It may have taken seven years, but the Kansas City Chiefs finally lost a game to the Denver Broncos. Their 24-9 defeat in Week 8 snaps their 16-game winning streak over Denver and represents their first loss to the team during the Patrick Mahomes era.
“Obviously, it was the worst I felt walking out of that stadium,” the Chiefs’ quarterback told reporters during his postgame press conference. “I mean, it’s a great environment, I actually have a lot of fun playing here. The fans are awesome, they enjoy the game, they know the game, but it is what it is. They beat us. They were the better football team today and I give them their props.”
The Chiefs star quarterback was far from his usual sharpness on Sunday afternoon. After throwing for over 400 yards and four touchdowns the previous week, Mahomes finished Week 8 with just 241 passing yards and no touchdowns. More importantly, he had three turnovers — two interceptions and one lost fumble — that contributed to the offense’s poor overall performance on the day.
The Broncos are SWARMING on Patrick Mahomes pic.twitter.com/3bMVwWufXT— NFL on CBS (@NFLonCBS) October 29, 2023
“I mean you’re trying to make something happen,” Mahomes said of his fourth-quarter pick on fourth-and 22. “We weren’t in the right situation as far as the score and then the down and distance. I was trying to make something happen back there, and I got caught turning too many times. The offensive line was doing everything they can to give me time. I just got to try to find a way to maneuver myself out of the pocket to get a throw downfield.”
Hours before the game, Mahomes was a late addition to the Chiefs’ injury report with an illness later revealed to be a stomach flu – a possible explanation for his poor performance. Mahomes said he felt symptoms as late as Saturday night, but he still attempted to do whatever he could to be ready for Sunday’s game.
“I just started feeling bad last night,” he admitted, “but I thought I bounced back pretty well in the morning. So, I just kind of tried to do whatever I can to go out there and play my best football.”
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid immediately rejected the idea that Mahomes’ illness warranted him sitting out Sunday’s matchup. While his quarterback struggled throughout the afternoon, Reid knows the illness is the last thing Mahomes would blame his bad performance on.
“He was okay,” Reid said of Mahomes. “I mean, he was sick, but he’s not going to use that as an excuse, and none of us will do that. He wasn’t feeling well, but he was able to do some good things out there.”
The more significant issue moving forward is how the Chiefs will counter the Broncos' gameplan, which will be replicated by other teams. While Denver was not overly productive on offense (240 total yards), they controlled time of possession by over seven minutes thanks to 153 yards on the ground. Their physical play kept Mahomes and the Chiefs offense off the field, preventing them from establishing any rhythm throughout the game.
“They played pretty much the same way they did last time they played us,” Mahomes noted. “It worked once, they ran it again, and it obviously worked again.”
The NFL is a copycat league, and Kansas City’s future opponents will inevitably use the film from both Denver games as a blueprint for slowing down the Chiefs offense. Mahomes knows that moving forward, the team needs to figure out how to beat this defense, especially as the competition gets better as the season marches on.
“You go back and watch the tape knowing that teams are going to replicate it and do different versions of it,” Mahomes explained. “We have to try to find answers for that. That’s the biggest thing. Obviously, they’ve seen two out of last three weeks, the Broncos were able to kind of stifle our offense and really just get after us as far as making us execute all way down the field. And so I’m sure other teams are going to watch that and we have to prove that we have answers for that. That will be something I’ll go back to the film and really try to pay attention to.”