Tony Richardson ran for 156 yards, the most by a Kansas City back in a decade, and the Chiefs totaled a season-best 264 rushing yards in a 20-7 victory over Denver on Sunday that did a lot more than merely stop the Broncos' six-game winning streak.
Denver (10-5) could have pulled even with Oakland (11-4) in the AFC West and owned the tiebreaker over the Raiders with one game to go. But the Broncos couldn't even score an offensive touchdown against a team that had lost five of six and ranked 26th in the league with an anemic running attack averaging only 82 yards per game.
"We came out very flat," Denver wide receiver Rod Smith said. "We stayed that way and lost the game."
Richardson, on his 29th birthday, totaled more yards rushing than any Chiefs runner since Barry Word got 200 in 1990.
Rookie Frank Moreau had 59 yards and a touchdown for the Chiefs (7-8), who have swept their season series against the Broncos two years straight.
The Chiefs had not had such a big rushing game since getting 310 yards against Detroit in the same game Word had 200.
"That's what this team is capable of doing," center Tim Grunhard said. "And to do it against that kind of defense those are some formidable guys in there."
To win the AFC West and avoid wild-card status, the Broncos will have to beat San Francisco next week and hope Oakland loses at home to Carolina.
"I don't think I'll be getting a bouquet or a Christmacard from (Oakland owner Al Davis)," said Chiefs GM Carl Peterson, who earlier in the week agreed to a five-year contract.
"I thought about that at the end of the game."
The Broncos, who scored more than 30 points each of their four previous games, failed to get an offensive touchdown for the first time since the 1999 regular-season finale.
"All in all, I think this was our best defensive effort of the year," said defensive end Eric Hicks, whose two sacks pushed his total to 14, the most since Neil Smith had 15 in 1993.
The Broncos' only score came on a boneheaded special teams play by Kansas City's Kevin Lockett, who was hit in the helmet on a punt that was recovered in the end zone by Denver's Jason Suttle.
"We had all the reasons to find a way to win this game, play extremely hard for what was on the line," Denver coach Mike Shanahan said. "Kansas City wasn't really playing for anything except pride. They came out and beat us in all phases."
The Broncos led 7-3 in the third when Richardson went through a big hole for 23 yards. Then quarterback Elvis Grbac, never known for his nifty footwork, slipped two tackles on a 19-yard run to the 4, setting up a 2-yard touchdown run by Moreau that gave the Chiefs a 10-7 lead.
Then, with 7:14 to go, Richardson went around left end on a 28-yard TD gallop.
Todd Peterson, who had a 40-yard field goal in the first quarter, tacked on a 27-yarder with 33 seconds to play.
Lockett, a former Kansas State star, was standing near the 10-yard line when Tom Rouen's punt dropped through the frigid air. Then Lockett inexplicably turned his back to the ball and took a step toward the goal line.
The ball hit him on the helmet, bounced at the 2 and rolled into the end zone, where Suttle covered it.
"He didn't really give me an explanation," Chiefs coach Gunther Cunningham said.
Mike Anderson, who had rushed for more than 100 yards the three previous games, had only 62 yards on 12 carries as the Broncos were held to just 66 net yards rushing.
"I never thought I'd see the day as an offense when we wouldn't get any points on the board," Anderson said. "Today was not fun at all."
©2000 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed