Chiefs use defense and special teams to dominate Broncos

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The Chiefs dismantled the Broncos 43-16 at Mile High Stadium on Sunday afternoon in Le’Veon Bell’s highly anticipated debut.

Head coach Andy Reid was proud of his team and how they used all three phases of the game to win this contest.

“All three phases contributed and we overcame some things offensively and defensively,” Reid said. “It was great to see our team get 17 points off of turnovers, which is big. Defensively, we were just sharp.”

The Chiefs have used the last two weeks to show the league they can win in multiple ways. In week six, they utilized the run game to slow down the Buffalo Bill’s highly explosive offense, and in week seven, Kansas City was carried by something that many people tend to criticize – their defense.

After forcing a three-and-out, Kansas City’s offense jumped out of the gate with a highly efficient, eight-play, 68-yard drive that was capped off with an 11-yard touchdown run by Clyde Edwards-Helaire. However, after that drive, the Chiefs’ offense struggled to find any rhythm for the majority of the game. Kansas City’s defense stifled Denver’s second drive, giving the Chiefs the chance to jump out to a double digit lead. But on their second drive, Patrick Mahomes found tight end Nick Keizer on the left side of the field, and Keizer fumbled the ball, giving the Broncos the ball on Kansas City’s 37-yard line. Denver took advantage of the turnover and scored a touchdown on a two-yard run from quarterback Drew Lock. The Broncos missed the extra point, leaving them down 7-6 halfway through the first quarter.

On Kansas City’s next drive, the Chiefs saw exactly what Bell could offer to this offense. On Bell’s first carry, he gashed the Broncos’ defense with a 16-yard run. As expected, Bell did not have a lot of carries on the day, but he was still able to muster out 39 yards on six carries. The Chiefs’ drive stalled out in the red zone, and kicker Harrison Butker nailed a 40-yard field goal to extend Kansas City’s lead 10-6 late in the first quarter.

On Denver’s next drive, the Chiefs’ defense made their opening statement on the game, when they forced running back Melvin Gordon to fumble near midfield. Defensive tackle Tershawn Wharton punched the ball out of Gordon’s hands, and safety Tyrann Mathieu jumped on the loose football at Denver’s 49-yard line. However, the Chiefs failed to take advantage of the opportunity and were forced to punt back to Denver.

The Chiefs defense made another statement when safety Daniel Sorensen picked off Lock’s pass for a 50-yard touchdown. Kansas City went up 17-6. The Broncos were falling quickly behind, not because of Mahomes and the lethal offense, but because of Kansas City’s much overlooked defense. Kansas City’s defense bent but did not break on Denver’s next possession, holding the Broncos to a field goal and keeping the Chiefs up 17-9. Before the Chiefs’ offense could even take the field, Byron Pringle returned the kickoff for a 102-yard touchdown, extending Kansas City’s lead 24-9 late in the second quarter. The Chiefs went into the half up 24-9 – despite Mahomes only throwing for 99 yards – thanks to their defense and special teams units. 

To begin the second half, the Chiefs offense continued to struggle. They surrendered another sack and went three-and-out, quickly giving the ball back to the Broncos. Denver attempted to fire a spark with an unorthodox play. After slowly moving the ball down the field, the Broncos tried a flea flicker from their own 43 yard line. But Gordon’s pitch back to Lock flew over the quarterback’s hands and Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark scooped up the ball and ran to Denver’s 14-yard line. The Chiefs moved the ball one yard and Butker converted a 31-yard field goal to increase the lead 27-9 early in the third quarter.

On the next drive, Kansas City continued to play suffocating defense and forced a turnover on downs, giving the Chiefs’ offense a short field. After the drive sputtered out inside Denver’s 10-yard line, Butker kicked another chip-shot field goal to put the Chiefs up 30-9 late in the third quarter. Early in the fourth, it seemed Denver would trim the lead, but Mathieu intercepted an errant throw from Lock that bounced off his attempted target. The Chiefs put the final nail in the coffin with a 57-yard drive that concluded when Mahomes threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Kansas City went up 37-9 before two garbage-time touchdowns by each team late in the contest.

Shockingly, the Chiefs failed to convert a single third down in the game, while being outgained by Denver 411-286 yards. This game had Chiefs’ defense written all over it. The deciding difference in the game was the turnover battle. Kansas City forced four turnovers, while Denver forced one turnover. Mahomes finished the game with 200 yards passing with one touchdown. Edwards-Helaire led the team in rushing with 46 yards on eight carries, and Hill led the team in receiving with 55 yards on six receptions.

The Chiefs improved their record to 6-1, and are going into week eight as heavy favorites against the winless New York Jets. The Chiefs will host the Jets at Arrowhead Stadium on Nov. 1 with Bell looking for revenge on his former team.

laldpy@mail.umkc.edu

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