By Hal Estep
In his first test against under the bright primetime lights, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes shone brightly against the Denver Broncos and its staunch defense in a 23-20 win.
With 12:47 left in the fourth quarter, trailing by 10, Mahomes led Kansas City on a long drive against the smothering Broncos defense.
This wasn’t the first time the Broncos had seen Mahomes; he made his first career start against Denver in Week 17 of 2017. And, like that matchup, he helped the Chiefs secure the win.
For three quarters plus, Denver’s defense kept Mahomes in check. Their offense was effective against the Chiefs’ defense, especially running backs Royce Freeman and Philip Lindsay.
That changed after an early 4th quarter Broncos field goal. Mahomes came out firing on the next drive, completing 8 out of 10 passes, including a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce to bring the game within a field goal.
It was up to the defense to prevent Denver from taking time off of the clock and to help get the ball back to Mahomes.
Sure enough, it did its job.
The Broncos went three-and-out, thanks to strong defensive plays from cornerbacks Orlando Scandrick and Allen Bailey. The Broncos would punt; and the Kansas City regained possession.
Mahomes opened the next drive with three straight completions to wide receiver Tyreek Hill. None of them were the bombs downfield that Chiefs fans have grown used to, but the third throw may have been the most impressive of the night.
Mahomes took the snap, and scrambled to his left. He was chased by none other than Super Bowl 50 MVP and Denver linebacker Von Miller. Somehow, while being chased, Mahomes had the presence of mind to switch the ball from his right to his left hand and shot-put it to Hill for an incredible first down.
This play was a testament to Mahomes’ awareness and intelligence, and is unprecedented for a first year starting quarterback.
The incredible play was followed by more adversity. Mahomes was hit while throwing, and the Chiefs were penalized for intentional grounding, leading to a 2nd and 20. That would become a 2nd and 30 thanks to a holding penalty on offensive lineman Mitch Morse.
Mahomes would get those 20 yards back after a 23 yard pass to wide receiver DeMarcus Robinson. The drive was completed by a 4-yard Kareem Hunt rush for a touchdown.
Kansas City’s defense held onto the lead in the final drive of the game, and with the help of dropped passes, a disastrous overthrow and a botched attempted lateral, the Chiefs won, 27-23.
Running back Kareem Hunt had his best game of the season, rushing 19 times for 121 yards, recording 3 catches for 54 yards and the game winning touchdown.
Kelce had 7 catches for 78 yards, while Hill had 9 catches for 54 yards. Mahomes ended up 28 for 45 with 304 passing yards, a passing and rushing. Justin Houston and Allen Bailey had critical sacks, and Eric Murray had an incredible interception in the 3rd quarter.
It wasn’t all good news for Kansas City; wild receiver Sammy Watkins left early in the game with a hamstring injury and did not return. The extent of the injury isn’t known at this time.
Elsewhere in the AFC West, Los Angeles and Oakland both won. The Chiefs have sole possession of first place; and proved its supremacy in the division with Monday’s win.
Next Sunday, the Chiefs play an even tougher defense in the Jacksonville Jaguars. Kickoff is set for noon at Arrowhead Stadium.
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org