Why Chiefs-Broncos was the most embarrassing game in Patrick Mahomes era

Was the 24-9 loss against the Denver Broncos the most embarrassing for the KC Chiefs in the Patrick Mahomes era?
Oct 29, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Fabian Moreau (23) breaks up a pass
Oct 29, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Fabian Moreau (23) breaks up a pass / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Call this hyperbolic. Label this a knee-jerk reaction. But a compelling argument can be made that the 24-9 defeat against the Denver Broncos on Sunday was the most embarrassing loss in the Patrick Mahomes era for the Kansas City Chiefs.

This isn't about the 16-game winning streak against the Broncos being snapped. It's practically impossible to beat another NFL team 17 times and it's only been done thrice in NFL history. A loss was bound to happen at some point. This isn't even about their chances in the postseason. This is about one game in and of itself.

To be clear, I still believe that the Chiefs are 100% Super Bowl contenders. I also firmly believe they're still the favorites in the AFC and possibly the NFL as a whole. What I am arguing is that the Week 8 blowout loss in Denver is the worst since Mahomes was installed as the team's starting quarterback.

The Chiefs have gotten blown out before, including in a Super Bowl, and have lost games despite having a large lead at some point. But the difference between those games and the one on Sunday is that the previous defeats were against good teams. The Buccaneers in 2020-21 were the Super Bowl champions. When the Titans beat the Chiefs 27-3 in 2021, they at least finished the regular season as the #1 seed in the AFC. The Bills in 2021 were one of the best teams in football, so a 38-20 loss isn't the most humiliating thing in the world. Even the loss in Indianapolis is more forgivable than what happened this past weekend.

The 2023 Denver Broncos are not a good team. In fact, they're a terrible team that gave up 70 points in a single game and whose quarterback is signed to an albatross contract.

The Broncos did not play well in this game. Russell Wilson had some brilliant plays but he was awful overall. Denver only gained 240 offense, averaged only 3.7 yards per play, and averaged 3.8 yards on the ground. They did not play well on offense and the Kansas City defense did its job for the most part. If Wilson played at a truly elite level and the Broncos moved the ball with ease because of it, fair enough. That's not what happened.

Denver had four scoring drives in this game. Those four drives started at the Kansas City 39-yard line (touchdown), the 50-yard line (touchdown), the Kansas City 10-yard line (touchdown), and the Kansas City 20-yard line (field goal). That's an average field position around the 30-yard line. I don't care how good a defense is, that's an almost impossible scenario to be put in time and again.

In addition, all four of the scoring drives were off Kansas City's mistakes, which explains the favorable field position. The Chiefs allowed a 31-yard punt return that led to the first Denver touchdown. A bad Patrick Mahomes fumble, where he held the ball for several seconds, led to the second touchdown. A Mecole Hardman muffed a punt inside the five led to the third touchdown. The field goal late in the game was after a Patrick Mahomes interception on a de facto hail mary.

The Broncos didn't have a strong game by any means, and one can even argue that they played poorly. This isn't a situation where the opponent had a strong game and was simply better than the Chiefs. The fact that the Broncos were sloppy and barely moved the ball on offense and the Chiefs still lost by multiple touchdowns shows how horrific they played.

Kansas City allowed 240 yards, surrendered an average of 3.7 yards per play on defense, and only punted twice. If you would have told any Chiefs fan that prior to the game, everyone would have assumed a blowout victory. But that's not what happened. Instead, they turned the ball over five times, failed to score a touchdown, and only got six points in three red zone trips.

I can forgive blowout losses against good teams. I can even excuse close losses against mediocre or poor teams since one or two unlucky bounces can flip a game. But I cannot let them off the hook for a blowout loss against an objectively bad team.

I don't care that Patrick Mahomes had the flu. He did not play his best. He had multiple interceptions and a preventable fumble that likely took points off the board, but he's not the only blameless one here. Andy Reid's play-calling was abysmal and every wide receiver, with the exception of Justin Watson, had at least one terrible play of some kind.

In a vacuum, this is the worst game in the Patrick Mahomes era for the Chiefs. Playoff losses will always hurt worse than what happened on Sunday for obvious reasons, but 15-point defeats against a 2-5 team will never be acceptable. Five turnovers in a single game will never be tolerated.

I am still a believer in this football team. For my money, they're my pick to win Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. This is one bad game in a season with at least 17 games and hopefully 20. But this one was really, really bad. It's okay to lose in the NFL and it's not the end of the world to lose my multiple scores. Tom Brady has gotten blown out multiple times in a single season and went on to win the Super Bowl that same year. In fact, that's occurred multiple times with him.

The Kansas City Chiefs are going to be fine. They're basically locks to win their division and they're still atop the AFC and could very well finish the regular season in the same spot. They lost 38-20 and 27-3 in the span of three weeks, then went on to host the AFC Championship Game, where they easily should have won.

This team has issues that need to be sorted out, but they're still elite. They have a Top 2 head coach, a Top 1 quarterback, a Top 1 tight end, a Top 5-7 offensive line, and a Top 5 defense. This a Super Bowl-caliber team. It was before Week 8 and it's still true today. Despite being a good team, however, this is the most embarrassing loss over the past 5+ years.

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