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Broncos Game Grades: Ja'Quan McMillian makes his presence felt in a 24-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs

Henry Chisholm Avatar
November 1, 2023

DENVER, Colo. — The streak is over!

The Broncos took down the Chiefs 24-9 in a cold afternoon game at Empower Field at Mile High on Sunday. The win ends Denver’s 16-game losing streak to Kansas City that began in 2015. The Broncos improved their record to 3-5 entering their bye week.

Here’s how the Broncos graded out…



Russell Wilson: C+ — This grade might be too harsh, but Wilson made a few mistakes. He had two terrible throws to Jerry Jeudy on slants, one behind him and one spiked a few yards in front of him. He should have felt pressure coming on his strip sack and avoided it. 

Wilson’s stat line—12 completions on 19 attempts for 114 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions—is an efficient showing. But there was more out there on Sunday.

Running Backs

Javonte Williams: A- — Williams’ yards per carry is ugly, and his yards after contact per rush was the lowest mark of the season, but it’s hard to say he had a bad game. He carried the ball 27 times, a massive number for the NFL and his most in a game since high school. He picked up 98 yards from scrimmage, or 41% of the Broncos’ total. And he had a touchdown. His vision was spot-on, as always.

Javonte Williams looks to the referee to see if he scored a touchdown. Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Samaje Perine: B- — Most of Perine’s action came right before halftime. He caught a ball and picked up 10 yards. Then dropped a ball. Then caught a six-yarder. He also had a five-yard run and a great pickup of a blitzing Justin Reid in his 18 snaps.

Jaleel McLaughlin: A — McLaughlin maximized his opportunities again on Sunday. He converted a screen on the first third down of the game, when it looked like the play was doomed. He made half of the Chiefs defense miss on a 13-yard run. He picked up 33 yards on his four carries and six yards on his two catches. That’s pretty good for only being on the field for eight plays.

Michael Burton: C+ — Burton earned his heaviest workload of the season—14 snaps—but didn’t touch the ball. He had a good pickup in pass protection on the deep ball to Courtland Sutton. He couldn’t quite set the edge on a power run, but he was given a tough assignment trying to get wide enough to make the block.

Wide Receivers

Courtland Sutton: B — Sutton made up for a horrible offensive pass interference with a drawn pass interference that picked up 18 yards. He caught a touchdown, but his only other catch was a great 23-yard jump ball up the sideline.

Russell Wilson and Courtland Sutton celebrate their touchdown. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Jerry Jeudy: A- — Jeudy made a great play on a jump ball 39 yards downfield, and then punched in an 11-yard touchdown a few plays later. He didn’t do anything else the rest of the day, but he was open often.

Lil’Jordan Humphrey: C — Humphrey made a couple of great blocks—both of them on passes to running backs—but a receiver’s grade can only be so high without any targets. Humphrey ran 15 routes.

Marvin Mims Jr.: B — Mims ran 15 routes but only had one pass thrown his direction, and it was a throwaway. A 31-yard punt return helps his grade tremendously.

Tight Ends

Adam Trautman: C+ — Trautman didn’t create much separation in the passing game, but he drew a holding penalty in the third quarter. He generally did his job as a blocker, like on a nine-yard screen in the fourth quarter. When he missed a block on a third-down screen earlier in the game, the Broncos still converted.

Chris Manhertz: C+ — Manhertz was on the field for 39 plays but didn’t have any highlights or lowlights. He got rolled up on once but wasn’t injured, and that was probably the most eventful moment of his day.

Nate Adkins: B — Adkins made the crucial block on Jaleel McLaughlin’s third-down screen on one of his four plays in the game.

Offensive Linemen

Garett Bolles reacts after the game. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Garett Bolles: D — Bolles is having a great season, but he had a tough game on Sunday. The low point was the strip sack he gave up before halftime. You could credit him with two more sacks, but one was a tough break because the quarterback was chased in his direction and his man just had to separate to make the play, and the other was on a miscommunication on a stunt and either lineman could be at fault.

Bolles had his moments, like a pancake on Javonte Williams’ screen touchdown, but the sacks are the story.

Ben Powers: B+ — Powers had a couple of really good pull blocks. One was on a 1st & 15 run in the third quarter and the other was shortly later to help a 10-yard run from deep inside the Broncos’ own territory. He was at least partially responsible for a miscommunication on a sack in the fourth quarter.

Ben Powers and Javonte Williams celebrate Williams’ touchdown. Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Lloyd Cushenberry III: B- — Cusenberry’s grade depends on how much you weight the blocked field goal. Cushenberry was on the edge of the formation and was responsible for blocking the defender who got his hand on the ball. Cushenberry thought the defender left early—and was probably right—so he stayed in his stance and pointed the offsides out to the refs. But the refs didn’t give him the call, so the kick was blocked. 

Outside of that play, Cushenberry was probably the Broncos’ best lineman on Sunday. He might have earned an A.

Quinn Meinerz: B — Meinerz wasn’t as clean as he typically is in space and he was probably responsibly for a sack on a stunt in the second quarter. But he played well the rest of the game. Chris Jones knocked him a step backwards on a couple of plays, but he mostly imposed his will in the running game.

Mike McGlinchey: B — McGlinchey put together his best performance in recent weeks, especially in pass protection. He wasn’t flawless, and a penalty bailed him out of a sack, but he only allowed three pressures. He gave up a run stuff after halftime and a tackle for loss later in the game, but was generally good in the running game, too.


Defensive Linemen

DJ Jones: B — Jones should have earned a half sack early in the second quarter, but the play was negated by a penalty downfield. He made a couple of strong plays in the running game despite finishing with only one tackle.

Zach Allen: A — Allen was in the backfield all day, but he only earned a half sack. He should’ve gotten another, but a penalty negated the play. His tackle for loss came in the red zone and was a key part of holding the Chiefs to a field goal on their second drive.

Zach Allen and Justin Simmons talk in the fourth quarter. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Purcell: C+ — Purcell was moved out of his place a little too easily on a couple of occasions, but he also plugged up a couple of runs. He also had a hit on Patrick Mahomes.

Jonathan Harris: C — Harris got a little push up the middle that maybe contributed to the strip sack before halftime. That might be a stretch. The other time he collapsed the pocket, Patrick Mahomes escaped for a first down. Other than those plays, Harris was quiet.

Matt Henningsen: D — The second-year seventh-rounder had a tough day. He missed two tackles—including one on a Patrick Mahomes scramble that picked up a first down—and didn’t make one. 

Outside Linebackers

Baron Browning: A+ — A strip sack. A late-fourth-quarter sack. A blown up shovel pass to set up a fourth down inside the five. Browning was electric from start to finish.

Jonathon Cooper: A — Cooper’s fumble recovery before halftime changed the complexion of the game. He also split a sack on the Chiefs’ desperation drive at the end of the game. When Mahomes threw the final pick, it was because Cooper was all over him. Cooper was also stout in the run game, including when he collapsed the first play of the game.

Nik Bonitto: B+ — Bonitto was in the backfield all day, but didn’t come up with a sack. He got his hand on Patrick Mahomes twice but didn’t bring him down either time. His best play was when he hit Mahomes’ arm as he threw and forced a third-down incompletion in the fourth quarter. His second best was when he helped with a tackle for loss on a screen on the second drive.

Ronnie Perkins: C+ — Perkins played 25 snaps and came away with one tackle. He should have drawn a holding call at the end of the third quarter, but somehow the refs didn’t see the play.

Inside Linebackers

Alex Singleton celebrates in the fourth quarter. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Singleton: B — Singleton’s tackle for loss on a screen is negated by a bad angle on a 39-yard catch that should have gone for 10 yards or so. Skyy Moore got him for eight yards on a double move. Travis Kelce got him on a drag for 19 yards. 

Josey Jewell: A — Jewell’s forced fumble was his highlight play, but he should have had another. He had a third-down sack in the third quarter, but a holding penalty negated the play. It was the second time he was burned by a ghost holding call against Travis Kelce. The first was when he was in perfect coverage on Kelce but the tight end flopped and the ref bailed the Chiefs out.

Josey Jewell forces a fumble. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports


Pat Surtain II: A- — Surtain mostly played a great game but made a couple of mistakes. He gave up a catch on a scramble drill in the fourth quarter but was able to make the tackle short of the sticks. The Chiefs converted the fourth and short though. A few plays later he broke up a pass on the sideline. He was also called for a hold just before halftime.

Fabian Moreau: B- — A bad holding call when he was in coverage on Travis Kelce dings his grade. So does a weak tackle in space that cost five yards and a chance to get off the field. Kelce also beat him on an out route for an 11-yard gain. But giving up a few modest gains is the expectation for a starting cornerback. A pass breakup before halftime was Moreau’s best play.

Ja’Quan McMilian: A+ — Two TFLs. A great read on an interception. What more could you ask for? (Other than a PBU on a ball to the tight end in the fourth quarter that looked like it went right through his arm.)

Ja’Quan McMillian celebrates his interception. Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Damarri Mathis: C- — Mathis was on the field for eight plays and two of them stand out. One was when he was too shallow on an out route and Patrick Mahomes dropped a ball over his head. The other was when he was in great coverage downfield and Justin Simmons picked a desperation heave off.

Damarri Mathis was in tight coverage, which allowed Justin Simmons to intercept the pass. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports


Justin Simmons: A+ — Fumble recovery. Game-ending interception. A+.

Russell Wilson and Justin Simmons after the game. Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

PJ Locke: C- — This grade might be too generous. Locke let a receiver gain two steps on him in the end zone on a fourth down, but the receiver couldn’t hold onto the ball. On a 3rd & 5, he was a step or two behind another receiver downfield, but Patrick Mahomes missed. Either one of those plays would have tanked his grade if the Chiefs had converted.

Locke missed a tackle to start the second drive and turned a three-yard gain into a 19-yard gain. He got caught on a pick play to Travis Kelce on 4th & 1 in the fourth quarter. A different tight end ot away from him for a 17-yard gain on a crosser a couple of plays later.

Special Teams

Wil Lutz: B — Lutz’s field goal streak came to an end, but there was nothing he could do to avoid the block. He was three-for-three on his extra points.

Riley Dixon: C — Dixon’s average remained low at 41.5 yards, but one of his punts landed inside the 10.

Tremon Smith: A+ — Smith hit the punt returner after he muffed the punt to ensure he couldn’t fall on the ball. He also had great tackles on the final punt and final kickoff for the Broncos.

Smith has been stellar all season and should gain consideration for the AFC’s special teams spot in the Pro Bowl.

Drew Sanders: A — Maybe this is a “right place, right time” situation, but credit to the rookie for falling on the muffed punt.

Drew Sanders after his fumble recovery. Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports


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