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The good, bad and ugly from the Chiefs’ offense in win over Denver

While Kansas City’s offense showed flashes of brilliance, inconsistent play led to an ugly win.

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

Let's look back at the good, bad and ugly from the Kansas City Chiefs' 19-8 win over the Denver Broncos.

The good

Glancing at the box score, it would be easy to assume Kansas City blew Denver out of the water. The Chiefs put up 389 yards of total offense and were forced into only one three-and-out situation in the entire game. While the offense did sometimes stall out at the end of drives, there were still some positives.

The Patrick Mahomes-Travis Kelce connection was fantastic

Should we have expected anything less?

Five days after an ankle injury made even the most hardened Kansas City fans nervous, the Kansas City’s dynamic duo exploded against the Broncos. The team’s superstar tight end had nine receptions for 124 yards on nine targets. "Father Time" received some harsh pushback as Kelce put on a route-running clinic.

The reigning MVP quarterback was equally sharp, delivering every pass to Kelce on time — and with pinpoint accuracy.

Of Kelce’s 124 yards, just 47 were after the catch — most of them coming on a 40-yard catch-and-run. If the ankle was still bothering Kelce, Mahomes certainly did his part to help him — and football’s best tight end made sure to catch everything that came his way.

The outside running game is getting very good

The Chiefs’ pin-and-pull sweep is a new kind of explosive play the team has added to its offensive arsenal.

With offensive linemen who are arguably the league’s best space blockers, Kansas City’s offense is tailor-made to create chunk plays in the perimeter running game. Many have labeled running back Isiah Pacheco as a power runner — but with his explosive speed, these are the kinds of plays where we will most likely see him rip off his longest runs.

Rashee Rice showed up

For the first time all year, it looked like a wide receiver finally stepped up to take the reins.

Rice had a career-high four receptions for 72 yards — and showed off his ability to run in the open field. With 55 yards after the catch, he was excellent at catching short routes underneath the defense and burning his way up the field.

The bad

Unfortunately, these flashes of good play were mixed in with an equal amount of bad play. For example...

Multiple failures in short-yardage situations

As good as the Chiefs' offensive line and running backs have sometimes looked this season, they have often been hard to watch when only a few yards are needed. Thursday’s game was no different.

This season — when the Chiefs need between two and five yards for a first down — the team is averaging just 2.8 yards per play.

Most wide receivers struggled

Outside of Rice, Kansas City’s wide receivers couldn’t get going. Skyy Moore caught two of his four targets — and a few times, was even open downfield — but it was clear that Mahomes is still uncomfortable about throwing to him.

Kadarius Toney caught three passes and scored the Chiefs' only touchdown — but outside of that, he was stagnant. On reverses and other looks, the defense was ready to stop him.

Neither Marquez Valdes-Scantling or Justin Watson caught a pass — and each of them were targeted just once.

The ugly

When a team gains almost 400 yards — and scores just 19 points — it’s likely that some ugly stuff happened. And that’s what we saw.

Failures on third down

Heading into the game, the Chiefs were one of the league’s best third-down offenses. Apparently. nobody relayed this information to the Broncos. They held the Kansas City offense to a rancid four conversions on 13 attempts.

The Chiefs' short-yardage problems often became third-down incompetence.

On these critical downs, the team just seemed off — and while Denver deserves credit for its effort, it was often a matter of Kansas City failing to make the right play.

If Mahomes sits in the pocket for just one more tenth of a second on this play, Trey Smith could take care of the pressure coming from the right side — which in turn would give Mahomes a chance to see Noah Gray find the void in the zone. He has plenty of time to scramble — but with Kelce and Toney in the same vicinity, too many defenders are in the area; the passing lanes are closed.

Trick plays didn’t work

Against a woefully bad Broncos defense, I was hoping to see an offense that had yet to fully hit its stride come out and beat an inferior opponent. But as the offense struggled to maintain consistency, it tried running some plays that made it seem like the goal was to put on a show — rather than beat a bad football team.

While it was poorly called and executed, Toney's zone read — in theory — could have been a good idea; the Chiefs have used the concept in the past.

But as we see here, it was horrible from the moment the team broke the huddle. The awkward handoff to Clyde Edwards-Helaire does nothing to faze the defense. The poor timing on the pitch creates further issues, forcing Toney to take his attention away from downfield. The play is entirely too slow to develop, allowing rushers time to get through. And then to cap things off, Toney is nearly intercepted as throws to Jerick McKinnon in double coverage.

The bottom line

Trick plays are for bad teams — or for teams that know they’re good. I’m not going to say the Chiefs are a bad team.

But the Kansas City offense cannot figure out short-yardage situations — despite having the personnel to dominate in those situations. That same offense has multiple starting wide receivers that did not record a single reception on Thursday. And it’s the same offense that was so horrible on third downs that a bad Broncos team was able to stay in the game.

The Chiefs are a good team. But if they think they’re running a good offense, they need to look in the mirror.

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