Grade the Chiefs win over the Broncos.
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The rest of the AFC West is mediocre enough that it probably won’t matter, but this Chiefs season has never been about winning the division. It’s been about the playoffs, so with homefield advantage and even a first-round bye slipping out of their control, it had become so easy to focus on what the Chiefs can’t do. And no matter how closely they stuck to the script in public, that feeling had started to exist in this locker room, too.
Lodged into the corner of the visiting locker room inside Arrowhead Stadium, Jamaal Charles hurried to pack his belongings. A throng of media waited.
His bare feet squeezed into a pair of black dress shoes. He pulled a green vest over his shoulders, without slowing to button the garment.
“Let’s just get this over with,” he muttered.
Two things on this: One, it eerily reminded me of that 2015 matchup in which Charles fumbled the ball on one of the game’s final plays and the Broncos took it back to win 31-24.
Two, like Joel, it made me feel a bit bad for Charles, who barely saw any real time the rest of the game. Charles finished with eight carries for just 39 yards.
“It was emotional for me,” Nelson said. “Just being back out there. I’ve never been hurt before. This was crushing,”
That play was the first Chiefs turnover since the first play of the entire season. That one was Kareem Hunt’s very first NFL carry.
But as time has shown, things have worked out for Hunt and the Kansas City offense. Monday night, though, they had their hiccups. Smith would later fumble the ball in the game.
“It would be selfish of us to say, ‘What else can we do?’” linebacker Shane Ray said. “… We have to do a better job of protecting the football. You can’t win the NFL turning the ball over five times.”
Even more incredibly, it was Peters' 17th interception in only his 39th regular-season game. As SNF on NBC noted, he leads the league since entering in 2015 as the 18th overall pick:
It’s hard to remain upbeat with this Denver Broncos team after dropping four of their last five games with some of the worst offensive play in a decade, but they still have their defense. The question now is whether or not they can generate some offense.
“I’m from a big family, so I understand there are times to follow, and there are times to lead. There are times to speak up,” Houston told USA TODAY Sports after Monday night's 29-19 defeat of the Denver Broncos. “We just weren’t having fun.
"We put so much pressure on us because we know how good we could be. ... But I had to tell them that while we’re holding ourselves to the high standards we have to be real, but we have to have fun.”
“The chaos around us was so intense,” said Dan Israel, the current executive producer of the Chiefs’ radio network who was in the booth that night, along with Voice of the Chiefs Mitch Holthus, longtime sportscaster Bill Grigsby, and Dawson. “On the left side of us was Broncos’ radio booth. On the right side was (Broncos’ owner) Pat Bowlen’s suite.
Look, a win is a win. Kudos. Good for them. That’s the entire point. But sometimes you can see critical flaws in a victory that can come back to bite you against better teams. This was one of those games. The Chiefs’ run defense remains a serious problem; the Broncos couldn’t throw the ball and they still racked up 177 yards and a ridiculous 5.7 yards per carry. What’s more, the inability of the offense to finish in the red zone was a bit concerning; no one likes to see five field goals. Add that to the Chiefs’ miserable running game on offense — the offensive line failed to generate much movement against the league’s No. 2 rush defense as Kareem Hunt was held to 46 yards in 22 carries — and fans have more than enough to chew on at the midway point of the season.
According to an ESPN story in May, the rule remains because of the “possibility that the goalpost could be dislodged and require repairs. It also violates a rule that remains in place: using the goal post as a prop.”
Call it the Jimmy Graham Rule. In 2013, Graham dunked over the crossbar and then held on and this happened:
“Route-running wise, he is a tough matchup for safeties and linebackers,” Smith said of Kelce, who caught a team-high seven passes for 133 yards and punctuated the touchdown with a dance.
This was Houston. After two straight weeks of mostly just bull rushing, he was gliding around the edge again, bending at the turn, the sign of all great edge rushers, wrecking anything other than quick passes when he wasn’t getting all the way home for the sack.
"Our defense really stepped up tonight," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "They showed a lot of fire."
Wilson suffered a hamstring injury. He was targeted just once, and had no yards, before his exit.
Ford, who had one tackle, injured his back and left in the first half. He has dealt with back spasms this year.
During the halftime ceremony, a red curtain fell from the overhang on Arrowhead Stadium’s upper deck, unveiling Carson’s No. 88 in the Ring of Honor. His name and number will have a resting spot in the northeast corner of of the venue, neighboring Tony Richardson’s.
Player of the game: Cornerback Marcus Peters jump-started the win with his strip of Jamaal Charles, which Peters recovered and ran in for a touchdown. He also recorded his team-leading third interception of the season.
Reason to hope: The Chiefs’ defense finally got back to its opportunistic ways, harassing quarterback Trevor Siemian into three interceptions and forcing another fumble that resulted in a touchdown.