The Denver Broncos played their best game of the season, but two questionable calls by referees ended up being the difference in the 27-24 defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs. The first was a fumble by Russell Wilson that sure looked like a forward pass and the other was a phantom offensive pass interference call on Courtland Sutton that negated a huge pass play and led to back-to-back game-clinching touchdowns by the Chiefs.
At 4-12, the disappointing loss was still encouraging as the Broncos offense looked better than it has all season.
Safe to say this was the best game the #Broncos offense has played all season. Hats off to Justin Outten here despite the loss.— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) January 1, 2023
The game started out exactly as we would have guessed with a Broncos three and out followed by Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs marching right down the field for a touchdown.
@ the five people i tweeted at telling them to start pacheco 15 minutes ago, you’re welcome pic.twitter.com/lhO0ZTMUK9— NFL Fantasy Football (@NFLFantasy) January 1, 2023
However, the quarter became more of a defensive battle from there. After another punt by Denver, the Broncos defense was able to force a punt of their own. The first quarter would end with the Broncos offense picking up a couple of first downs and driving near midfield.
Chiefs 6, Broncos 0.
The Broncos would see that drive end right around the Chiefs’ 30-yard line where Brandon McManus would boot a 49-yard field goal to cut the Chiefs lead to 6-3.
Kansas City came out firing on all cylinders on the next drive. Justin Simmons was beat on a deep pass play to set the Chiefs up for what looked like another scoring drive. However, on third and goal Simmons got his revenge by intercepting Mahomes in the end zone to end the drive.
That was the sixth interception of the season for Justin Simmons.
The Broncos offense came out and punted rather quickly, but Alex Singleton stripped the ball on the punt return where the Broncos recovered at the Chiefs 16-yard line. One play later, Russell Wilson on the read-option burst through a hole for a touchdown and a Broncos 10-6 lead.
That whole sequence of events seemed to motivate the Mahomes and the Chiefs as they marched right down the field in the final four minutes of the half to retake the lead knowing they’d get the ball again to start the third quarter.
However, a huge play to Chase Edmonds on a pass over the middle set the Broncos up at midfield with less than a minute to go. Wilson then hit Courtland Sutton down to the Chiefs 39-yard line to get Denver close to field goal range. Another slant to Sutton got them into field goal range. However, protection failed and Wilson was blown up from behind for the strip/sack to end all momentum and the first half.
Mahomes would then throw an absolute dime to the sidelines to get the Chiefs into scoring position for a 50-yard field goal. Harrison Butker missed it.
Chiefs 13, Broncos 10.
The Broncos defense came out and shut down the Chiefs offense completely in the third quarter as they forced three straight punts. Meanwhile, the Broncos offense found a lot of success with the read-option and moving Russell Wilson out of the pocket (imagine!). That led to a 25-yard touchdown strike to Albert Okwuegbunam midway through the quarter to put the Broncos back out in front 17-13.
That was when the referees looked to take back control of the game. They had called a fumble on what should have been a forward pass on the Broncos in the second quarter to negate a field goal attempt and then they called this an offensive pass interference to negate another potential scoring drive.
Broncos 17, Chiefs 13.
The third quarter would end during the Chiefs next drive, but they would score soon into the fourth quarter to retake the lead. Then Russell Wilson would throw an interception that would lead to another immediate score by the Chiefs. And just like that the Chiefs would lead 27-17.
The Broncos recovered some from there to put together a nice drive that would culminate in Russell Wilson’s second rushing touchdown of the game to cut the Chiefs lead to 27-24.
With less than four minutes to go in the game, the Broncos defense forced a Chiefs punt to give the Broncos offense a chance to win the game. At the two minute warning, the Broncos faced a third and five from their own 42-yard line with two chances to get a first down.
They’d pick up three yards on third down, but on fourth and two Wilson failed to complete the ball and the Chiefs would take over for their 15th straight win over the Broncos.
Chiefs 27, Broncos 24.
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