Mahomes drives Chiefs to 16th straight win vs. Broncos

Photo of Chiefs gearing up to hit top

On Thursday in Kansas City, Missouri, Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs secured their 16th consecutive win against the Denver Broncos, sealing the game with a 19-8 victory. The Kansas City defense nearly held the Broncos scoreless, almost handing coach Sean Payton his first-ever shutout. However, quarterback Russell Wilson and the Broncos managed to find the end zone in the fourth quarter.

Kansas City Chiefs

Travis Kelce’s bid for the Kansas City Chiefs’ MVP title remains compelling. In their recent 16th consecutive victory over the Broncos, Kelce played a crucial role, making nine receptions for 124 yards in their 19-8 win. Remarkably, Kelce took the field despite nursing a heavily taped right ankle, injured in the previous week’s triumph against the Minnesota Vikings.

During the first half, Mahomes displayed outstanding synergy with Kelce, completing all seven of his passes to him for a total of 109 yards, contributing to the Chiefs’ 13-0 lead. However, when targeting other receivers in the same period, Mahomes’ performance was less remarkable, with 8 of 16 passes completed for 53 yards.

The Chiefs preserved a shutout until the fourth quarter, marking the second time this season they achieved this, but it was eventually disrupted by the Broncos, who managed to score their only touchdown with just six minutes remaining.

A notable statistic from Next Gen is Kelce’s speed, clocked at 17.75 mph during a 19-yard catch and run in the first half. While this speed might not be considered exceptionally fast for many wide receivers, it’s a notable feat for a 260-pound, 34-year-old tight end, especially considering his heavily taped right ankle.

On a worrisome note, Mahomes threw his fifth interception of the season, a forced pass into coverage due to pressure from a defender around his legs, preventing him from executing a proper throw. At his current pace, Mahomes is on track for 14 interceptions, potentially surpassing his previous career high of 13 in 2021. The Chiefs’ upcoming game is against the Chargers on October 22nd at 4:25 p.m. ET.

Denver Broncos

Sean Payton got his first taste of the enduring challenge on Thursday night, a challenge that has confronted every Denver Broncos head coach since Gary Kubiak. From Vance Joseph to Vic Fangio, Nathaniel Hackett, and now Payton, they all had to grapple with this ongoing obstacle.

On Thursday night at Arrowhead, the Chiefs once again overcame the Broncos, a pattern consistent in Arrowhead, Denver, and seemingly any other location the NFL might choose for the match. This victory marks the 16th in a row for Kansas City.

There is no better illustration of the Broncos’ current football situation than the 28-year-old Chiefs quarterback consistently connecting with his All-Pro tight end while the rest of the Chiefs’ supporting cast excels.

Despite a commendable performance by their beleaguered defense, especially in the initial three quarters, the Broncos failed to make the most of it. The Chiefs and Mahomes, however, took advantage of short field positions, with their first five drives commencing at the Chiefs’ 38-yard line or better. The Chiefs no longer need to perform at their peak to defeat the Broncos; this has been the case for an extended period.

One significant issue in the game plan, which has persisted throughout much of the season, is the limited involvement of rookie wide receiver Marvin Mims Jr., despite his explosiveness. Mims entered Thursday’s game as the Broncos’ leader with a 24.6 yards-per-catch average. He also owns the team’s longest touchdown reception of the season at 60 yards, the longest punt return, and the longest kickoff return.

Nonetheless, the Broncos often operated with three-wide receiver formations that frequently excluded Mims, particularly in the first half, even when the Broncos’ defense was keeping them competitive. Surprisingly, Mims had not been targeted deep into the fourth quarter. Before this game, Mims had not played more than 21 snaps in any of the Broncos’ first five games, and in four of those games, he had played fewer than 17 snaps.

Regarding the quarterback performance, Wilson’s progress in adapting to the offense had appeared to be steadily improving throughout the season. However, this progress seemed to stall in the previous Sunday’s loss to the New York Jets, resulting in a lackluster 196-yard performance. The Thursday game against the Chiefs mirrored a similar struggle. Wilson appeared unsettled, with passes being deflected, leading to trouble instead of escaping it.

The Chiefs sacked him three times before the end of the third quarter, including two on third down and one on a fourth-down attempt. By the start of the fourth quarter, Wilson had not exceeded 60 passing yards. He held onto the ball for too long and displayed footwork issues as the pressure mounted, reminiscent of the previous year. It is imperative that Payton addresses this regression promptly, or the offense will continue to suffer.

Turning point: The game hinged on two pivotal plays. Trailing by just 10-0, with the ball at their own 44-yard line and 22 seconds left in the first half, along with a timeout, the Broncos had a prime opportunity to generate some much-needed momentum by scoring. Unfortunately, things didn’t unfold as hoped. Wilson incurred a 7-yard loss due to a sack on a critical third-and-5 play.

To compound the issue, Riley Dixon followed up with a 29-yard punt, and the Broncos’ rookie cornerback, Riley Moss, was flagged for illegal touching. This led to the Chiefs taking over at their own 39-yard line with two timeouts still in hand.

Following a completion and scramble by Mahomes, Harrison Butker successfully converted a demoralizing 60-yard field goal to conclude the first half, resulting in a commanding 13-0 lead for the Chiefs. The Broncos struggled to mount a comeback for the remainder of the game.

Up next for the Broncos is a matchup against the Packers on October 22nd at 4:25 p.m. ET.

Chiefs acknowledge room for improvement despite win

The Kansas City Chiefs notched their 16th straight win over the Denver Broncos on Thursday night, stretching their winning streak to five games and establishing themselves as the leaders in the AFC with a 5-1 record.

Nevertheless, despite this triumph, a significant portion of the conversation in the Chiefs’ locker room revolved around the underwhelming performance. Although the Chiefs’ defense managed to effectively stifle Russell Wilson and the Broncos for most of the game, allowing the Broncos to score their lone touchdown in the middle of the fourth quarter, Patrick Mahomes and the offensive unit encountered challenges in seeking effective solutions.

The Chiefs had to settle for just one touchdown on five occasions when they ventured into the Denver 20-yard line. Instead, they leaned on Harrison Butker to kick four field goals, including an impressive 60-yarder just before the first half ended.

Even Andy Reid, the head coach of the Kansas City team known for its stylish victories, admitted, “We have higher standards than what we’re achieving at the moment.” The Chiefs haven’t been struggling offensively this season, ranking ninth in scoring with an average of 24.5 points per game and seventh in total yards with 382 per game.

However, these statistics fall short of the expectations they’ve set since Patrick Mahomes took over as their starting quarterback in 2018. In recent games, they’ve had to rely on their defense, which held the Broncos to 10 points or fewer for the third time this season and maintained a shutout until the fourth quarter for the second time.

Mahomes expressed his gratitude for the excellent performance of their defense, allowing them to navigate through these challenging phases and work towards improvement. He believes in the team’s talent, which shows itself in bursts.

He also emphasized that they did a decent job remaining patient and progressing down the field. However, in the NFL, the difference between scoring three points and seven points is substantial.

If they can execute more effectively in the red zone and convert those opportunities into touchdowns, they would achieve more satisfying outcomes. Since they fell short in this aspect, there is ample room for improvement, something they need to focus on. The objective is to put together a complete game and witness what they can achieve.

Mahomes noted that the Chiefs typically establish their offensive identity as the season unfolds, but this year, the process is taking more time. Travis Kelce, who secured nine receptions against the Broncos, remains a consistent receiving threat, and running back Isiah Pacheco maintains an average of 4.4 yards per carry.

Nevertheless, the Chiefs are grappling with a shortage of reliable wide receivers. Their most dependable option has been a rookie, Rashee Rice, with 21 receptions and two touchdowns. He’s the sole wide receiver on the team with a minimum of 12 receptions and an average of more than 10 yards per catch.

Mahomes also pointed out that they are encountering more deep coverages than he initially expected. Consequently, they need to remain patient and methodical in their drives down the field.

He highlighted that they did well in moving the ball downfield, but they couldn’t translate those drives into touchdowns during the game. Defenses will continue to utilize these strategies. Their focus is on continuous improvement, and when the opportunity arises with man-to-man coverage, they need to ensure they connect on those deep passes.


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