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Chiefs vs. Broncos: Instabreakdown: Defense takes over in big win

Yet again, the Kansas City defense stole the show during Sunday night’s big victory.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Final Score: Kansas City Chiefs 22, Denver Broncos 9

Offense (Bryan Stewart)

in a lot of different ways, it was more of the same for the Chiefs’ offense on Sunday night. A well-orchestrated opening drive — capped off by a Patrick Mahomes touchdown run — had the positive energy flowing. The second drive ended in a field goal, giving Kansas City 10 points within the game’s first quarter.

After that, Kansas City’s offensive output wasn’t much to write home about. On this particular evening, it was still good enough to come away with the the team’s 12th-consecutive victory over the Broncos. In other games — potentially playoff games — it is likely we will need to see much greater consistency from Andy Reid’s offense.

Just as they have all season, dropped passes continue to haunt the unit. Even worse, several of these drops have bounced off receivers’ hands only to become interceptions for the opposing defense — as was the case with one of Tyreek Hill’s dropped passes on Sunday night, which was brought in by Broncos cornerback Patrick Surtain II.

If players begin to think too much about trying to avoid mistakes, issues like drops can snowball in a hurry — and I would estimate that is exactly what has been occurring with Kansas City’s receivers this season. This would also help explain why they seem to come in bunches during specific games — but then in other matchups, disappear entirely.

Patrick Mahomes finished just 15-of-29 for 184 passing yards, one rushing touchdown and one interception. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire led the team in rushing with 54 yards over 14 attempts — just 3.9 yards per carry. The only player to eclipse 28 receiving yards was running back Darrel Williams, who finished with 60 total yards on 3 catches. The Chiefs were 5-of-12 on third down plays, and they finished with just 5.2 yards per play overall. Not good.

Still... the Chiefs exit Week 13 all alone atop the AFC West at 8-4; no other AFC team currently has a better record. All of the Chiefs’ goals remain squarely in front of them — and largely within their own control — but they will need better offensive production to make those dreams a reality.

Offensive Player of the Game: offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr.

This wasn’t an easy call to make; against the Broncos, no one really stood out in a positive way. In those situations, sometimes the best choices for a game ball is a player you didn’t notice.

Brown did have a highlight-worthy block or two — but more importantly, he did a good job keeping quarterback Mahomes clean. As a whole, the offensive line did a pretty solid job against a stout Denver defensive line.

Defense (Talon Graff)

The defense continued its high level of play, holding Denver to just nine points and forcing them off the field on four of the five first-half drives. In the second half, the defense picked off two Teddy Bridgewater passes, returning one for a touchdown. A late-fourth quarter Javonte Williams touchdown catch made the Broncos’ scoring somewhat respectable.

Melvin Ingram came out with a bang. On the first drive alone, he had a tackle-for-loss and was credited with half a sack. He finished the game with three total tackles and forced a couple pressures on Bridgewater. Ingram’s presence has clearly allowed the team’s pass rush to transform itself.

It’s now clear as day that Chris Jones belongs on the inside of the defensive line. To say the least, the way he can dominate from the interior is rare. He may not have the biggest numbers, but he impacts the game much more than when he lines up outside. Jarran Reed was also very active in the trenches, putting in one of his better performances as a Chief.

The linebackers were solid once again — led by Willie Gay Jr., who had eight tackles and one pass deflection. Gay’s improvement this season has made his immediate future with the organization a bright spot for Steve Spagnuolo’s squad. Anthony Hitchens and Nick Bolton also put in decent days.

The Denver running attack was without Melvin Gordon, which meant rookie Javonte Williams was the lead back for the first time in his career. He was a headache for the Chiefs’ defense, racking up 102 yards rushing and 76 through the air — including the touchdown catch. Chiefs fans should get used to seeing No. 33.

The secondary had a fantastic day, holding wide receivers Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick to a combined three catches and 24 receiving yards. None of the Denver receivers or tight ends found the end zone; Jerry Jeudy’s 77 yards were the most allowed by a single receiver. Dan Sorensen was able to make a heck of a play, returning his interception 75 yards for a score — while fellow safety Juan Thornhill also hauled in a pick.

As a whole, the defense allowed the Broncos to convert only four of 14 third-down attempts and stopped the Broncos on three fourth-down tries. Its improvement has been one thing — but during this five-game winning streak, the defensive unit’s consistency has been remarkable.

Defensive Player of the Game: Linebacker Willie Gay, Jr

The second-year linebacker is coming into his own. He was making plays all over the field and was integral on the fourth-down red zone stop that erased a 20-play drive. Recently, Gay has arguably been the Chiefs’ best linebacker — and there’s no reason to think that trend won’t continue.