DENVER -- Rookie running back Montee Ball scored two touchdowns, helping the Denver Broncos hand the Kansas City Chiefs their first loss of the season, 27-17 Sunday night in a matchup between two of the best teams in the league.
Peyton Manning, playing with a protective wrap around his sore right ankle and wearing gloves on his hands to ward off the cold, threw his 34th touchdown pass of the season as Denver (9-1) moved into a tie atop the AFC West with Kansas City (9-1). The Chiefs were the NFL's last team to take a loss this season.
Manning went 24-for-40 for 323 yards.
The game marked a rare late-season showdown between teams with the best records in the AFC. The combined winning percentages of the Chiefs and Broncos going into the contest (.944) was the highest between opponents this late in the year since Dec. 7, 1969, when the Minnesota Vikings (10-1) played the Los Angeles Rams (11-0), with the Vikings coming out on top 20-13.
The Broncos' top-scoring offense, though slowed, still finished with the most points this season against the Chiefs, who came in with the NFL's stingiest defense. Moreover, the Chiefs, who entered with a league-high 36 sacks, were unable to get to Manning all night.
Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith completed 21 of 45 for 230 yards and two touchdowns, including a 10-yarder to tight end Anthony Fasano with 4:56 remaining that was upheld on replay review. Officials initially ruled Fasano was out of bounds but the replay showed he managed to get both feet down before falling beyond the back line of the end zone.
After a punt, the Chiefs got the ball back with 3 1/2 minutes left and managed to get the Broncos' 45, but a fourth down pass by Smith fell incomplete. The Chiefs got the ball back one more time, with 55 seconds remaining, but ran out of time without making any headway against the Broncos' defense.
Up by a touchdown at the break, the Broncos took a 24-10 lead on Ball's second touchdown run, an 8-yarder, with 2:22 remaining in the third quarter.
Denver running back Knowshon Moreno (27 carries, 79 yards) got the drive going with an 11-yard gain on a draw, and Manning found wide receiver Eric Decker all alone coming across the middle for a 33-yard completion to the Chiefs' 14-yard line. A swing pass to Ball advanced the Broncos to the 8, and Ball swept around right end on the next play for the score.
Manning put together another scoring drive ending in Matt Prater's second field goal, a 36-yarder, with 7:06 left to play.
Denver took a 17-10 halftime lead, matching the most points scored against the Chiefs this season.
The Broncos went up 10-0, marking the first time the Chiefs had fallen behind by double digits in a game this year, behind Prater's 54-yard field goal and Manning's 9-yard scoring pass to tight end Julius Thomas.
A 70-yard completion to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (five receptions, 121 yards) set up the Broncos' first touchdown after the teams' swapped turnovers.
Manning bobbled a handoff to Ball that was recovered at the Broncos' 18-yard line by linebacker Derrick Johnson. But the Chiefs gave it back on the next play when fullback Anthony Sherman caught a swing pass and fumbled on a hit by linebacker Danny Trevathan. Cornerback Quentin Jammer recovered for the Broncos at their 16-yard line.
The Chiefs, benefiting from three defensive penalties, including a taunting call on Broncos safety Duke Ihenacho that gave Kansas City a first-and-goal at the 6, finished the drive with a scoring pass from Smith to wide receiver Dwayne Bowe.
The Broncos added a 1-yard touchdown run by Ball to go up 17-7. With 2:55 left in the second quarter, the Chiefs settled for a 20-yard field goal by Ryan Succop after linebacker Steve Johnson stuffed running back Jamaal Charles on a third-and-goal play from the 1.
NOTES: The Broncos and Chiefs meet again at Arrowhead Stadium on Dec. 1. ... Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn watched pregame warm-ups from the sideline and exchanged pleasantries with the Broncos' head of football operations, John Elway. ... Broncos PK Matt Prater missed wide left from 52 yards out just before halftime after connecting on his first 13 field-goal tries of the season. He was the last kicker in the league to register a miss. ... Chiefs DE Mike DeVito left the game in the first quarter with a left knee injury. ... QB Peyton Manning has at least one touchdown pass in 33 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the league. ... Broncos FS Rahim Moore left the game in the second quarter with a lower-leg injury.