Knighton: Stuffing Jamaal Charles key for Broncos win over Chiefs
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 4:24pm
By Johnny Hart
It’s no secret limiting a team’s best offensive player is usually key to pulling out a victory in the NFL.
But shutting down Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles is less about slowing down one of the NFL’s top-tier runners, and more about forcing the hand of quarterback Alex Smith.
Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said as much this week in The Locker Room with Nate Kreckman for Monday Night Madness, indicating Denver needs to make Kansas City throw the ball.
“We have to stop Jamaal Charles from getting things rolling. I think that’s what made Oakland successful against them (last week),” Knighton said. “They built a lead, so it forced Kansas City to have to throw the ball. And sometimes when a team has to throw the ball, they kind of forget about their money guys.”
Charles certainly has earned his $9.6 million salary in 2014, ranking among the league’s Top 10 in rushing yards (772), yards per attempt (5.1), yards per game (77.2), rushing touchdowns (8), and combined rushing/receiving touchdowns (11).
But during the first Chiefs/Broncos matchup in Week 2, Charles was knocked out of the game early.
Denver would go on to win 24-17 after forcing Smith into a season-high 42 passing attempts.
“We’ll just have to get after (Smith) and force him to beat us and not Jamaal Charles,” Knighton said, “because if Jamaal Charles is getting 30 to 40 touches, most of the time you’re losing.”
All four of Kansas City’s losses have come when Smith throws the ball more than 30 times.
But Smith doesn’t often make mental errors, throwing fewer interceptions per attempt (1.2 percent) than all NFL quarterbacks except Aaron Rodgers.
“One thing about him is that he doesn’t want to make mistakes. He doesn’t want to turn the ball over,” Knighton said. “If he doesn’t have a throw, he’s going to run or he’ll throw it away. He’s not going to throw you the ball.”
In any scenario, however, Sunday should be a fun matchup for Knighton, who said he loves playing the Chiefs in Kansas City, calling Arrowhead Stadium a “hostile environment.”
“They can’t wait for us to get there. It’s loud. They’re wearing their all-red. It’s a rivalry,” Knighton said. “It’s one of the biggest rivalries in NFL history, so I look forward to it. I love being a part of it.”