The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Denver Broncos, 27-24 on Sunday, finishing the season with a 10-6 record.
This is the good, the bad and the ugly.
GOOD: Patrick Mahomes’ began his NFL career with a perfect pass
After what looked like two miscues with Demarcus Robinson that resulted in incompletions, Patrick Mahomes fired a ball to Demetrius Harris on third-and-10 despite tight coverage from the Broncos defense.
The throw-and-catch resulted in a 51-yard gain.
GOOD: Kareem Hunt, NFL rushing champion
It took just one handoff for Kareem Hunt to take the NFL’s lead in rushing yards. He needed just 14 yards to catch Todd Gurley, and he got 35 yards and a touchdown on one single play.
In all his fantastic years with the Chiefs, Jamaal Charles never won a league rushing title. It took Hunt just one season.
BAD: Mahomes’ pick
Patrick Mahomes was looking sharp early until first-and-10 at the Denver 34-yard line. Looking for De’Anthony Thomas, the rookie sailed the football and it went into the hands of Darian Stewart.
GOOD/BAD: Is Tanoh Kpassagnon ready for more playing time?
It is something that hasn’t been talked about a lot, but the 6-foot-7, 289-pound Tanoh Kpassagnon has not been contributing with the starters on a regular basis, at least yet. He usually gets about 10 plays a game, but he had an opportunity for more Sunday.
Tanoh has to do a better job holding the edge, which you guys saw there. When he nails that down he'll play more— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) December 31, 2017
The 2016 second-rounder may have the build of a professional wrestler, but the problem seems to be he is still learning the outside linebacker position after coming out as a defensive end.
Analyst Mike Mayock said this about Kpassagnon, via the NFL’s draft site: "You wanna talk about genetic freaks, folks. Step right up. I had a DC tell me when he's the first guy off the bus, he looks so good, he should be pick No. 0. But he's gonna be about a year away."
Kpassagnon notched the first sack of his career ate in the game against the Broncos,, and he seemed to get better as the game went along.
I’m interested in seeing his role in the playoffs, and if he’s only used sparingly, he’ll be a player to watch for 2018 training camp.
BAD: No one was helping Mahomes early
I was interested in seeing how Mahomes would respond to an interception, and though it wasn’t good it probably wasn’t his fault.
A bad snap from backup center Jordan Devey (filling in for Zach Fulton) led to a fumble, so Mahomes was pushed back to second-and-22.
It’s worth noting how critical it will be for Fulton (and really all the starting offensive linemen) to stay healthy throughout the playoff push.
UGLY: De’Anthony Thomas’ injury did not look good
Broncos cornerback Marcus Rios tackled De’Anthony Thomas on a kick return, and it Rios rolled up on Thomas’ ankle.
The cart came out for Thomas, and after the game it was announced he fractured his leg.
De’Anthony Thomas fractured his leg today and won’t return to KC with the team tonight, per Andy Reid.— BJ Kissel (@ChiefsReporter) January 1, 2018
GOOD: Mahomes in the pocket, Wilson downfield
Mahomes faced third-and-14 early on in the second quarter and Brandon Marshall had the quarterback by his foot.
3rd and 14. Mahomes throws a dime while being tackled. pic.twitter.com/wCwMGLfhLi— Tom Martin (@TomKCTV5) December 31, 2017
Despite looking all but sacked, Mahomes managed to evade the tackle and threw a dart to Albert Wilson, who ran a fantastic route down the field--a 17-yard gain for a first down.
BAD: Chiefs backup defenders showing why they’re, you know, backups
After the slowest scrambler of all time Paxton Lynch ran for a first down in the second quarter, the Broncos called a screen to running back De’Angelo Henderson.
It was a good call and perfectly timed, but both Eric Murray and Ramik Wilson had an opportunity to tackle Henderson before the first-down marker.
Wilson appeared to have Henderson’s legs wrapped up, but he got away, running down the field 15 yards for a touchdown.
GOOD: Mahomes’ drive to end quarter two
The Broncos took a 10-7 lead with less than five minutes to go in the first half. Mahomes and the Chiefs offense got the ball at its own 27-yard line, and what we saw was a thing of beauty.
Mahomes looked good in the pocket, connecting with Albert Wilson twice for gains of 19 and 24 yards and he almost scored the first touchdown of his career on a scramble and dive for the left end zone pylon.
Mahomes stepped out at the 1-yard line, so the Chiefs gave it to Anthony Sherman, who scored the first rushing touchdown of his seven-year career.
UGLY: Come on Vance
Terrance Smith picked off Paxton Lynch and there were 20 seconds left in the second quarter, so Mahomes kneeled to head into the locker room with a 14-10 lead.
Then Vance freakin’ Joseph decided to call timeout!
Vance, this game is meaningless! It’s New Year’s Eve!
Do you have no plans?
GOOD: Best. Punt. Ever
I couldn’t be too upset, though, because on fourth down, Dustin Colquitt punted the ball from the Kansas City 20 to the Denver 3-yard line.
77 yards of karma for Mr. Joseph.
GOOD: Mahomes made some special plays Sunday
I am not trying to open up an Alex Smith vs. Patrick Mahomes 2018 debate right now because we’ll have plenty of time to do that when the season is over. But I do want to point out a particular play from Mahomes in the third quarter.
Mahomes is pressured, flushed out of the pocket to his right, falling backward, and the pass is completed. This was a type of play that not a lot of quarterbacks in the league could make. Mahomes’ arm is special.
GOOD: The “Anthony Sherman game”
We though that Sunday was going to be all about Patrick Mahomes, but a nice surprise was how much the Chiefs utilized Anthony Sherman.
“Remember the Anthony Sherman game?” I’ll say to Joel 20 years from now, recalling today’s contest— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) December 31, 2017
Sherman is an unsung hero for the Chiefs, usually getting on the field for about seven to 10 plays a game. Sherman took over primary running back duties for the Chiefs for the entire second half Sunday and looked good doing it.
Wait. Anthony Sherman looks pretty good running that inside zone— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) December 31, 2017
Sherman finished with 14 carries for 40 yards and a touchdown. He had only six career carries entering the game Sunday.
GOOD: Chris Jones absolutely destroyed Paxton Lynch
There was Paxton Lynch, standing there all innocently, trying to will the Broncos back into it only down seven points when.......
Chris Jones came in with some speed and absolutely destroyed him. Lynch fumbled the football, and Ramik Wilson picked it up and ran 11 yards for the touchdown.
GOOD/BAD: Terrance Mitchell makes an interception in the end zone
The Broncos went for it on fourth-and-15 because why not, and Paxton Lynch launched a ball to the right side of the end zone.
Lynch was late to the receiver and Terrance Mitchell stepped up to make the interception, returning it to the Kansas City 42-yard line.
On the other side of this, Lynch does not look like a franchise quarterback. It’s important to note this, as the Chiefs had interest in Lynch but the Broncos jumped them to get him in the first round of the 2016 draft.
Right now, it’s looking like the Chiefs were very fortunate to miss Lynch and eventually end up with Patrick Mahomes.
UGLY: Tyler Bray
Something I didn’t expect we’d see Sunday was Tyler Bray.
Something I really didn’t expect we’d see was on Tyler Bray’s first play, a fumble on a handoff to Anthony Sherman and a 38-yard Broncos touchdown.
Bray wasn’t sharp on the next drive, either, and the Chiefs had to bring Patrick Mahomes back in after the tie. That a bad look for Bray.
When the Chiefs eventually do move on from Alex Smith, you’d have to think they will bring in some competition for the backup role behind Patrick Mahomes.
GOOD: In Mahomes we trust
And speaking of Patrick Mahomes, once it was tied at 24-24, he came back on for the Chiefs’ final drive and was extremely impressive.
The play on first-and-10 at the Kansas City 32-yard line was unbelievable. Flushed out to his right, Mahomes had to throw on the run as he got hit, and it was a perfect pass to Demarcus Robinson. First down Chiefs.
Mahomes and Albert Wilson eventually propelled the offense to the 12-yard line, where Harrison Butker made the 30-yarder for the walkoff win.