The Broncos came into the Thursday Night Football prime-time match-up hoping to capitalize on their two-game win streak and make it a third against a beat-up but always tough-to-beat Chiefs team.
The script would completely flip as it was the Chiefs’ defense that would dominate while holding down the fort after a game-ending injury to Patrick Mahomes. And the Broncos’ running game would get no traction as the defense could only hold back Kansas City for so long.
If you had told me the #Broncos would lose tonight, I'd have had to agree it was possible.— Doctor of Words (and tights and kicking ass) (@docllv) October 18, 2019
But if you'd told me it was because our stud running backs couldn't get past the 31st-ranked run defense or that the Chiefs would score 30 w/o Mahomes, I'd have said you were crazy AF. https://t.co/k1c8SXOuqc
The Broncos offense took the ball first, handed off to Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman on first and second down only to end up with third-and-long - which would become a telling metaphor for the Broncos’ first-half offense.
Dionte Spencer gained six on 3rd-and-8, but a face mask by the Chiefs gave the Broncos a much-needed first-down and new life.
From the 48, Flacco faked to Lindsay before nailing a pass to Emmanuel Sanders for another first down, this time in Chiefs territory.
Lindsay and Freeman combined again for just two yards gained on the first two plays before earning another third-and-long. But a defensive holding call gifted the Broncos another first down that Flacco converted into a quick pass to Andy Janovich, who scooted to the 13 yard line.
On 2nd-and-7, Flacco found an open Courtland Sutton near the goal line before Royce Freeman bolted through the line for six, letting the Broncos strike first.
A Chiefs’ penalty on the extra point moved the ball to the one, so Broncos opted for a two-point conversion, but Lindsay was stuffed at the one, and the 10-play, 75-yard drive ended with no extra points.
Broncos 6, Chiefs 0.
#BRONCOS TOUCHDOWN! pic.twitter.com/aWkdcie1s3— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) October 18, 2019
Chiefs took over on their 25 - and as if to prove that they were indeed the better running team, handed off to LeSean McCoy who gained seven yards. Going again to McCoy, the running back went inside and broke free for a huge play to near midfield.
A screen pass to Damien Williams resulted in a loss of three, thanks to a timely tackle by Malik Reed.
On 2nd-and-13, a wide open Demarcus Robinson was brought down just short of the first by Chris Harris Jr., setting up 3rd-and-3 before Travis Kelce busted open on a first-down play to the Broncos’ 30.
Stuffing McCoy on first down and blitzing on 2nd-and-9, the Broncos D finished up by brinigng down McCoy short of the first. But once again on third down, Mahomes hit Mecole Hardman, who burned Will Parks and broke a tackle by Kareem Jackson to run in from the 10 for an easy TD.
Chiefs 7, Broncos 6
On Broncos’ first down of the second drive, Garett Bolles drew a holding call, pushing the Broncos back for 1st-and-20. Subsequently, Freeman gained just four, setting up 2nd-and-16. An incomplete pass to Freeman set up another long third down, which set up the perfect scenario for a sack to Flacco.
The ball popped out but luckliy Freeman fell on it, and the Broncos had to punt.
A short punt from deep in Broncos territory gave Hardman a lot of room to run back before stepping out at Broncos’ 22-yard line.
Despite the short field, the defense held tough, and the Chiefs had to settle for three.
Chiefs 10, Broncos 6.
#Chiefs go to a screen on third and long. The #Broncos D is ready. pic.twitter.com/8GndoFytP6— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) October 18, 2019
The Broncos third drive of the game finally saw a little light from Lindsay who broke free for a nine-yard pickup, but ultimately the defense would come up just short of a first down and would attempt a fake punt that was easily sniffed out by the Chiefs.
Taking over midfield, Mahomes threw a couple strikes to Kelce, marching the Chiefs inside the Broncos’ 10-yard line.
But the Broncos’ tightened up on defense, keeping the Chiefs from the end zone on three straight plays.
Facing a 4th-and-1 from inside the five, the Chiefs elected to go for it with a quarterback sneak.
Although the play got the coveted one yard, it came at the cost of a knee injury to Mahomes. Already hobbled by an ankle injury, the knee injury was enough to bring out the cart and send Mahomes to the locker room. Minutes later he was ruled out for the game.
With backup QB Matt Moore in, Chiefs hand off to one of the Williams on the next two downs, getting only inches on each and setting up 3rd-and-goal from the one.
Pressuring Moore, the backup throws incomplete and Broncos make another goal-line stand for a huge stop.
Butker chips in another three, giving the Chiefs a 13-6 lead.
Chiefs 13, Broncos 6.
In the continued alternate universe where the Broncos’ running game couldn’t get anywhere and the Chiefs’ defense was on fire, Flacco suffered a strip sack, providing the Chiefs’ defense an easy touchdown and the Mahomes-less team from KC a lot of breathing room.
Flacco strip-sacked on the second play of the Broncos' drive. Ragland picks it up and scores.— Aric DiLalla (@AricDiLalla) October 18, 2019
Chiefs now lead 20-6.
With seven minutes to go in the half, Broncos decided to go big on first down, throwing deep to Sutton for a huge 41-yard play.
Hitting Sutton on several plays, the Broncos march to the Chiefs’ 20-yard line.
On another third-and-long, Flacco gets sacked for a fifth time, pushing the Broncos out of the red zone and bringing out McManus.
From 45 yards out, McManus goes wide right and Denver once again can’t get any points out of the drive.
Despite a first down for the Chiefs due to a defensive holding call against Duke Dawson, the Chiefs would ultimately call out the punting unit for the first time of the night after Justin Simmons broke up a third-and-long attempt to Demarcus Robinson.
Needing to move down the field fast, Flacco hit Emmanuel Sanders across the middle for a 16-yard play on second down, but it was called back for a holding penalty on Garett Bolles. Facing 1st and 20 from their 30, Flacco threw deep across the middle to Noah Fant who couldn’t make the catch in traffic as he took his eye off the ball for a split second.
Broncos were forced to punt away once again, and halftime could not come soon enough.
Chiefs 20, Broncos 6.
The #Broncos defense is doing all it can to win the game. Let's hope another unit starts to help... pic.twitter.com/sZtAqJuSR6— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) October 18, 2019
The Broncos defense held its own for two series, forcing the Chiefs to punt the ball away.
But the offense could do absolutely nothing, going three-and-out on two drives and putting the Broncos defense on the field once again.
On the Chiefs’ third drive of the third quarter, Moore unloaded a deep pass to Tyreek Hill who burned Harris Jr. and took it to the house, giving the Chiefs a three-score lead.
Chiefs 27, Broncos 6.
The Broncos would appropriately close out their third quarter drive with a holding call against Bolles and an eighth sack to Flacco.
Rememeber when we all thought the Chiefs defense was bad?— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) October 18, 2019
Broncos offense was like, "Hold my beer."
Picking up where they left off, Flacco would get his ninth sack on the drive just after the start of the fourth quarter.
Troy Aikman said the Broncos’ offense “was about as bad as any offense I’ve ever seen,” and he could not have been more correct.
In fact, I can’t even write this anymore. Here’s a summary of every drive in the final quarter:
Phillip Lindsay keeps trying to run hard but with very little success.
Joe Flacco has to back pedal on every pass play.
Receivers catch and drop.
Flacco throws incomplete.
Fourth down. No score.
Oh, and the Chiefs did get another field goal with five minutes left in this miserable game.
Chiefs 30, Broncos 6.
Broncos fans could have left by now or stay and boo this mess. I respect them for largely choosing the latter.— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) October 18, 2019