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Kansas City Chiefs Spoil Denver Broncos’ Streak in Snowy Game at Arrowhead

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Not much positive came out of the Denver Broncos’ Week 15 loss on the road in Kansas City. They stumbled out of a division rivalry game losing 23-3 as the offense couldn’t move the ball, the defense couldn’t get a stop, and the bright spots were dim, to say the least. Drew Lock reportedly had 50 friends and family in attendance as he grew up miles from Arrowhead Stadium. This game was played in inclement weather where near-blizzard conditions seemingly only impacted the Broncos.

Chris Harris, Jr. gave up a 44-yard touchdown to Tyreek Hill on the Chiefs’ opening possession. Harris and Justin Simmons had Hill bracketed in over-under coverage and he ran a clean route to make an uncontested over-the-shoulder touchdown catch. Harris then proceeded to turn to the safety and throw his arms in the air to indicate that it wasn’t Harris’ fault. Luckily for the Broncos, the extra point failed as the holder couldn’t corral the snap resulting in a failed two-point conversion.

The Broncos would punt their next possession, pinning the Chiefs inside their own 20-yard line. They would go on to work 79 yards for a field goal to take a 9-0 lead. This drive benefited from a five-yard penalty on third down and a 22-yard pass interference call on Isaac Yaidom. On the day, the Broncos would be penalized seven times for a whopping 72 yards.

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Upon getting the ball back, the Broncos would go three-and-out, with two dropped passes and a false start hindering the drive, Colby Wadman was able to flip the field, delivering a strong punt with little return to give the Chiefs the ball at their own 25-yard line.

They would drive the length of the field with big chunk plays from Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce, who terrorized the Broncos all day, and settle for a field goal to take a 12-0 lead. Kelce had 11 receptions for 142 yards on the day, eclipsing 1,000 yards receiving for the fourth straight season, which is the first time in NFL history a tight end completed that feat.

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Brandon McManus kicked a 32-yard field goal with 1:56 left in the first half, which the Chiefs would use to drive the length of the field and kick a 33-yard field goal before halftime, taking a 15-3 lead.

The second half was more of the same as the Broncos punted on their first possession after giving up a 75-yard drive that was capped off with a touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill again, and a two-point conversion where Mahomes would evade a sack and hit Sammy Watkins in the back of the end zone, making it 23-3.

Drew Lock would throw interceptions on back-to-back plays in the red zone as the first was negated by a penalty and the second had touchdown potential if Lock wasn’t under pressure. He was throwing to Noah Fant across the field in the back corner of the end zone and couldn’t get enough arm strength on it.

The Broncos’ defense held up after the score was 23-3 and didn’t give up any more points, but the offense would also not score in the second half, turning the ball over on their final two possessions. Dropped passes, a fumbled long snap, fumbled RPO interaction, interceptions, penalties and anything else that could be messed up, was.

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The post-game interview with Von Miller showed a clearly frustrated franchise player who continues to iterate that he was speechless, that he was in his prime, that he was tired of losing games, and that he didn’t know what it was going to take to turn it around. Miller admitted that its frustrating for him and Harris, who came into the league and set a precedent for hard work and winning games, only to be rebuilding through the primes of their careers.

Though I feel for Miller, the team isn’t failing despite his and Harris’s overwhelming success. Von Miller has only seven sacks on the season. He hasn’t forced a fumble once this season, his tackles for loss and quarterback hits are both down dramatically, and Harris is giving up a 68.4 percent completion percentage with one interception on the year. His yards per completion, yards per target, total yards and opponent quarterback rating against him have risen dramatically.

Health has been an issue this season, and there’s a new defensive scheme that took a while to learn and get comfortable in. Bradley Chubb and Bryce Callahan, who were both projected as impact players on defense, have been missing all season. There are definitely excuses, but the fact of the matter is that the players have had opportunities to win five additional games and have failed to do so.

Winners:

Brandon McManus – Responsible for the only three points the Broncos would score, kicking an easy field goal through the uprights in the first half, McManus would have another chance to score in the second half but Vic Fangio elected to go for it on fourth down as they trailed 23-3 with only a few minutes left in the third quarter.

Colby Wadman – Four punts for an average of 42.8 yards means very little outside of the fact that three of his four punts pinned the Chiefs inside their 20-yard line. I’ve been critical of Wadman all year because his performances have cost the team some games, but on Sunday, he punted well in bad weather and his one mistake, a mishandled snap, he corralled and got off a punt before it was a disaster.

Shelby Harris – Sunday saw two sacks on the day and another batted pass at the line of scrimmage, overall a good day in the office for a defensive end looking for a contract after this season.

Von Miller – The star some good pressures and secured a sack on Mahomes for his seventh of the season. Shelby and Von would be the only two to get to Mahomes on the day bringing, him down three times for negative 12 yards.

Run Defense – Grasping at straws looking for winners this week, the Broncos’ run defense gave up 97 yards on 25 carries. 11 of those yards came on broken pass contain where Mahomes was able to scramble. The team held the Chiefs to 3.7 yards per rush on a day where the run game was a huge part of the gameplan with the snow causing problems.

Losers:

Drew Lock – The rookie completed 18 of 40 passes for 205 yards, zero touchdowns and essentially two interceptions on back-to-back plays, but officially only one interception. The only impact the weather had on the Chiefs was a bobbled PAT snap and about four other dropped interceptions where the defensive backs jumped routes but couldn’t secure the interceptions.

Passing defense – Mahomes was 27-for-34 in a blizzard with 341 yards and two touchdowns. He broke the pocket three times for 11 additional yards.

Offense – Three points. Drops, turnovers, penalties, bad execution, giving up on the run game. Drew Lock has a lot to learn from this game. His poor game will be enhanced by his receivers’ poor game, but ultimately, when nobody on offense shows up, the team is going to get embarrassed.

Todd Davis – Travis Kelce had 11 catches for 142 yards. Though Todd Davis is a good team leader as well as a good run stopper, he’s too much of a liability in the passing game and gives up too many big plays in that aspect to running backs or tight ends.

Chris Harris, Jr. – I have harped on him enough, but he gave up two touchdowns. This is a player that held out this offseason while asking for top cornerback money and will likely leave in the offseason hunting for a big contract. The advanced metrics don’t support his case for being dubbed an elite player any longer.

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