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Final score: Chiefs take care of business, defeat Broncos 23-3

Tight end Travis Kelce went off as Kansas City spoiled Drew Lock’s homecoming to Arrowhead Stadium.

Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs set up for a two-point conversion in the third quarter, already up 21-3. With nobody initially open, Patrick Mahomes juked from his left, to his right, evading two Denver Broncos rushers. That was enough time for the Chiefs quarterback to find wide receiver Sammy Watkins for the two-point conversion and 23-3 dagger.

The Chiefs never looked back, with Mahomes looking the best he has since his return game against the Tennessee Titans. He went 27 of 34 for 340 yards and two touchdowns and an interception.

After stopping the Broncos on the game’s first series, the Chiefs scored their only touchdown of the first half.

Amid pregame worries about his hand, Mahomes found wide receiver Hill deep on a corner route for a 41-yard touchdown. Hill had five catches for 67 yards and two touchdowns in the game.

Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker made 23 and 24-yard field goals in the second quarter before Broncos kicker Brandon McManus hit from 32 yards. Butker added a 44-yard field goal in the closing seconds of the quarter to give the Chiefs a 15-3 lead at the half.

The Broncos’ best opportunity of the first half came late in the second quarter, when quarterback Drew Lock nearly connected with wide receiver Courtland Sutton in the end zone. Safety Tyrann Mathieu broke up the pass. Mathieu also had a sack in the game. Mathieu’s apprentice — rookie Juan Thornhill — had an interception in the end zone in the third quarter.

Butker’s 10 points (412) broke Will Lutz’s record (409) for most points scored in a player’s first three seasons in NFL history. Tight end Travis Kelce finished with 11 catches for 142 yards and became the first tight end in league history to record 1,000 yards four seasons in a row.

Chiefs highlights

Stats of note

  • Patrick Mahomes: 27/34 for 340 yards, two touchdowns, an interception and sacked three times. Mahomes had a passer rating of 115.7 on the day.
  • Drew Lock: 18/40 for 208 yards, no touchdowns and and interception. He was sacked twice, and had a passer rating of only 50.8.
  • Travis Kelce led the Chiefs with 142 yards on 11 catches. Tyreek Hill was second with 67 yards and two touchdowns on five catches. Sammy Watkins had three catches for 49 yards.
  • Courtland Sutton had 79 yards on four catches. Noah Fant had 56 on only two catches.
  • Darwin Thompson had 38 yards on eight carries. The Chiefs rushed for 73 yards — and were able to chew up almost five minutes to close out the game.
  • Phillip Lindsay had only 32 yards on 11 carries. As a team, the Broncos only had only 52 yards rushing

Rapid reaction

The takeaway of the game for me came late in the third quarter, with the Chiefs up 23-3.

The drive ended with a Broncos interception, when Patrick Mahomes escaped from pressure and tried to force the ball to Tyreek Hill in the end zone. But that isn’t what stuck with me.

The Chiefs, up convincingly in the game in the second half, were actively trying to put it out of reach; it felt like the first time in forever.

Up three scores, Andy Reid called four pass plays out of seven. The next possession, he called two pass plays out of three. Even with the game almost in hand, Reid went for the jugular. These particular plays didn’t work out this time, but that is the attitude and style a team competing for a championship needs to have.

Travis Kelce’s game was ridiculous — and Tyrann Mathieu continues to lead with his words, mentorship (Juan Thornhill) and by example. Frank Clark once again fought through illness to play.

The defense is still Kansas City’s strength — but on Sunday, the offense took a stride towards meeting them in the middle. The team has two more weeks to figure it out — and if the New England blatant cheaters can drop one along the way, perhaps they will be afforded a third.

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