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Final score: Chiefs blow 27-point lead, hang on to survive 34-28 in Denver

Kansas City survives a scare to defeat Denver for the 14th straight time, getting to 10-3 on the season.

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

With less than three minutes left in the first half, it looked like a beatdown-in-progress as the 9-3 Kansas City Chiefs built up a 27-0 lead over the 3-9 Denver Broncos. But then a Broncos’ offense that had scored at least 21 points in only two games this season made it interesting, taking advantage of two Patrick Mahomes interceptions to score 21 unanswered points. But in the end, Kansas City held on — extending its winning streak over Denver to 14 games with a 34-28 win that extended their record to 10-3.


First quarter

The Broncos won the opening coin toss, choosing to defer their decision to the second half. That gave Kansas City the ball first, starting at the 25-yard line after a touchback.

The Chiefs’ passing game made it look easy out of the gate, getting 29 yards on two quick completions to wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and running back Isiah Pacheco. Two plays later, a short pass to tight end Noah Gray gained 17 yards. From just outside the red zone, the Chiefs stalled — in part due to left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. being called for a false start. A pass to Smith-Schuster couldn’t get to the sticks on third-and-15; Kansas City settled for a field goal to take an early 3-0 lead.

Denver looked to attack on the first play of their opening drive, with quarterback Russell Wilson unloading deep for a big play — but cornerback Trent McDuffie was right there to cause an incompletion — and nearly intercepted it. They went on to convert a third-and-9 and then converted two more third downs that both featured soft tackling efforts. But a sack by safety Juan Thornhill set Denver back — and Kansas City finally forced a punt.

The Chiefs’ second drive started off hot, with a record-setting 38-yard completion to tight end Travis Kelce that put Kansas City up in Denver territory. After two incompletions, a third down had a great chance to be converted, but a quick pass to wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling was high. The Chiefs settled for a field goal — and a 6-0 lead.

The Kansas City defense continued to set Denver back, getting their second sack on first down when defensive end Mike Danna burst through and finished the pressure. On third-and-16, Wilson scrambled to the sideline — but was well short of the line to gain. Denver punted for the second time.

As the first quarter came to a close, Mahomes found Kelce on two straight plays to gain 22 yards get near midfield.

Second quarter

Facing a third down on the second play of the third quarter, Mahomes was forced to scramble right before dishing a no-look shovel pass to running back Jerick McKinnon, who pulled it in and took it 56 yards for a touchdown. The highlight-reel play gave the Chiefs a 13-0 lead.

The Broncos’ offense continued to be completely inept on the next drive, stumbling into third-and-5 — when defensive tackle Chris Jones dropped Wilson for the team’s third sack of the day. Denver punted for the third straight time.

Kansas City started with 12 yards of rushing by Pacheco on back-to-back plays. After barely overthrowing an open Kelce on the sideline, Mahomes found Smith-Schuster — but the wideout could not hang on; the play was ruled incomplete after a Kansas City challenge. They converted the ensuing third down anyway, using a screen to McKinnon to gain 24 yards and get into Denver territory.

From there, the running game pushed the Chiefs further; Pacheco gained 19 yards on three carries that helped get into the red zone. A third down was converted with a quick pass to Smith-Schuster — then another screen pass to McKinnon finished off the touchdown drive. The running back’s second score gave Kansas City a 20-0 lead.

Trying to shrink the lead before halftime, Denver pushed past midfield with help from a 20-yard gain by running back Mike Boone. A few plays later, they faced third-and-2 — and defensive end Frank Clark helped stuff the run. Denver went for it, but a play-action passes ended up in the hands of linebacker Willie Gay Jr., who returned the tipped-and-secured interception for a 47-yard touchdown returen. The Chiefs had a 27-0 lead with four minutes to go in the first half.

The Broncos couldn’t get anything going on their attempt to rebound from the pick-six; three straight dropbacks earned only a yard, leading to another punt. It was Kansas City defense’s third forced three-and-out.

Two snaps into the Chiefs’ next drive, Mahomes fired a pass to Kelce over the middle — but linebacker Josey Jewell dove into its path and intercepted it.

Staring at the Kansas City 42-yard line, Denver got near the red zone with a 17-yard slant to wide receiver Jerry Jeudy. Out of the two-minute warning, Jeudy was targeted once again — this time on a fade route over cornerback Joshua Williams. He caught it for an 18-yard score, tightening the score to 27-7.

With just over 90 seconds remaining in the half, the Chiefs were hoping to score before intermission — but a sack quickly forced Kansas City into a third-and-7. From there, Mahomes beat the blitz and found Smith-Schuster for a catch-and-run completion to gain 20 yards. Two plays later, an off-balance throw was low and away from the intended receiver — but cornerback Patrick Surtain scooped it up and secured it for Mahomes’ second interception of the game.

Getting the ball back with over a minute left, Wilson scrambled into the red zone with 30 seconds remaining. A chunk gain through the air got Denver inside the five-yard line with 14 ticks on the clock. A play later, Wilson operated from a clean pocket and found Jeudy in the end zone, cutting their deficit to 13 points. The Chiefs went into halftime with 27-14 lead.

Third quarter

The Broncos started their first possession of the second half at the 25-yard line after a touchback.

The Broncos got going with a 14-yard completion to Jeudy that helped overcome a 2nd and 15. Defensive end George Karlaftis got a hustle sack on the next play — but it didn’t matter when the next play was a well-timed screen to beat a Chiefs blitz. Running back Marlon Mack used the open space and ran 66 yards for a touchdown. The big play cut the Chiefs’ lead to 27-21.

Kansas City looked to answer, but couldn’t follow up a five-yard run with anything positive. Mahomes couldn’t find any open passing lanes on third down, holding the ball until a back-side rusher sacked him to end the drive.

The Chiefs’ defense looked to step up and stop the bleeding, forcing a third and 11 right off the bat; Gay and Danna blew up a screen to force it. The Broncos gained 10 yards on the conversion attempt, thanks to a missed tackle by Thornhill. Denver decided to punt anyways.

The Chiefs struggled to get going on their next drive, stumbling into fourth and one after an incompletion on third and one. The coaching staff elected not to go for it, punting away for the second time in as many possessions.

The Broncos had a chance to take a lead, but Kansas City’s pass rush did its best to prevent that. On back-to-back plays, the unit earned sacks — with linebacker Darius Harris, defensive end Frank Clark, and defensive tackle Brandon Williams all contributing. It led to a quick punt.

Mahomes came out firing on this drive, barely missing Watson on a deep pattern to start — but then throwing to Kelce and tight end Noah Gray to get deep into Denver territory. Then, the team’s leading receiver on the day added to his total: McKinnon took a dump off inside the 10-yard line with a 19-yard gain.

On third and goal, a scrambling Mahomes eventually found Smith-Schuster in the back of the end zone — releasing the ball as he was sandwiched between rushers. The completion pushed the Chiefs’ lead to 34-21.

Denver ran two plays, moving the chains once before the break.

Fourth quarter

To start the final period, Denver faced a fourth down — converting when a deep, underthrown incompletion was negated with a pass-interference penalty on cornerback Trent McDuffie. The next play featured a holding call, setting Denver back in a first and 20. Another holding call set them back even further, although they gained some back to face third and 11. From the 16-yard line, WIlson scrambled and got the first down — then went down hard at the one-yard line.

With backup quarterback Brett Rypien in, Denver couldn’t get into the end zone through third and goal — where a pressure by Clark forced the incompletion. On fourth and goal, Rypien found Jeudy running past cornerback Jaylen Watson to the back of the end zone for a score. The latest touchdown for the Broncos’ pass game tightened the score to 34-28.

Two quick passes got the Chiefs to a third and one to start their next drive — but the predictable fullback dive was stuffed when called. On fourth down, Kansas City punted away from their own 34-yard line.

Having to start from their own five-yard line, Denver couldn’t claw themselves out of the hole — nearly giving the Chiefs the ball on an aborted fumble. Instead, Denver simply punted away from deep in their own territory.

The Chiefs had great field position, but still found themselves in third and 4 quickly. Mahomes looked to thread the needle for a first down — but the window was too tight; Jewell picked off the Chiefs’ quarterback for the second time, giving Denver the ball with five minutes to go in the game.

With a chance to take the lead, the Broncos began with two short gains — setting up third and 3; on the pass attempt, Chris Jones disrupted the release and allowed cornerback L’Jarius Sneed to intercept the pass in punt-like fashion.

The Chiefs had a chance to kill the clock with four minutes to go and a six-point lead. The run game moved the chains twice, but the big play was a 20-yard completion to Valdes-Scantling on third down; Mahomes scrambled out of pressure to find the open receiver.

Out of the two-minute warning, the Chiefs looked to convert from second and 10 at the Broncos’ 44-yard line. Pacheco took an inside handoff and ran over safety Kareem Jackson to gain a first down and effectively end the game. A few kneel downs later, the Chiefs emerged winners by a score of 34-28.


Special Teams


Kicker Harrison Butker converted his first field-goal attempt, from 35 yards out in the first quarter. Later in the same period, he made a 45-yard field goal. He converted all four of his extra-point attempts.

Punter Tommy Townsend’s first punt came in the third quarter, booting a 76-yard kick for a touchback. His second punt traveled 62 yards — then his third landed inside the five-yard line.

Wide receiver Justin Watson had four punt returns, totaling 22 yards with the longest being seven. He also fair caught a punt.

Cornerback Chris Lammons was called for a holding on a punt return in the third quarter.


Statistics


CATEGORY KC DEN
Total Yards 431 320
Total Plays 67 69
Yards per play 6.4 4.6
Rushing Yards 89 106
Rush Attempts 23 19
Yards per rush 3.90 5.60
Passing Gross Yards 352 263
Sacks/Yards lost 2/10 6/49
Passing Net Yards 342 214
Comp/Att/Pct 28/42/67% 27/44/61%
Yards per pass 7.80 4.30
Interceptions thrown 3 2
Fumbles lost 0 0
Turnovers 3 2
Penalties/Yards 4/70 6/38
Total Drives 13 13
First downs 20 17
Rushing first downs 5 6
Passing first downs 15 10
Penalty first downs 0 1
Third down (Made/Att/Pct) 6/12/50% 6/17/35%
Fourth down (Made/Att/Pct) 0/0/0% 1/2/50%
Goal to go (Made/Att/Pct) 2/2/100% 2/2/100%
Red Zone (Made/Att/Pct) 2/3/67% 3/3/100%
Touchdowns 4 4
TDs/Rushing 0 0
TDs/Passing 3 4
TDs/Interception 1 0
TDs/Kickoff Return 0 0
TDs/Fumble Return 0 0
TDs/Punt Return 0 0
TDs/Defense/ST 1 0
Safeties 0 0
Extra Points (Made/Att) 4/4 4/4
Field Goals (Made/Att) 2/2 0/0
Two-Point Conv (Made/Att) 0/0 0/0
Kickoffs (Num/EZ/TB) 7/7/6 5/5/5
Punts (Num/Yds) 3/199 7/333
Gross Punting Avg Yds 66.3 47.6
Net Punting Avg Yds 52.7 41.6
Total Rtn Yds (No KOs) 75 42
Punt Returns (Num/Yds) 4/22 1/21
Kickoff Returns (Num/Yds) 0/0 1/29
Int Returns (Num/Yds) 2/53 3/21
Punts blocked 0 0
FGs/PATs Blocked 0/0 0/0
Timeouts (Rem/Used) 2/1 0/3
Time of Possession 30:13 29:47
Attendance - 76,072

CHIEFS PASSING C ATT YDS AVG TD LG INT SK SKYD RTG
Patrick Mahomes 28 42 352 8.4 3 56t 3 2 10 86.6
TEAM 28 42 352 8.4 3 56T 3 2 10 --

BRONCOS PASSING C ATT YDS AVG TD LG INT SK SKYD RTG
Brett Rypien 4 8 16 2.0 1 7t 1 0 0 56.2
Russell Wilson 23 36 247 6.9 3 66t 1 6 49 100.1
TEAM 27 44 263 6.0 4 66T 2 6 49 --

CHIEFS RUSHING CAR YDS AVG TD LG
Isiah Pacheco 13 70 5.4 0 10
Jerick McKinnon 6 22 3.7 0 7
Patrick Mahomes 3 -3 -1.0 0 -1
Michael Burton 1 0 0.0 0 0
TEAM 23 89 3.9 0 10

BRONCOS RUSHING CAR YDS AVG TD LG
Latavius Murray 8 32 4.0 0 8
Russell Wilson 4 57 14.3 0 19
Marlon Mack 3 15 5.0 0 6
Mike Boone 3 2 0.7 0 1
Brett Rypien 1 0 0.0 0 0
TEAM 19 106 5.6 0 19

CHIEFS RECEIVING REC YDS AVG TD LG TGTS YAC
Travis Kelce 4 71 17.8 0 37 9 46
Jerick McKinnon 7 112 16.0 2 56t 9 130
JuJu Smith-Schuster 9 74 8.2 1 20 11 35
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 1 20 20.0 0 20 3 1
Justin Watson 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
Noah Gray 3 45 15.0 0 25 3 29
Isiah Pacheco 3 23 7.7 0 17 3 31
Skyy Moore 1 7 7.0 0 7 2 1
TEAM 28 352 12.6 3 56T 42 273

BRONCOS RECEIVING REC YDS AVG TD LG TGTS YAC
Brandon Johnson 0 0 0 0 0 4 0
Eric Saubert 1 2 2.0 0 2 2 3
Jalen Virgil 1 9 9.0 0 9 1 3
Eric Tomlinson 2 11 5.5 0 7 3 7
Mike Boone 2 27 13.5 0 20 2 14
Marlon Mack 2 62 31.0 1 66t 3 73
Latavius Murray 3 -1 -0.3 0 2 5 11
Greg Dulcich 3 42 14.0 0 23 8 20
Kendall Hinton 5 38 7.6 0 14 6 20
Jerry Jeudy 8 73 9.1 3 18t 9 29
TEAM 27 263 9.7 4 66T 43 180

CHIEFS FUMBLES FUM LOST FF REC
(OWN)
TD REC
(OPP)
TD
TEAM 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

BRONCOS FUMBLES FUM LOST FF REC
(OWN)
TD REC
(OPP)
TD
Brett Rypien 1 0 0 1 0 0 0
TEAM 1 0 0 1 0 0 0

CHIEFS DEFENSE TOT SOLO ASST SACK YDS INT TFL PD QBH TD FF FR
Nick Bolton 9 4 5 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
Juan Thornhill 7 5 2 1.0 8.0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0
L'Jarius Sneed 7 3 4 0.0 0.0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0
Willie Gay 5 5 0 0.0 0.0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0
Justin Reid 4 3 1 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Chris Jones 4 4 0 1.0 8.0 0 1 1 2 0 0 0
George Karlaftis 3 1 2 1.0 4.0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0
Mike Danna 3 1 2 1.0 9.0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0
Jaylen Watson 3 1 2 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Joshua Williams 3 1 2 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Darius Harris 3 0 3 0.5 7.0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
Carlos Dunlap II 2 1 1 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Leo Chenal 2 1 1 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Khalen Saunders 2 1 1 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Derrick Nnadi 2 1 1 0.0 0.0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Brandon Williams 1 0 1 0.5 7.0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0
Bryan Cook 1 1 0 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Frank Clark 1 1 0 1.0 6.0 0 1 0 2 0 0 0
Trent McDuffie 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
TEAM 62 34 28 5 49 2 7 7 11 0 0 0

BRONCOS DEFENSE TOT SOLO ASST SACK YDS INT TFL PD QBH TD FF FR
Josey Jewell 10 9 1 0.0 0.0 2 0 2 0 0 0 0
Kareem Jackson 10 7 3 0.0 0.0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Alex Singleton 6 2 4 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Damarri Mathis 5 5 0 0.0 0.0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Justin Simmons 5 4 1 0.0 0.0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Dre'Mont Jones 5 1 4 1.0 3.0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0
K'Waun Williams 4 2 2 0.0 0.0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Jonathan Harris 4 2 2 0.0 0.0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Mike Purcell 4 1 3 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jonathon Cooper 2 1 1 1.0 7.0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0
Pat Surtain II 2 1 1 0.0 0.0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0
Jake Martin 1 1 0 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Baron Browning 1 0 1 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0
DeShawn Williams 1 0 1 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Nik Bonitto 1 0 1 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Brett Rypien 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
TEAM 61 36 25 2 10 3 5 5 5 0 0 1

CHIEFS INT INT YDS AVG LG TD
L'Jarius Sneed 1 6 6.0 6 0
Willie Gay 1 47 47.0 47 1
TEAM 2 53 26.5 47 1

BRONCOS INT INT YDS AVG LG TD
Pat Surtain II 1 0 0.0 0 0
Josey Jewell 2 21 10.5 21 0
TEAM 3 21 7.0 21 0

CHIEFS KICK RET NO YDS AVG LG TD
TEAM 0 0 0 0 0

BRONCOS KICK RET NO YDS AVG LG TD
Montrell Washington 1 29 29.0 29 0
TEAM 1 29 29.0 29 0

CHIEFS PUNT RET NO YDS AVG LG TD
Justin Watson 4 22 5.5 7 0
TEAM 4 22 5.5 7 0

BRONCOS PUNT RET NO YDS AVG LG TD
Montrell Washington 1 21 21.0 21 0
TEAM 1 21 21.0 21 0

CHIEFS KICKING FGM/FGA PCT LONG XP PTS
Harrison Butker 2/2 100.0 45 3 9
TEAM 2/2 100.0 45 3 9

BRONCOS KICKING FGM/FGA PCT LONG XP PTS
TEAM 0/0 0.0 0 0 0

CHIEFS PUNTING NO YDS AVG TB I20 LG
Tommy Townsend 3 199 66.3 1 1 76
TEAM 3 199 66.0 1 1 76

BRONCOS PUNTING NO YDS AVG TB I20 LG
Corliss Waitman 7 333 47.6 1 0 51
TEAM 7 333 47.0 1 0 51

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