We all knew the Denver Broncos would have a difficult time keeping pace with the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs today, even if the weather was perfect.
But, the snow was relentless at Arrowhead on Sunday, the wildcard which made it seem like the bad weather could possibly limit the Chiefs’ speedy offensive attack.
Instead, the Chiefs struck quickly when Tyreek Hill’s double move burned Chris Harris Jr. — who couldn’t plant — and Kansas City never looked back to win 23-3.
The Broncos did decently to hang in the game, definitely. After the touchdown, Kansas City went for 2 and missed it, and then the defense held the Chiefs’ fast offense to three straight field goals to end the half 15-3. Two of those drives ended within Denver’s 10 yard line, making the stops even more impressive. They also sacked one of the NFL’s most elusive players, Patrick Mahomes three times, twice by Shelby Harris.
When the Broncos had the ball, though, they were unable to use the snow to their advantage. Instead, it was the same lack of attack we’ve become accustomed to seeing most of this season. Denver was called for seven penalties for 72 yards in that first half, and the Broncos couldn’t sustain drives, gaining a mere 101 yards before the break.
They were sloppier than an icy front porch after a blizzard.
Not even Rich Scangarello’s great play-call on a 4th and 1 — a play-action pass to Noah Fant which floated in there perfectly — could result in a touchdown. Denver had the ball in a goal-to-go situation after that 43-yard pass, but couldn’t put the ball into the end zone.
Overall, the Broncos were as sloppy as the 2 inches of snow on the field in Arrowhead on Sunday; their true colors showed. Especially in the second half.
Kansas City dove for a touchdown with ease to start the half, then put a 2-point conversion on the board to basically seal the deal at 23-3. The Chiefs were able to persevere through the snow to find ways to gain first downs and score points. However, the Broncos answered with a punt, interception badly thrown by Drew Lock, turnover on downs and turnover on downs.
While the Chiefs marched 71 yards with ease before Mahomes was picked off at the goal line by a sliding Justin Simmons (a phenomenal play), the Broncos offensive line allowed Drew Lock to be punished over and over again. Lock was sacked once and hit many, many times which forced him to throw early and off-balance.
In fact, Lock went 18-40 for the game (his sloppiest play of the year) and 10-23 in the second half. As the game went on, Lock — like the rest of his Broncos teammates — got sloppier, just like the field in K.C.
His worst throws of the divisional contest came on back-to-back plays. First, he was picked off on a miscommunication with Tim Patrick, but that was called back due to a penalty. Then, Lock forced a pass to Noah Fant in the end zone which was easily intercepted by the Chiefs, putting the nail in Denver’s coffin.
He’s a rookie, sure, but down 23-3, Denver had to have a touchdown there, in Chiefs’ territory down at the 11 yard line. And on first and goal, nonetheless. That throw was egregious, and probably the worst throw of Lock’s short career to this point.
Look, Lock’s storybook start to his career, his 2-0 beginning including the Broncos’ win over the tremendous Houston Texans last week, was great and all, but this was expected.
The now 5-9 Broncos were supposed to lose to the now 10-4 Chiefs. But, the Denver defense kept the team in the contest — like they have since 2015, over and over again — and the offense was again inept.
With that loss, Denver’s officially eliminated from the playoffs. And as we look into the near future, the Broncos have to find a way to become a complete team if they want to start winning these crucial, big-stakes games.