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Patrick Mahomes throws four TDs, Watkins catches two as Chiefs beat Broncos 30-23

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The Chiefs are 7-1 at the halfway point. Who would have thought?

NFL: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs advance to 7-1 at the halfway point in their season, defeating the Denver Broncos 30-23 at Arrowhead Stadium on the strength of four towchdown passes by Patrick Mahomes — two of them to wide receiver Sammy Watkins.

Full game stats from NFL.com

First quarter

The Chiefs won the toss and deferred to the second half. Starting at their own 25 after a touchback, the Broncos offense went three and out after an incompletion to Demaryius Thomas and a pair of short runs by Devontae Booker and Phillip Lindsay.

The Chiefs did no better on their opening drive, which began after a 14-yard punt return by Tyreek Hill to the Chiefs 37-yard line. After Kareem Hunt gained two yards, Mahomes was flushed from the pocket but couldn’t escape the backfield, and was dropped for a two-yard loss. On third down, Mahomes was chased inside the ten-yard line and was forced to throw the ball away, which forced a punt.

It was first opening drive of the season that didn’t result in a score for the Chiefs.

Starting at their own 19-yard line after the punt, Denver got a first down on three consecutive runs. On the next play, Case Keenum was chased from the pocket and threw deep to Emmanuel Sanders for a 49-yard gain, putting the Broncos at the Chiefs 14. A ten-yard pass to Thomas put the Broncos a first and goal at the four-yard line. Two plays later, Lindsay scored on a one-yard rush, giving the Broncos a 7-0 lead with 7:40 remaining in the first quarter.

Tremon Smith returned the ensuing kickoff 33 yards to the Chiefs 37. A 15-yard completion to Kelce gave the Chiefs a first down past midfield, but two plays later, a crackback block penalty called on Hunt moved the Chiefs back to their own 38. An offsides penalty against the Broncos gave the Chiefs some of that yardage back, but two plays later, a pass interference penalty called on Denver’s Bradley Roby on a deep pass to Sammy Watkins gave the Chiefs a first down at the Denver 40.

Two plays later, Mahomes hit Hill for a 22-yard gain that gave the Chiefs a first and goal at the three-yard line. After a false start penalty on Chris Conley put the Chiefs back to the eight-yard line, Mahomes had an incompletion to Kelce and gained four with a pass to Hunt, but on third and goal from the three, Hunt was unable to turn the corner on a sweep play, and was tackled at the one-yard line.

The Chiefs decided to go for the touchdown, but a false start penalty called on backup guard Andrew Wylie moved them back to the six-yard line, and the Chiefs had to settle for a 24-yard Harrison Butker field goal that narrowed the Denver lead to 7-3 with 2:21 remaining in the first quarter.

Second quarter

Starting at their own 19 after a short kickoff return, the Broncos got a pair of first downs in three plays. Then Keenum found Sanders for a 22-yard completion deep into Kansas City territory, but offsetting penalties nullified the play. After a short gain on a a pass to Sanders, Lindsay broke loose for a 21-yard gain that was nullified by a holding penalty called on Connor McGovern.

On third and nine, the Chiefs had appeared to hold the Broncos after a pass to Sanders went incomplete. But Orlando Scandrick was called for defensive holding, which gave the Broncos a new set of downs at the Chiefs 39-yard line.

Following an incomplete pass to Jeff Heuerman and an eight-yard run by Lindsay, Tanoh Kpassagnon tackled Sanders for a six-yard loss, forcing a 55-yard field goal attempt. But Brandon McManus’ kick was wide right, and the Chiefs took over on their own 45 with the Broncos holding on to their 7-3 lead.

After a short pass to Hunt gained a yard, Mahomes tried a short pass to Hill, who broke a tackle in the middle of the field, cut back to the outside and broke for a 40-yard gain, putting the Chiefs at the Denver 14-yard line. Two plays later, Mahomes found Kelce with a nine-yard touchdown pass, and the Chiefs led 10-7 with 9:31 remaining in the half.

Starting at their own 26 after a 25-yard kickoff return from Adam Jones, the Broncos got a nine-yard completion from Thomas and a 14-yard run from Lindsay that took them just short of midfield. But then Breeland Speaks sacked Keenum for his first unassisted sack of the season, which was good for an 11-yard loss. Denver got it back on the next play with a 13-yard off-tackle run by Lindsay, but on third and eight, Keenum was sacked again — this time by Dee Ford, who forced a fumble that Denver recovered. Still, the play lost 11 yards, and Denver was forced to punt.

Pinned at their own 11 after Hill lost three yards attempting to return Colby Wadman’s punt, the Chiefs got a five-yard run from Hill, followed by an 18-yard reception to Kelce. The Mahomes hit Sammy Watkins for a 24-yard gain. Denver’s Tramaine Brock was called for holding Hill on the play, but the Chiefs declined the penalty. Hill and Brock had to be separated at the end of the play.

Now inside Denver territory, the Chiefs got 11 yards on a completion to Kelce and four yards on an inside run from Hunt. Another run from Hunt — this one for 11 yards — brought the Chiefs to the Denver 14. After a Mahomes scramble on first down gained a yard, the Chiefs quarterback found Watkins across the middle for a 13-yard touchdown pass. Butker missed his first extra point of the season, and the Chiefs led 16-7 with :54 remaining in the half.

Starting at their own 25, Denver managed a scoring drive before the half ended. After a scramble that gained nine yards, Keenum found Courtland Sutton for a 42-yard gain that brought them to the Kansas City 24. Two plays later, Keenum hit Tim Patrick in the end zone with a 24-yard touchdown pass that sent the teams to intermission with the Chiefs holding a 16-14 lead.

Third quarter

Tremon Smith got a 36-yard kickoff return to open the second half, but Frank Zombo was called for holding on the play, which started the Chiefs at their own 17. The Chiefs got a free six yards when Kelce caught a pass for a six yard gain and Bradley Chubb was called for illegal use of hands. After a two-yard run from Hunt and and incompletion to Kelce, Mahomes found Hill for an eight-yard gain for a first down. Another run from Hunt — this one for five yards — led to a short pass to Watkins that the wideout broke for 24 yards, putting the Chiefs at the Broncos 39.

Following another five-yard run from Hunt, a false start called on Demetrius Harris and an incompletion to Hunt, Mahomes hit Kelce for an 18-yard gain. But the Broncos’ Shaquil Barrett was called for roughing the passer, which put the Chiefs at the Denver 10-yard line. On the next play, Watkins caught his second touchdown pass of the day on a wide-open crosser from Mahomes, and the Chiefs led 23-14 with 10:16 left in the third quarter.

Starting at their own 20, Lindsay immediately broke free fro a 23-yard gain. But the play was called back when Max Garcia was called for holding. Sanders was stopped for no gain on a pass from Keenum, and another pass to Lindsay was good for 10 yards — but McGovern was called for illegal use of hands. Then it was Booker’s turn for a big gain — this one for 14 yards — but on third and nine, Chris Jones sacked Keenum for a 10-yard loss, forcing a punt.

But Wadman’s punt was terrible, going out of bounds at the Denver 32, which put the Chiefs in business with a short field. After a rough snap led to pressure and a throwaway on first down, Hunt gained three tough yards on a pass to the right flat. Watkins caught another pass that was just sort of the sticks on third down — and after taking a time out, the Chiefs decided to go for it on fourth and a foot.

From the 23-yard line, the Chiefs faked a sweep to the right — but Mahomes shoveled the ball to Hunt, who slithered through the line for the first down, broke a tackle and leapt over another defender to score. It went in the books as a 23-yard touchdown pass, but it was actually the second Oh wow! run from Hunt in as many weeks. The touchdown extended the Chiefs lead to 30-14 with 5:12 remaining in the third quarter.

Starting at their own 25 after a touchback, the Broncos alternated runs and intermediate passes to march down the field, and the Chiefs had no answer. A 21-yard pass to Courtland gave the Broncos first and goal at the Kansas City seven-yard line, but after consecutive incompletions and a three-yard run from Booker, the Broncos faced fourth and goal from the four-yard line. They decided to go for it. Keenun found Heuerman in the end zone — narrowing the Chiefs lead to 30-20 — but the Broncos couldn’t convert the two-point conversion when a rush by Booker was stopped short of the goal line.

Fourth quarter

After a touchback, the Chiefs started at their own 25-yard line. Mahomes found Watkins for an 11-yard gain to the 36, but on the next play, Mahomes’ pass to Kelce — under pressure — was intercepted by Justin Simmons at the Denver 39.

A false start moved the Broncos five yards back, and on the next play, Booker caught the Chiefs flat-footed, breaking a run for 26 yards. But the Denver momentum wouldn’t last. Two plays later, Dee Ford recorded his second strip-sack of the game, but this time, Speaks fell on the loose ball at the Kansas City 46-yard line with 12:16 remaining in the game.

A tough run-after-catch from Watkins gave the Chiefs a first down on the ensuing drive, but they could do little else. After Hunt was dropped for a six-yard loss, Mahomes was unable to connect on a third down pass to Kelce, and the Chiefs were forced to punt.

Starting at their own 25 after a touchback, Denver got a pair of runs from Lindsay — one for 11 yards, and one for five — before the Broncos made a big swing by calling up a flea-flicker. But the Chiefs weren’t fooled. Kendall Fuller jumped in front of Keenum’s pass to Thomas at the Chiefs 45-yard line, and got his first interception of the season.

Penalties on three consecutive plays — two of them for offensive holding — forced another three and out for the Chiefs, but Dustin Colquitt’s punt pinned the Broncos at their own 12-yard line.

Ford sacked at the Keenum at the line of scrimmage on first down. Lindsay gained eight on second down, but on third and two, Dorian O’Daniel dropped Booker for a two-yard loss on a pass from Keenum, forcing a punt.

Starting at their own 27, the Chiefs went three and out again. After two handoffs to Hunt, Mahomes was sacked for a six-yard loss on third down, forcing another Chiefs punt.

Taking over at their own 36 with 4:00 remaining — and with just one time out — Denver made a go of it. Passes to Sutton and Booker of 15 and 14 yards — plus a pair of seven-yard completions to Matt LaCosse — got the Broncos to the Chiefs 20-yard line with just over 2:00 remaining. But after a run and a pair of incompletions, the Broncos were forced to settle for a 36-yard McManus field goal, narrowing the Chiefs lead to 30-23.

The Broncos tried an onside kick, but Anthony Sherman got the ball first, giving the Chiefs the ball at the Denver 37-yard line. The Chiefs were unable to convert a first down, but they were able to drain the clock and pin the Broncos to their own 15 with four seconds remaining, sealing the 30-23 win.

Full game stats from NFL.com


Stats Headlines

Patrick Mahomes completed 24 passes on 34 attempts, gaining 303 yards. He had four touchdown passes and an interception, good for a passer rating of 125.0 on the day. He was sacked only once.

Broncos quarterback Case Keenum was 23 for 34, with 262 yards, two touchdowns and one interceptions. His passer rating was 97.9 on the day, and he was sacked five times — fumbling twice.

Sammy Watkins led the Chiefs in receiving with 107 yards and two touchdowns on eight catches. Travis Kelce caught six for 79 yards and a touchdown, and Tyreek Hill caught three for 70.

The Chiefs rushed for just 49 yards on 18 attempts. Kareem Hunt had 50 yards on 16 carries; Mahomes had two for -1. Hunt also had five catches for 36 yards and a touchdown.

The Broncos rushed 30 times and gained 189 yards against the Chiefs defense, led by Phillip Lindsay’s 95 yards on 18 carries.

Injuries

Anthony Hitchens suffered a rib injury in the fourth quarter, when he and Breeland Speaks combined on a tackle of Phillip Lindsay. Frank Zombo left the game with a hamstring injury.

Inactives

Safety Eric Berry, linebackers Justin Houston and Nate Orchard, offensive linemen Mitch Morse and Kahlil McKenzie, defensive lineman Justin Hamilton and running back Darrel Williams were all inactive for the Chiefs.


Next week

The Chiefs are back on the road again, facing the Cleveland Browns. Kickoff will be at 12:00 noon Arrowhead Time.

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