Broncos' Jacob Tamme lunged past Eric Berry for the Broncos' first touchdown Sunday. (US Presswire)

Having been with the Colts for three playoff appearances and an AFC Championship in his five-season career, Broncos TE Jacob Tamme knows more about the evolution of a successful season than most of his teammates and the key lessons along the way.

The one most apt for the Broncos (8-3) during their 17-9 win over 1-10 Kansas City in Week 12 was this: sometimes you're going to have an off-day, but what separates contenders from the pack is the ability to eke out a win regardless.

"I feel right now like it was good for us to scrap one out," Tamme said. "We've played in close games, we've won close games, but this was on the road, against a team desperate for a win."

It was a shaky performance, but it was enough.

Offense: C

Denver's scoring total would have looked a bit better if K Matt Prater had been on target, but he missed a pair of field goal attempts and has now misfired on four of his last nine tries dating back to Nov. 11. The offense wasn't completely ineffective; six of its nine drives netted multiple first downs; RB Knowshon Moreno had 111 yards from scrimmage in his first start of the season, and QB Peyton Manning's lone interception was a deep heave intended for WR Eric Decker that essentially functioned as a punt. But the 17 points were the offense's lowest total of the season, as the Broncos had a streak of five games with at least 31 points snapped, and multiple drops kept the passing game from finding its proper rhythm at times. Previous game's grade: B-

Defense: B

After being caught off-balance on its first series, the Broncos' defense gathered itself and began clamping down on the Chiefs. When Brady Quinn did throw, he rarely had time to set up and get comfortable, and after a pair of coverage gaffes on Kansas City TE Tony Moeaki in the first half, the Broncos tweaked their coverage and rarely let him get open after halftime. But what the Broncos did learn is that they can be run upon, and the Chiefs' 148-yard, 4.8-yards-per-carry performance on the ground offers a template that the Bucs and Ravens might try to follow with Doug Martin and Ray Rice, respectively. The run defense has some work to do if the Broncos are to extend their winning streak. Previous game's grade: B

Special teams: C-

KR/PR Trindon Holliday set up the offense in good field position twice with kickoff returns of 50 and 42 yards Sunday, but P Britton Colquitt had arguably his worst punt of the season, a 39-yard wobbler that Kansas City's Javier Arenas returned 20 yards to the Denver 37-yard-line, leaving the Chiefs just one first down away from a field goal that put them in front 6-0. Prater's struggles aren't a concern to the Broncos yet, but his two missed field goals and four in the last three games are mystifying -- especially a 33-yarder that he slammed into the left upright. Previous game's grade: B

Coaching: B.

Broncos coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy had a perfect opportunity to give Moreno a chance, and he played a mistake-free 60 minutes that likely earned him the job for the foreseeable future until Willis McGahee returns sometime in January. Defensively, they adapted to the Chiefs' running tendency and played most of the game in their base packages, which gradually closed the holes that Jamaal Charles, Peyton Hillis and Dexter McCluster saw early. As a result, the Chiefs amassed just three first downs on their last five possessions after falling behind 14-9 and never seriously threatened a comeback. Previous game's grade: B

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