Broncos hold close but can't beat Chiefs

Henry Chisholm Avatar
October 28, 2018

The Chiefs left the door open for a Denver comeback, Saturday afternoon, but Case Keenum’s offense didn’t take advantage.

The Broncos lost 30-23 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. The loss drops Denver’s record to 3-5 and leaves the Chiefs atop the AFC standings at 7-1.

The Broncos’defense seemed to have the answer for Patrick Mahomes early. The Chiefs’offense went three-and-out on their first possession after Bradley Chubb bottled up an option for a loss and then combined with Von Miller to pressure Mahomes on 3rd-and-10. But the Denver defense was unable to back up its hot start.

While Chubb and Miller generated a pass rush early, they were virtually nonexistent until they combined for a sack in the fourth quarter.  Mahomes was free to stand in the pocket as long as he wanted and the Broncos’defensive backs couldn’t stick to the Chiefs’receivers long enough to force incompletions. Mahomes finished the day with 303 yards on 24 of 34 passing with four touchdowns and an interception. Denver’s defense surrendered 70-plus-yard receiving days to three Chiefs, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins, who went for 107.

Offensively, the Broncos produced consistently for most of the game. After a first-possession three-and-out, Denver put together an eight-play, 80-yard drive, relying primarily on a strong running game and a 49-yard reception from Emmanuel Sanders, to take a 7-0 lead. Sanders caught four balls for  57  yards.

On their next possession, the Broncos had a chance to take a 10-3 lead, but Brandon couldn’t close out the 11-play drive, notching his first missed field goal attempt of the year from 55 yards out. After a 40-yard catch-and-run from Tyreek Hill brought the Chiefs into the red zone, Kareem Hunt capped the series with a 5-yard touchdown run, giving the Chiefs a three-point lead.

After another touchdown drive from the Chiefs—it featured an 18-yard pass to Kelce, a 24-yard pass to Sammy Watkins and a 13-yard touchdown to Watkins—the Broncos responded with a touchdown of their own, despite gaining possession with less than a minute in the half. A back-shoulder pass to Courtland Sutton set the Broncos up at the KC 24 and Keenum found Tim Patrick alone in the end zone with five seconds left, lessening the deficit to 16-14.

But Kansas City came out of halftime with an 83-yard touchdown drive to take a nine-point lead, and the Broncos responded by losing nine yards on the following series and handing the ball right back. Phil Lindsay broke a 23-yard run, but it was called back due to a holding penalty. It was the second time a 20-plus-yard Lindsay run was called back.

The Chiefs took over at the Denver 32 following a shanked punt by Colby Wadman, and four plays later scored a touchdown. Kansas City ran a triple-option on 4th-and-1, and Mahomes threw a shovel pass up to Kareem Hunt who carried the ball through the middle of the line and 23 yards farther into the end zone. The Chiefs led 30-14 with five minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Denver wound down the quarter with a 12-play, 75-yard drive, nickel and diming their way down the field with a strong combination of run and pass. Keenum found Sanders for 16 yards, Sutton for 21 and Jeff Heuerman on 4th-and-goal for a four-yard touchdown. Denver failed on the two-point conversion, leaving the deficit at 30-20.

After a fairly high-scoring first 46-minutes of the game, the defenses won out in the fourth. The Broncos picked off Mahomes, but Keenum fumbled the ball right back on a Dee Ford strip-sack. The Broncos forced another stop at midfield, but Keenum threw an interception to Kendall Fuller near midfield. Kansas City went three-and-out, then Denver, then Kansas City again.

When the Broncos took over at their own 36 with four minutes remaining in the game, Case Keenum pushed his squad into the red zone but settled for a field goal. His day ended with 262 passing yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

With less than two minutes on the clock and only one timeout left in their pocket, the Broncos were forced to try an onside kick. It failed, and despite forcing a three-and-out, Denver only had time for one play once they got the ball back.

The Broncos tried to put together a miracle pitch play, but it faltered 15 seconds in when Sanders threw the ball over Sutton’s head and out of bounds near the line of scrimmage.

Sutton was the Broncos’ leading receiver with three catches on four targets for 78 yards.

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Phil Lindsay saw an uptick in his workload on Sunday and responded well. He carried the ball 18 times and managed 95 yards, giving him an average of five-plus yards per carry in six of eight games. The rookie’s longest run of the day (outside of two huge gains lost to penalty) was just 14 yards, which highlights the consistency Lindsay contributed to the Broncos’ offense. Lindsay also caught three passes for 17 yards.

PLAY OF THE GAME

Down 16-7, the Broncos had time for one more shot to the end zone before settling for a field goal. Case Keenum dropped back to pass from 24 yards out and found Tim Patrick alone in the end zone, for Patrick’s first career touchdown. The Broncos pulled within two points, giving Denver a chance in the second half.

QUOTE OF THE GAME

“Are we playing smart football against the best teams? We’re not.” – Vance Joseph

BY THE NUMBERS

3 – 20-yard Broncos plays called back for penalties

10 – penalties on the Broncos

96 – first-half rushing yards for the Broncos

WHAT’S NEXT

The Broncos return home next Sunday for their last game before their Week 10 bye. They’ll host the Houston Texans, who’ve won five straight games after losing their first three contests of the season. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:05 p.m.

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