Welp that sucked.
This morning it was reported that Mahomes had the flu but would still play, and his sick hands got on the ball first. The offense started slow as they lost 4 yards on their first 3 plays, including on 3rd down when it looked like Mahomes may have had some options. The situation got worse as Mims returned it to the Chiefs 39. It looked like the Chiefs may have forced a 3-and-out themselves after forcing a 3rd and 6, but Tranquill got lost in space and allowed a 1st down conversion on a screen. That play was the key as the Broncos proceeded to put together a drive to set up a 1st and goal on the 4, and 2 plays later Javonte Williams took a screen for a touchdown to make it 7-0 Broncos.
The next drive started much better as Pacheco powered his way for a 19 yard carry on the first play. After a 6 yard loss on a screen two plays later it was 3rd and 13, and Mahomes looked like he was fully healthy as he rolled out and while on the run found Justin Watson down the sidelines for 27 yards. Two plays later Mahomes dodged and weaved his way on a scramble for an 8 yard gain. After a couple more plays it was 3rd and 2 on the 3, but the shovel play unusually didn’t work and the Chiefs settled for a short field goal to make it 7-3 Broncos.
The 1st quarter wound down with the teams trading penalties. Omenihu was offsides, then Courtland Sutton committed offensive pass interference on Sneed. Then the quarter finally ended on a 9 yard run to take a 2nd and 6 into the next quarter.
The Chiefs defense opened the 2nd quarter strong as they forced the Broncos to punt after just 2 more plays. The offensive drive started well, as MVS made a nice move on a short pass to pick up 11 yards. But a couple plays later after he made a catch for 16 yards he immediately fumbled and gave the Broncos the ball right around midfield (and unlike Bell’s “fumble” last week this one was an actual fumble). Then the first play Russell Wilson actually managed to find Jerry Juedy deep for 39 yards who made a tough catch defended by Justin Reid who got injured on the play. Two plays later he found Juedy again in the endzone that looked close on review but they upheld it and the Broncos went up 14-3.
Things continued to get worse as, after picking up a 3rd and short, Mahomes threw a horrible interception to Ja’Quan McMillan to yet again give the Broncos the ball close to midfield. The defense managed to respond as they forced a 4th and 2 after 3 plays. The Broncos went for it, but again Denver had no answer as the defense covered the play action and Wilson’s attempted scramble went nowhere thanks to Drue Tranquill. The offense was inspired as a checkdown to Rice turned into a run down the sidelines for 39 yards. Unfortunately that’s about as far as they went, as Mahomes scrambled and likely could have picked up the 1st down but was too indecisive, and a 3 yard loss on the ensuing 3rd down led to another field goal by Butker to make it 14-6.
For just the 2nd time all game the Broncos got the ball inside their own 30. The drive started with a bang as Javonte Williams gained 15 yards after Chenal overran the play in the backfield and opened up a lane. But the Chiefs held as Karlaftis got a pressure and forced Wilson into Mike Danna’s waiting arms for the sack.
The Chiefs got the ball with 3:30 left in the half somehow having the potential to tie despite an ugly 1st half. Up until the 2 minute warning the drive was moving mostly on the back of short passes to Kelce and Hardman that went for 11 and 12 yards respectively. After the break Skyy Moore got into the action as he picked up a 1st down on a 8 yard catch then the next play forced a defensive hold. The play after that it was Kelce again for 19 yards to the Denver 19 yard line. But yet again it was turnovers that killed the Chiefs, as Mahomes was strip sacked and the Broncos recovered.
The Broncos got the ball on their own 30 with 32 seconds left in the half, and managed to move the ball down the field slowly, at one point Andy Reid actually took a timeout hoping to get the ball back, but finally the Chiefs got a break as Karlaftis got the strip sack and Willie Gay recovered. Now it was the Chiefs with the ball at the Broncos 48 with 9 seconds left. Mahomes found McKinnon for 9 to give Butker the opportunity for a 56 yard field goal attempt, which he nailed to bring the score to 14-9 at half.
Denver got the ball to start the 2nd half, and after a strong start by the defense Sutton made a fantastic catch through great contest by Sneed (they called a BS pass interference on Sneed but it didn’t matter) to pick up 23 yards on 3rd and 5. They managed to drive down the field a little more, and on a 3rd and 4 a sack by Omenihu got taken off the board as a hold on Sneed gave the Broncos a free 1st down instead. The Broncos continued to move the ball a bit, but after an illegal formation call created a 1st and 15 the Broncos eventually faced a 3rd and 9, which was the opportunity Omenihu and Karlaftis took to brutally crush Wilson on a sack. It seemed like the Broncos would extend the lead with a field goal, but Reid blocked it and the Chiefs defense and special teams held them to no points.
Now the momentum was starting to shift towards the Chiefs as they got the ball for the 1st time in the 2nd half. The momentum looked like it was going to go away quick as Mahomes was sacked on 3rd and 4, but yet again a defensive hold wiped out a sack and extended the drive. The next play Mahomes found Rice over the middle but he dropped it, but the next play after that Watson made up for it by catching a 15 yard pass. Unfortunately the drive only lasted 3 more plays, as after a 12 men in the huddle penalty they eventually faced a 3rd and 5, on which Mahomes overthrew Watson and forced Townsend to come out and punt.
The Broncos were backed up on their own 9 to start the drive. They managed a 10 yard run and a 14 yard short pass to get the ball out to the 35, but an illegal formation penalty and a -1 yard run meant they took a 2nd and 16 into the 4th quarter.
The 4th quarter started out with what was a theme of the day, defensive penalties on the secondary bailing out bad offenses. This time Sneed got called for a defensive pass interference to turn a 3rd and 16 into an 18 yard gain by penalty that many thought should have been on the offense. The Broncos started to roll as the ground and short passing game got them down to the Chiefs 27, but on 3rd and 8 Leo Chenal came on the blitz and got a huge sack for a loss of 9, forcing a punt. But the sloppy play continued as Hardman muffed the punt to give the Broncos the ball on the 10 yard line, and 2 plays later Wilson found Sutton in the endzone to give the Broncos a 21-9 lead.
The Chiefs finally got the ball for only the 2nd time in the 2nd half with 10:33 left needing two touchdowns. It started ugly as Mahomes miss Pacheco then Kelce had a drop, then Mahomes spun around to find Rice for 9 to set up a 4th and 1, which was easily converted on a short pass to Kelce. A couple plays later it was 3rd and 3 and Mahomes spun around to avoid pressure again before finding Noah Gray this time for 17 yards. After Mahomes got hit while throwing on 3rd down a couple plays later it was 4th down again, this time with 3 yards to go. Unfortunately Skyy Moore dropped it in the endzone and the Broncos took over on downs.
The game felt over, but the defense forced a quick 3-and-out and suddenly the Chiefs got the ball back again with a not unreasonable chance of coming back with 6:33 left on the clock. By after an incompletion Mahomes got sacked to set up a 3rd and 17, and tried to escape pressure again but ran into Jawaan Taylor to make it 4th and 27. where he threw up a prayer and got picked off on a play that probably should have been called pass interference as they held MVS.
The game was all but over at this point, as the Broncos were just running clock. They tacked on a field goal, and the Chiefs suffered what is probably their worse loss of the Mahomes era 24-9.