The Kansas City Chiefs certainly didn’t make it easy on themselves, but the top seed in the AFC is still in play.
The Chiefs edged out a tight 28-24 win over the Denver Broncos on Saturday afternoon to close out their regular season, marking their 13th straight win over the Broncos. All they need now is for the Houston Texans to beat the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, and the first round bye is theirs.
After trailing throughout most of the game, and seemingly about to give up another touchdown late in the fourth quarter, Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton came up with a huge fumble recovery and ran it back 86 yards for a touchdown — which completely changed the game and put Kansas City up by seven.
The Broncos, though, responded instantly. Drew Lock marched right down the field and ran in a 5-yard score on the very next drive to even things up. Then, after forcing a Chiefs punt, Lock did the same thing. He broke out on a 23-yard scramble, the longest run of his career, to score again and push the Broncos to the lead.
The Chiefs then settled for a field goal late in the second quarter, and went into the locker room down four.
Kansas City came out of halftime hot. Mahomes hit Jerick McKinnon for a 14-yard score on their first drive of the third quarter, which gave them their first lead since early in the contest.
That didn’t last long, though, after Broncos running back Melvin Gordon broke out for a 47-yard touchdown run on the next drive.
After giving up a field goal, the Broncos made it all the way down to their nine yard line and were poised to score again. That, though, is when Gordon fumbled and Bolton scored, which essentially sealed the win for Kansas City.
The Chiefs held Denver to a field goal before running out the clock to claim the four-point win.
Lock finished throwing 12-of-24 for 162 yards to go with his two rushing touchdowns. Gordon ran for 110 yards on 12 carries. The Broncos have now missed the playoffs for six straight seasons and have had three consecutive losing seasons under coach Vic Fangio, whose job is undoubtedly in jeopardy.
Patrick Mahomes went 27-of-44 for 269 yards and two touchdowns. He was also Kansas City's leading rusher with 57 yards on seven carries. Mecole Hardman racked up 103 receiving yards on eight receptions.
The Chiefs have now won nine of their last 10 games, with the only loss coming last week to the Cincinnati Bengals. Though the Titans have survived well without running back Derrick Henry in recent weeks, they have lost to the Texans once already this season. Whether they can pull that off a second time remains to be seen — though the Chiefs will sure be glued to that contest at NRG Stadium on Sunday afternoon.