The Chiefs took care of the Broncos on Sunday Night Football.
The Denver Broncos played the Kansas City Chiefs much tougher than anyone could have envisioned in Week 13, but the home team did just enough on both sides of the ball to overcome their red zone struggles in a 22-16 win at Arrowhead Stadium.
From the very beginning, the Chiefs would prove surprisingly inept in the red zone just as the Broncos shocked K.C. by playing up to their opponent’s level (or was it vice versa). Even after the Chiefs got an ideal start to the game after safety Tyrann Mathieu picked off Broncos quarterback Drew Lock, Denver’s defense held strong and forced the Chiefs to punt on two of their first three drives.
Beyond that, the Chiefs ended up serving as their own worst enemy with a poor showing in the red zone on multiple occasions. Credit belongs to Denver’s defense for coming up with several nice stops or plays, including some nice pass deflections at the line of scrimmage by the team’s defensive line—Shelby Harris shoutout here. However, K.C. also shoulders some blame here for offensive line issues that kept the Chiefs from being able to punch it in up close.
In fact, Harrison Butker‘s night tells the story of the game. While it’s nice that the Chiefs kicker was very reliable on Sunday night and hit all four of his field goal attempts, the fact that his longest of the night was for only 35 yards speaks volumes. At one point, the Chiefs had 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line and came away with only three points. A short touchdown pass from Lock to wide receiver Tim Patrick, who would enjoy quite a night, gave Denver a 10-9 lead at halftime.
Fortunately the Chiefs fortunes would change in the second half, at least enough to put themselves in the driver’s seat. The team’s red zone issues continued on the first drive of the second half, but after Lock led the Broncos on a nice drive that ended with a stellar touchdown catch by Tim Patrick, Mahomes finally found Travis Kelce for a 20-yard scoring strike. The Chiefs were up 19-16.
From there, the Chiefs and Broncos would trade punts late—including a quizzical call by Broncos coach Vic Fangio to punt at midfield—before the Chiefs added a late 48-yard field goal by Butker. With a six-point lead, the Chiefs were able to keep the Broncos from taking advantage of having the ball with one minute to go with solid pass defense before Mathieu picked off his second pick of the night.
In the end, the Chiefs closed things out by a final of 22-16. Mahomes finished with 318 passing yards and 1 touchdown, while Kelce had a big night with 136 receiving yards and the lone touchdown catch for the Chiefs. K.C. moves to 11-1 on the year and moves on to face the Miami Dolphins in Week 14.