Just when it looked like they finally did, Tebow went to the air.
Tebow finished two of eight for 69 yards, but added 44 yards and a score on the ground, as the Broncos (4-5) moved into a tie with Kansas City and San Diego behind AFC West-leading Oakland (5-4).
"I'm not trying to send a message," said Tebow, who is 3-1 since taking over as the starter. "I'm just trying to be a football player. We can improve from what we did today and get better."
Fox scrapped a large chunk of his playbook when he made Tebow the starter, trying to cater to his deft ability to run the read-option. And despite losing his best two running backs, Fox stuck with the ground game, content to wear down the Kansas City defense.
"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."
Nothing worked on offense, either.
"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.
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.
"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 five of six for 47 yards while running the Chiefs' no-huddle offense that set up Succop's field goal. ... Miller finished with seven tackles and 1 1/2 sacks for Denver.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press