Elway had said it, perhaps it’s simply the Broncos brass telling ticket-buyers there's life after Tim Tebow.

If only Manning had said it, maybe it’s a proud superstar thinking he could make one last run at greatness.

“He’s the same guy (as he was in Indianapolis),” said Jacob Tamme, who caught 67 passes from Manning with the 2010 Colts and another touchdown Sunday. “He’s the same guy that continually improves and prepares like he always prepared. He’s working like he’s always worked. It’s fun.”

Now it all makes sense.

For the seventh time in 15 seasons, Manning needed only 11 games to pass for 3,000 yards. No one else has done that. His quarterback rating Sunday (90.5) was his lowest since Week 3, and he still passed for 275 yards and two touchdowns.

He's really good even when he's just OK (by Manning metrics).

His wardrobe is boring, his comeback anything but.

Denver sports columnist Paul Klee can be reached by email (paul.klee@gazette.com) or on Twitter (@Klee_Gazette).

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