DENVER — The Denver Broncos corralled the NFL's top rushing team, doing their best imitation of the Kansas City Chiefs in a rout of the AFC West leaders.
Kyle Orton threw a career-high four touchdown passes and Knowshon Moreno had his first 100-yard rushing performance as the Broncos won 49-29 on Sunday in their highest-scoring game in 47 years.
The only time the Broncos scored more was in 1963, when they put up 50 on the San Diego Chargers.
Moreno ran for 106 yards on 22 carries and caught three passes for 50 yards and a TD as the Broncos (3-6) snapped a four-game skid and kept alive their thin hopes of getting back into the playoff race by handing the Chiefs (5-4) their second straight loss.
The Broncos stuffed the Chiefs' vaunted ground game by jumping out to a 35-0 lead behind a trio of touchdown passes from Orton, a 1-yard run by Tim Tebow and a 75-yard fumble return for a TD by linebacker Jason Hunter.
Tebow also threw his first NFL pass, a 3-yard TD toss to fullback Spencer Larsen.
Ahead 35-10 at halftime, the Broncos kept the Chiefs from turning to their two-headed monster of a ground game as Jamaal Charles was held to 41 yards and Thomas Jones managed just 3. The Chiefs entered averaging 180 yards rushing, 113 more than Denver, which ranked last in the league. On this day, the Broncos rushed for 153 yards and the Chiefs 51.
The Broncos benefited from their bye week to get several starters back from injuries, including right tackle Ryan Harris (ankle), whose return allowed rookie Zane Beadles to go back to left guard, finally giving Denver the offensive line it envisioned in training camp.
The Broncos controlled the clock and the game thanks to a fast, efficient start that stunned both the Chiefs and the crowd that was dotted by thousands of empty seats in the first game at Invesco Field since Oakland's 45-point shellacking of Denver three weeks ago.
During the week, John Elway dropped by to give the Broncos a pep talk.
Orton, who spent the bye week nursing a sore shoulder courtesy of San Francisco linebacker Manny Lawson, took advantage of Denver's big lead to stay upright for a change and also capitalized on the absence of safeties Kendrick Lewis and Jon McGraw to pick apart the Chiefs for 296 yards.
Orton didn't throw any interceptions and wasn't sacked.
Shut out in the first quarter of every game since Sept. 19, the Broncos exploded for three first-quarter touchdowns as Orton hit Moreno from 17 yards out, Brandon Lloyd with a 6-yard strike and Jabar Gaffney with a 40-yard heave.
His 15-yard TD toss to Lloyd in the fourth quarter made it 49-17.
The Broncos sat star linebacker D.J. Williams for the first defensive series after his arrest early Friday on suspicion of drunken driving, his second such arrest since 2005 and one that subjects him to a multigame suspension by the NFL.
Williams, who also was stripped of his captaincy and fined, was replaced by Wesley Woodyard.
Mario Haggan, who had four career sacks in his eight NFL seasons, collected three sacks in the first half. He stripped the ball from Cassel on his third one, and Hunter scooped it up for the long TD.Comment on this story
The Chiefs finally got on the scoreboard on a 5-yard TD catch by Charles, but the all-out blitz had Cassel limping to the bench afterward, where trainers tended to his left ankle.
Cassel stayed in and would finish with a career-high 469 yards on 33-of-53 passing. Dwayne Bowe caught two TD passes, reaching the end zone for a team record-tying fifth straight game. He finished with a career-high 13 catches for 186 yards.
The Broncos could have gone for their team record by trying a field goal at the 2-minute warning but went for it instead of fourth-and-4 from the Chiefs 32 and turned the ball over on downs, and the Chiefs went down and scored.