KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Broncos had to make a takeaway, but couldn’t. They had to gather Patrick Mahomes during one of his out-of-pocket adventures, but they couldn’t. And they had to play a second half of perfect football to win as an underdog with two touchdowns, but they couldn’t.
Kansas City’s streak on the life of the Broncos.
The Chiefs scored only one touchdown, but combined with four field goals, they did enough to survive the Broncos 22-16 Sunday night at Arrowhead Stadium.
“We gave ourselves a chance to win, but didn’t finish,” said Broncos coach Vic Fangio. “We just had to do a little bit more, both coaches and players.”
The Broncos defense was slightly out in the red zone during the first half, but missed the game-swinging play.
And the Broncos attack got 131 yards from running away from Melvin Gordon and two touchdown catches from receiver Tim Patrick, but went kick, kick, interception in the fourth quarter. Their hopes ended with quarterback Drew Lock’s fourth interception with 33 seconds to go.
Mahomes… and receiver Tyreek Hill… and tight Travis Kelce… and, shoot, the whole depth map, made enough plays to defeat the Broncos for the 11th consecutive time.
However, this game was different from Fangio’s first three encounters against the Chiefs – losing 24 and 20 points last year and 27 points in October.
The Broncos led 10-9 at half time and 16-12 late in the third quarter, but they forgot Noah Fant’s tight end, saw receiver Jerry Jeudy catch just one pass and had a pass for the third and third with still six minutes to go. recipient KJ Hamler.
Fangio chose to kick instead of going for fourth. By the time the Broncos got it back, there was only 1:04 left and needed a touchdown.
“I thought about it carefully, but at some point in the game we had to stop and we couldn’t,” said Fangio. “In hindsight I probably should have gone for it.”
The Broncos (4-8) have reached their fourth consecutive non-winning season and are moving out of the playoffs for a fifth consecutive year.
There are no medals for trying in the NFL, but the Broncos should gain some confidence that the wide gap between the two franchises may have closed a bit earlier this year.
“The reality is, you feel like you’re going to (only) close the gap if you beat them,” Lock said. “There are never any feel-good losses in this competition. We’ve played them closer than before, but what’s in it for you? Nothing. An upset dressing room. A sad flight home. ”
The defeat did not come from the thunderbolts that Mahomes usually delivered to the Broncos, but from a hundred different cuts on paper. Scramble a third. A throw with hind legs under pressure. A down-the-line option suite.
That’s the problem with the Chiefs. They have so many weapons, so many games, so many Mahomes arm corners that the smallest little problem – at every stage of the game – will turn out to be precious.
The Broncos lived dangerously in the first three quarters, which allowed Kansas City to move within 20 before the defense bowed.
At various times it seemed that the Chiefs were ready to take control. They kicked off the second half in the Broncos’ red zone, but went back to Harrison Butker (31-yard field goal) when the drive came to a stop.
Would the Broncos react the way they have for most of the year? A three-and-out? A punishment? A turnover?
No. The Broncos converted two-thirds downs and re-took the lead after Patrick’s second touchdown catch of the game (10 yards).
The Chiefs answered with a 7-play, 75-yard drive, capped by Mahomes ’20-yard touchdown to Kelce. Mahomes kept possession alive with a third-and-7 scramble.
The Chiefs appeared to be putting the game on Mahomes’ rainbow 48-yard touchdown pass to Hill, who ended up behind cornerback substitute Duke Dawson. But left-wing guard Nick Allegretti was called to be detained. Kansas City kicked with 9:49 left, but the Broncos kicked it back after reaching their 48 and the aforementioned failed third-and-3 conversion.
It didn’t start well for the Broncos. Two plays after Fant’s catch and run of 37 yards, Lock did well to avoid an unblocked blitzer from his blindside, but in his rush to create a play, he forced a throw to tight end Troy Fumagalli 24 yards downfield that is semi-easily intercepted by security Tyrann Mathieu.
From then on, however, it was a productive first half for Lock, whose last race last month was a four-intercept debacle in Las Vegas.
The priority was offensive clear from the hop: add Fant. It was as if the Broncos offensive coaches glanced at the Kansas City game video and said, “We should be putting on some of these Travis Kelce plays for Noah.” Regardless of the reasoning, Fant was attacked seven times in the first half (four catches-57 yards) and would have been the big subplot in the first half, except for Gordon.
Gordon fell downfield for a 65-yard gain. Three times later, on the second and goal of the 5, Lock moved to the left, hitting Patrick for a touchdown and a 10-3 lead.
Despite all their good work in the first half, the Broncos escaped with a 10-9 lead going into half time. Brandon McManus missed a 57-yard field goal, giving the Chiefs field position (own 47) and time (28 seconds). Kansas City, however, wasted precious seconds as Hill started running east to west and had to settle for Butker’s third field goal (23 yards).
“Brandon is clearly one of our best weapons,” said Fangio. “I fully recognized and understood at the time that if he missed it, where they would get the ball. But I believed in him. It did not work. ”
Failed to work for the seventh time in seven tries against Mahomes (25 of 40 for 318 yards).
Lock was 15 of 28 passing for 151 yards. Fant and Patrick each had four catches. And the offense was 7-of-13 in third place.
Near perfection was required against the 11-1 Chiefs. The Broncos were game, but not winners.
“We played our tails off and lost and you go into a match to try to win,” said defensive goal keeper Shelby Harris. “My biggest thing is that we can play with the best of them, so let’s keep playing like that.”