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Broncos 35, Chiefs 28

Denver cements top spot in AFC West

Broncos Eric Decker and Peyton Manning celebrate after one of their four TD connections.

John Rieger/USA TODAY sports

Broncos Eric Decker and Peyton Manning celebrate after one of their four TD connections.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In the words of Chiefs safety Eric Berry, Peyton Manning does not discriminate.

If you’re playing wide receiver for the Denver Broncos, and you manage to get yourself open, you can bet that Manning is going to find a way to get you the ball.

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On Sunday, he rewarded Eric Decker all afternoon.

Manning threw for 403 yards and five touchdowns, four of them to Decker, and the Broncos held off a rally to beat the Chiefs, 35-28, and seize control of the AFC West.

‘‘I think he showed people why he’s so great,’’ Decker said. ‘‘How we run our offense, we’re very versatile as far as going inside, outside, left, right, whatever it may be. Fortunately I had some play calls and took advantage of the opportunities I got.’’

Decker had eight catches for a career-high 174 yards for the Broncos (10-2), who moved a game clear of the Chiefs (9-3) in the division.

With four games left, Denver also holds the tiebreaker by virtue two wins over Kansas City in the past three weeks. The Broncos have the AFC’s best record.

‘‘It was a great, gritty effort on the road,’’ said interim coach Jack Del Rio, who led Denver to a 3-1 mark while John Fox was recovering from heart surgery. Fox is due back on Monday.

‘‘We figured they would have some type of surge early and I loved the way our guys responded,’’ Del Rio said. ‘‘It puts us in first place and now we’ll go welcome Coach Fox back.’’

The Chiefs jumped out to a 21-7 lead, but the Broncos answered with 28 points. Jamaal Charles scored from a yard out with 6:32 left to get Kansas City within a touchdown, and then the Chiefs forced a punt with 3:32 remaining to get the ball back.

Three long passes moved the Chiefs downfield, but Alex Smith’s pass to Dwayne Bowe in the end zone on fourth and 4 with 1:45 left fell incomplete, allowing the Broncos to run out the clock.

Smith threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns for Kansas City, while Knile Davis returned a kickoff 108 yards for another score.

Denver won despite missing a slew of injured players, including three starters on defense and tight end Julius Thomas, who has developed into one of Manning’s favorite red-zone options. No need to worry. Decker more than shouldered the burden.

The fourth-year pro caught a 41-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, two more TD passes in the third, and a short fade for a score in the fourth quarter.

Most of the time, Decker was going against Chiefs defensive back Marcus Cooper, an undrafted free agent who’d become a starter.

Manning has 41 TD passes, breaking his franchise record of 37 set last season.

‘‘Sometimes, when you play a team close to back-to-back, there are some ideas that are fresh in your mind,’’ Manning said. ‘‘We thought there were some chances to get down the field in that first game that we never got to. We wanted to get to some of those plays.’’

The Chiefs, who dropped their third straight, squandered far too many chances, including one right out of the gate when Smith was picked off by Wesley Woodyard in the end zone.

But the Chiefs took the lead when Smith hit Junior Hemingway for a score. And after Decker beat Brandon Flowers for a tying score, Davis took the ensuing kickoff 108 yards, the longest return in franchise history.

Smith’s touchdown pass to Anthony Fasano made it 21-7. That’s when Denver scored 28 consecutive points.

‘‘Losses are the nature of the game,’’ Smith said. ‘‘Earlier in the year we were coming out the other end of it. We just have to continue to fight.’’

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