In a game that had the media mocking it through a miserable first half, the collective football universe was on the edge of its seat by the end as the Denver Broncos fell to the Kansas City Chiefs in the closing seconds of overtime, 30-27. It was a game full of head scratchers down the stretch for Denver.

The Broncos had a chance to ice the game in the fourth quarter, but Bennie Fowler found the end zone instead of turf. The Denver defense surrendered a rare fourth-quarter touchdown drive. The referees stopped the clock on a non-reviewable play in the closing seconds of overtime. A struggling offense that had found rare life in the second half couldn’t find the end zone in OT. A coach who is known for his conservative approach gambled with the game on the line. And a kicker hit the upright but still managed to win the game.

For as dull as the first half was, it was a wild way to end a game that very well could seal Denver’s playoff fate.

The second half couldn’t have started better for the Broncos. Denver forced a three-and-out for minus-one yard on Kansas City’s opening drive, then responded with their first touchdown drive of the game.

Trevor Siemian made the offensive play of the game to that point on third-and-goal, evading Justin Houston on a blitz and running back across the field where he found Jordan Taylor in the end zone to give Denver a 10-9 lead. Denver was 3-for-3 on third downs on the drive and converted a fourth down with a QB sneak to set up the first-and-goal. Houston ended the night with 10 tackles, three sacks and a pass defended – most of which came in the first half.

Kansas City then put up more yards in one drive (75) then they had amassed in their previous seven combined (53), resulting in a touchdown. An illegal formation penalty on the Broncos on a Kansas City field goal try gave the Chiefs a fresh set of downs at the Denver 12-yard line. Tyreek Hill punished the Broncos again (his free kick TD return in the first half gave KC a 9-0 lead) taking a handoff from Spencer Ware off a direct snap, then finding the outside edge to put Kansas City up by six.

Siemian threw three straight passes on the ensuing drive, completing just one and Denver was three-and-out just after the start of the fourth quarter. But DeMarcus Ware and Shane Ray each had sacks inside the 20 on the next possession to force a Kansas City punt.

Special teams again failed Denver as Jordan Norwood muffed his second punt of the game (his first led to a safety in the first half) and the Chiefs retained possession on their own 41. Denver would force another three-and-out and this time Norwood waived for a fair catch.

The Broncos made the first big play of the game on offense for either team when Siemian hit Emmanuel Sanders for a 64-yard gain. A penalty on Gary Kubiak for colliding with an official during the play moved them back 15 yards. Sanders and Siemian connected again two plays later in the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown and a one-point lead for the Broncos.

Kansas City could not get into scoring range on their next drive, but they did pin Siemian against his own goal line where he made his second-biggest play of the game. On third-and-11 with 4:10 to play, Siemian hit A.J. Derby for a critical first down and some breathing room. Two plays later, Siemian scrambled for 14 yards, diving head-first as if to send a message that he was not going to settle for letting the defense handle things. On the very next play he found Bennie Fowler, who was lost in coverage, over the top for a 76-yard touchdown and an eight-point lead.

Had Fowler just taken a knee at the 5-yard line, Denver could have iced the clock and walked away with a one-point victory. Instead, the Denver defense had to make one last stand.

The Denver defense couldn’t hold the lead, racking up three penalties for 15 yards and two automatic first downs on Kansas City’s final drive while the Chiefs moved the ball 75 yards for a controversial touchdown and two-point conversion. Tyreek Hill again hurt Denver, catching the ball at the goal line with 12 seconds left.

After Hill was initially ruled down just shy of the end zone, the referees stopped the clock and reviewed the play – eventually giving Hill the touchdown. Alex Smith found Demetrius Harris for the conversion and the game was suddenly tied. It was a strange turn of events, as the referees stopped the game and reviewed a non-turnover, non-scoring play.

Denver took a knee and took the game to overtime where they won the toss and embarked on a 49-yard drive to put three points on the board and put the game back in the defense’s hands. Trevor Siemian converted two third downs, but was sacked on the third at the KC 36-yard line to force the field goal.

Things didn’t start well when Kansas City took over, as Kayvon Webster took a penalty for too many men, giving the Chiefs the ball on the 40-yard line to start the drive. Alex Smith couldn’t convert a third down of his own from the Denver 19, though and Kansas City would settle for a tying field goal.

A.J. Derby made another huge third-down conversion on Denver’s next possession, reeling in a 10-yard pass to keep the drive alive. Chris Jones batted down a critical second-down pass attempt to force Denver into a third-and-10. Siemian tried to go over the top to Bennie Fowler again, but the ball was just out of his diving reach. Gary Kubiak gave Brandon McManus a 62-yard attempt for the win, but McManus drove a line drive wide left that gave Kansas City the ball on their side of the field with 1:03 remaining in overtime.

DeMarcus Ware took a penalty to open the drive and things would only get worse from there. Alex Smith connected on his next two passes to set up Cairo Santos for the game-winning field goal. Santos ricocheted the kick off the left upright, but in and the Chiefs escaped with the win.

The loss drops Denver out of the playoff picture and with a huge hill to climb in the division. At 7-4, the Broncos are tied with the Dolphins, but Miami holds the better conference winning percentage. At 1-3 in the AFC West, Denver now has to worry about tiebreakers within its own division should it regain any ground on Miami. A road game at Kansas City on Christmas Night suddenly becomes a daunting task.

Here’s what folks in the Denver media (and beyond) had to say about how the second half unfolded for Denver’s offense, which found surprising life, as well as how the overtime played out…