The Kansas City Chiefs found a way to turn a laugher into a nailbiter in Week 14, but not in a promising way.
After jumping out to a 27-0 lead late in the first half, the Chiefs narrowly avoided a cataclysmic meltdown in Denver, barely holding off the Broncos to win 34-28, their 10th win of the season.
It’s also the Chiefs’ 14th win in a row over the Broncos.
The first 27 minutes of the first half went nearly perfectly for Kansas City while they were just about as disastrous as most minutes have been for the Denver offense this year. Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker kicked two field goals on the first two drives of the game, with quarterback Patrick Mahomes hitting running back Jerick McKinnon for a pair of touchdowns on the next two drives.
To cap off the white-hot start for Kansas City, linebacker Willie Gay recorded an acrobatic interception on a pass by Denver quarterback Russell Wilson and returned it for a touchdown.
The Chiefs even forced a three-and-out for the Broncos following the pick-six as boos rained down from Broncos fans at Empower Field.
That was the end of the Week 14 era of good feelings, however, with Mahomes getting picked off two plays after the punt, setting the Broncos up with a short field. Four plays and 42 yards later and Denver was on the board thanks to a Wilson touchdown strike to wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.
Wilson and Jeudy connected for another touchdown with just nine seconds left in the first half, set up by a second interception thrown in as many drives by Mahomes.
Instead of a four-score advantage, the Chiefs led by just 13 at the break.
The lead would shrink again mere moments after the teams returned following halftime, with a 66-yard touchdown catch and run by Broncos running back Marlon Mack trimming the deficit to just six points.
Eventually, the Chiefs would extend the lead back to two scores on a Mahomes touchdown pass to wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, but not before wasting much of the third quarter with a pair of drives that last just six combined plays and eight combined yards.
Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s unit didn’t get any relief as the scoreboard flipped to the fourth quarter, allowing yet another Broncos score through the air, although this one was delivered to Jeudy by Denver backup quarterback Brett Rypien. He replaced Wilson after the latter suffered a concussion on a run to set up first and goal.
Mahomes wasn’t done with his struggles, throwing his third interception of the game with 5:49 left to play, but the defense finally came up with a game-sealing play of its own, picking Rypien off about a minute and a half later. The offense did just enough to burn off the rest of the clock and secure the victory.
Kansas City ended up winning despite becoming just the third team to allow 20+ points to Denver this season. In fact, 28 points is a new season high for the Broncos, beating their previous best of 23 points in Week 4.
Mahomes finished 28-of-42 passing for 352 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions, good for a passer rating of 86.6. That’s just the third time in Mahomes’ career he’s thrown three interceptions in one game and it’s only the ninth time in 76 career regular-season starts that he’s thrown multiple interceptions.
“Every quarterback who’s played in this league a while has a game like that,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said, adding: “You take out the three interceptions and he really had a heck of a game.”
Even with the defense’s tough afternoon, Mahomes praised that group for picking him up during a rare off game.
“I was proud of how the guys responded whenever I wasn’t playing great,” Mahomes told Evan Washburn of CBS. “Because you need everybody if you want to go out and try to win a Super Bowl.”
These teams will play again in Kansas City in Week 17. Next up for the Chiefs is their third road game in a row, heading south to face the Houston Texans, who are 1-11-1 this year after blowing a lead and losing to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. That game is set for a noon kickoff on Sunday, Dec. 18.
For more reaction to the Kansas City Chiefs’ 34-28 win over the Denver Broncos, check out Mic’d Up with Jake and Fulton from noon-3:00 p.m., and 580 Sports Talk with Brendan and Dan from 3-6:00 p.m. Monday on 580 WIBW.