KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Long before Sunday's game against the Chiefs, Denver quarterback Tim Tebow stood on the field at Arrowhead Stadium and zipped a series of short passes to his wide receivers.
One after another, as fast as the coaches could give him the ball.
Tebow must have known that was the most work his left arm would get all afternoon.
The former Heisman Trophy winner only threw eight passes against Kansas City, completing just two of them. But one wound up being a 56-yard touchdown toss to Eric Decker in the fourth quarter, which helped the resurgent Broncos to a 17-10 victory over their AFC West rival.
"Going into the game, I probably expected (to throw more)," said Tebow, who was going up against a weak pass defense that has played most of the year without injured safety Eric Berry.
"We had some good things going with the running game, and back and forth with different backs," Tebow said. "I'm a football player first, before quarterback. Whatever we can to do win games."
Denver has been winning quite a bit since Tebow took over.
After scrapping much of a pass-happy offense they used when Kyle Orton was at the helm, the Broncos have rattled off wins in three of their past four games with a run-first, option-style offense that gave Kansas City fits. Even after losing Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno to injuries, Denver had enough on the ground to churn out a critical victory.
The Broncos (4-5) moved into a tie with Kansas City and San Diego, one game back of division-leading Oakland, heading into Thursday night's game against the New York Jets.
"The statistic that is most important is winning," Denver coach John Fox said. "This game is only fun when you win."
Fox said that McGahee, who hurt his hamstring on the opening series, could have returned to the game in an emergency situation. Moreno was ruled out with a sprained knee after a carry later in the first quarter. It's unclear whether either will be available against New York.
The Broncos didn't need them with Tebow running the show Sunday.
He was just 2 of 8 for 69 yards, but also ran for a touchdown and calmly led an offense that churned out 244 yards on the ground. Lance Ball had 30 carries for 96 yards.
"It felt good," Ball said. "It didn't even feel like 30 carries. I just kept plugging, trusted my guys, trusted my O-line, and we popped a couple when we needed it. That felt great."
Things didn't feel so good on the Kansas City sideline.
Matt Cassel was 13 of 28 for 93 yards and a touchdown, and the Chiefs only managed 258 yards of total offense, a performance every bit as ugly as last week's 31-3 loss to Miami.
"It was a tough game," said Cassel, who didn't go out for the Chiefs' final series because the medical staff decided he was too banged up to continue. "We didn't do enough offensively, we didn't execute throughout the day, and we just need to execute better."
Cassel said he hopes to play next Monday night against New England.
Rookie wide receiver Jon Baldwin tried to give Kansas City a spark when he hauled in an acrobatic 58-yard pass in the second quarter, reaching around safety Brian Dawkins to make the grab. Baldwin held onto the ball, still behind Dawkins' back, as both players fell to the ground, but the play was called back because wide receiver Steve Breaston had lined up illegally.
That was the way things went for the Chiefs.
Denver ran it right at them on its opening series, which Tebow capped with a touchdown run from 7 yards out. Matt Prater's 38-yard field goal made it 10-0 at halftime.
"We knew that was going to be a great challenge coming into this game," Kansas City coach Todd Haley said. "We had a Plan A, B and C for how we were going to stop the run, because it's a numbers issue, and no plans ended up working like we needed it to."
Tebow wound up missing all four of his pass attempts in the half, making Denver the first team to lead at the break without a completion since the Green Bay Packers led the Chicago Bears 14-0 on Oct. 31, 1994, according to STATS LLC. Brett Favre was 0 for 6 at halftime of that game.
Kansas City finally scored when Cassel hit Le'Ron McClain on a play-action pass from just outside the goal line midway through the third quarter. It was the first points scored by the Chiefs' offense since 12:01 left in the fourth quarter against San Diego two weeks ago.
The Broncos snuffed out the comeback bid with 6:44 left in the game, when Tebow hit Decker with the long touchdown pass. Ryan Succop kicked a field goal with 7 seconds left for Kansas City, but the Broncos recovered the onside kick, sending the Chiefs to their second straight loss.Comment on this story
"We have to do a better job of playing on Sundays, because it doesn't matter how practices go, how things look, you have to do it on Sunday," Haley said. "The good thing is I know we can. We've done it against quality opponents, and we have some quality opponents coming up."
NOTES: Chiefs DE Glenn Dorsey left late in the game with an undisclosed injury. ... There were no turnovers in the game, though a fumble by Chiefs RB Dexter McCluster was overturned after video review. ... QB Tyler Palko was 5 of 6 for 47 yards while running the Chiefs' no-huddle offense that set up Succop's field goal. ... Miller finished with seven tackles and 1½ sacks for Denver.