Mercifully, the Denver Broncos 2017 season has come to an end with a 27-24 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs backups. The 5-11 season was a disappointing one, but at least it is finally over for the Broncos and their fans.
On to 2018!
The Chiefs received the ball first and rookie Patrick Mahomes II faced his first third down to open the drive. He hit a deep pass over the middle and a few plays later Kareem Hunt ran 35-yards for the touchdown run to cap a 57-second 85-yard touchdown drive.
Chiefs, who are playing their backups, need 57 seconds to go 86 yards for a touchdown. Broncos have strange ways of supporting their coach.— Paul Klee (@bypaulklee) December 31, 2017
In true 2017 Broncos fashion, they quickly went three and out with Paxton Lynch throwing incomplete to Demaryius Thomas on third down.
After a terrible Mahomes pick, Lynch got his offense moving down the field with some big boy throws fans just haven’t seen from him in his first two seasons as a pro. However, a great pass to the endzone to Isaiah McKenzie was dropped and the drive stalled just inside the red zone.
The Broncos defense continued frustrating and confusing Mahomes through the first quarter, even forcing a 4th and 31 at one point thanks to a timely Shelby Harris sack.
Shelby Harris has played well this season. Very good find. Would love to see him stick around. Helps when you factor in Wolfe’s health.— Christopher Hart (@topherhart) December 31, 2017
Sadly, C.J. Anderson took a hit high and low and looked like he was bent over backwards late in the first quarter. He had to be helped off the field, but was able to return to game.
Chiefs 7, Broncos 3.
The Broncos defense came alive against Mahomes after giving up a touchdown on that first drive, roughing up on four of eleven dropbacks midway through the second quarter. The defense doing that with most of their starters on the bench.
Harris Jr. and Talib are not out there. Roby, Langley, Rios were playing. Dymonte Thomas out there for Darian Stewart.— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) December 31, 2017
Lynch began looking like the quarterback many hoped he would be. A tall, big armed and athletic quarterback that can keep opposing defenses off-balance. Unfortunately, it all came together for him against a team playing their backups in a meaningless game.
De’Angelo Henderson finally got involved, taking a screen pass 29-yards for the touchdown to take the lead 10-7 over the Chiefs.
Lynch at this point in the game was an impressive 11/14 for 118 yards and a touchdown in the game. Mahomes was just 5/11 for 83 yards and an interception.
With the entire starting secondary for the Broncos being benched at this point, Mahomes and the Chiefs got things rolling again late in the first half. They capped an impressive drive with a short 1-yard run for a touchdown to retake the lead 14-10.
However, with just over a minute to go, Lynch and the Broncos were not done. A quick 11-yard screen to Thomas was quickly followed with a deep pass to the sideline where Jordan Taylor made an acrobatic catch in field goal range.
Unfortunately, Lynch was going to Lynch at some point. As bad as Mahomes interception was, Lynch’s interception to end the half into quadruple coverage was one of the worst decisions of the year by any Broncos quarterbacks.
Chiefs 14, Broncos 10.
Lynch and the Broncos offense came out cold to start the second half and quickly punted to the Chiefs.
At this point in the game, Von Miller was the only defensive starter still in the game along the defensive line. Brandon Marshall and Todd Davis were still in at linebacker, but the entire secondary were full of backups.
Mahomes got the offense going again with the time to throw and some wide open wide receivers out there. However, after a 10-minute, 18-play 90-yard drive the defense held firm at the one yard line with a tremendous goalline stand to force a field goal attempt to put the Chiefs up 17-10.
On the Broncos next drive, Lynch would be hit from behind and fumbled the ball. Which, of course, was picked up by the Chief and returned for the touchdown to break the game wide open 24-10.
The third quarter came to an end with another failed Broncos offensive drive resulting in a punt.
Chiefs 24, Broncos 10.
Early in the fourth quarter, Anderson hit the 1,000 yard mark for the first time in his career. That kickstarted a Broncos drive midway through the fourth quarter with Lynch and the Broncos within field goal range.
The milestone rush.— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 31, 2017
Way to go, 2️⃣2️⃣! pic.twitter.com/KDNCUbj78t
From there, things went south in a hurry and on third and 20, Lynch scrambled for five yards. Opting out of the field goal, Vance Joseph went for it and Lynch derped a throw late into the end zone that was easily intercepted and returned out near midfield.
Zaire Anderson took things into his own hands at that point with a scoop and score on a fumble return for a touchdown to give the Broncos a fighting chance down 24-17 to the Chiefs.
With under five minutes in the game, Lynch attacked Darrelle Revis for a 22-yard pass into Chiefs territory and another wheel route to Booker for another 25 yard gain down to the Chiefs 12-yard line.
Three plays later on fourth down and four, Lynch hit Thomas for the touchdown to tie the game up at 24.
Mahomes came back in the game and made a crazy good throw to keep the drive alive. He threw across his body with the kind of arm strength we haven’t seen since Elway was a young player in the NFL.
The drive would end in a field goal and the win.
Chiefs 27, Broncos 24.