Column: Chiefs lose but can still learn from it

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And any time Manning _ who showed decent mobility on his heavily taped ankles _ gets through a game barely being touched, it’s a good night.

“To go sackless against the leading sack defense in the NFL, that’s a great testament to those guys,” Manning said.

The Broncos, though, always figured to be good this season. The Chiefs were another matter.

After 14 seasons in Philadelphia, Reid has turned things around quickly in Kansas City, thanks largely to a hard-nosed defense and an early schedule of patsies.

Still, even as the wins kept piling up it was hard to find many in football predicting the Chiefs would go deep in the playoffs.

The non-believers included the sharp guys in Vegas, who thought so little of the Chiefs that they were eight-point underdogs against Denver. It was the first time in recent memory that a team unbeaten so late in the season was not favored to continue its winning ways.

Denver will almost surely be favored in the rematch, too, though the Broncos have other business to take care of first in a hotly anticipated game next Sunday in New England. It will be Manning against Tom Brady once again in a game that could serve as a preview to a Super Bowl eliminator in January.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, return home to face San Diego, and they do it for the first time with a blemished record.

“As great as it is to win, it’s that lousy to lose,” Smith said. “(But) it’s good in some ways. Good teams gotta find a way to deal with it. How many teams have ever gone undefeated, two in the history of football?”

The Chiefs weren’t going to be No. 3, even if they had somehow found a way to beat Denver. No one was confusing them with the 1972 Dolphins or the 2007 New England team that was perfect until the Super Bowl.

They’re a good solid team that couldn’t win largely because the quarterback of the other team is named Peyton Manning.

And no one should be embarrassed about that.

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Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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