The good news for the Chiefs: There will be no talk this week of being "exposed" as a fraudulent contender by Peyton Manning. The Kansas City defense didn't succeed in putting Manning on his back, but it did keep him from taking the game over. Manning threw for 318 yards but just one touchdown pass -- a season low.
The Chiefs looked skittish on the big stage early on. NBC's Cris Collinsworth astutely noted that the setting and circumstance alone could be a positive for a team that had piled up wins in a relatively low-key manner. We don't doubt this game will help the Chiefs if they find themselves on the road in January.
But this game wasn't supposed to be about modest victories and teachable moments. We surmise the Chiefs believed they could actually win the damn thing, and they fell well short of that goal.
The Chiefs will get another shot at this. After hosting the 4-6 San Diego Chargers at home next week, the Broncos come to town in a game that could mean the difference between a first-round bye and a wild-card matchup on the road.
Simply being competitive won't be acceptable when these two teams meet again. The Chiefs' real test is coming.