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Chiefs beat Broncos: 12 winners and 8 losers

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Naming winners and losers as the Chiefs improve to 4-0 on the regular season.

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Denver Broncos, 27-23, on Monday Night Football, improving to 4-0.

Here are the game’s winners and losers:

Winners

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
  • For the fourth week in a row to start the NFL season, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is your first winner. That being said, this wasn’t your typical Mahomes game—Monday night in Denver felt much different. Mahomes did not dominate, and he appeared mortal for the first time all regular season as he took pressure after pressure, in the first half even seeming a little rattled. Then, down 10 points late with his teammates not playing particularly well, he rallied the troops and led a comeback for the ages. This game will be remembered for that comeback, highlighted by his astonishing left-handed pass. Chiefs fans have been waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s time they stop. Mahomes finished 28 for 45 for 304 yards and one passing touchdown and three carries for seven yards and the first rushing touchdown of his career.
  • There you are, Kareem Hunt. Hunt has had a solid year, but nothing like we were used to seeing at the beginning of last—the rookie who seemingly nobody could tackle. Hunt regained that form Monday night against the Denver Broncos, finishing with an old-school Hunt line of 19 carries for 121 yards and the game-winning four-yard touchdown, as well as three catches for 54 yards. On the other side, the Broncos duo of Philip Lindsay and Royce Freeman can run (136 combined yards and a touchdown each)—they could be a force for the Chiefs to have to reckon with for years to come.
NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
  • Chiefs Twitter enjoys giving Demetrius Harris a lot of flak for his occasional inability to catch easy passes, but he made a rather important one on third-and-seven late in the fourth quarter with the Chiefs trailing by three points. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has made a point of it in the past to comment about how sometimes the easiest catches are the hardest to make. Maybe that’s it with Harris. Maybe he needs a certain level of difficulty in order to fully lock in. Harris totaled two catches for 59 yards and that key 35-yarder on third down.
  • Let’s stick with the tight ends and hand out a winner to Travis Kelce, who looked to have about three drops before getting out of his funk and helping Mahomes and the Chiefs storm back and beat the Broncos in the fourth quarter. Mahomes’ two-yard pass to Kelce cut the Broncos’ lead to three point. Kelce finished with seven catches for 78 yards and the touchdown.
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  • Kudos is in order for right tackle Mitch Schwartz, who, since being drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 2012, has had 100 opportunities to start in the regular-season. He has never missed one.
  • Tyreek Hill had nine catches for 54 yards on 13 targets. He may not necessarily be putting up incredible numbers every single game, but you have to wonder what he is doing for the other Chiefs’ skill-position players given how much attention he is demanding. Every piece of this offense matters.
  • It can’t be easy learning that your team was very aggressive in going after someone that would have probably taken most of your snaps. But rather than playing poorly because of it, Eric Murray did the opposite. He showed out Monday night, recording six combined tackles and likely the most impressive play of his career—an athletic interception he stole from the grasp of Broncos tight end Jeff Heuerman.
  • First-half Dee Ford and first-half Justin Houston are two players we have been waiting on for a long time. First-half Ford could be the best version of Ford we have seen since his career year in 2016, and he might even be the best defensive player on the Chiefs. First-half Houston tapped into the player we have grown accustomed to seeing against the Broncos. Both players had 1.0 sack. Allen Bailey was also hungry on Monday night.

Losers

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
  • With a 7-12 regular-season record as head coach, I’m not sure how long our friend Vance Joseph will last in Denver. I could see general manager John Elway growing impatient, especially as Joseph continues to fail to get over the Chiefs’ hump.
  • Second-half Justin Houston and second-half Dee Ford did not impress me on the first look. Houston appeared to be getting pushed around a bit more in half two, and Ford may have re-injured his groin. Ford is one of the Chiefs’ most important players on defense and he is on a contract year. Neither he nor the Chiefs can afford another lingering injury.
  • Speaking of injuries, Sammy Watkins left the game with a hamstring injury (a player with injury issues being immediately ruled out early in the game is NOT a good sign) and Eric Berry still has shown no sign of returning to the field.
  • It is hard to kill the Chiefs defense because the stepped up at the very end when it neede to, but there is something that needs to be done about that whole tackling aspect. This won’t be a fun re-watch in the film room.
  • Orlando Scandrick provided a textbook version of pass interference, and Eric Fisher had two third-down false start penalties with the Chiefs needing all the momentum they could muster.