The Denver Broncos fell short in their comeback rally from a 27-0 deficit against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs and made things interesting in an emotional game at Empower Field at Mile High. How did Jerry Jeudy provide a spark and a blueprint for the Broncos offense for the remainder of the season?

Denver Broncos surrenders 27 first-half points, erase deficit behind Jerry Jeudy effort

In the first matchup between Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes between the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs. It would be the second matchup between Wilson and Mahomes. Still, Mahomes and company struck first after orchestrating a drive downfield attacking the Broncos’ defense in the flats, settling for a 35-yard field goal by Harrison Butker to go up early on 3-0.

Wilson and the Denver offense faced two third and long plays early on their first drive of the game. Kendall Hinton, an unsung hero on the season picked up first downs on both plays with Wilson finding him underneath. Oddly enough, the Broncos’ offense had more third-down conversions on their first drive of the game than they did last Sunday in their loss against the Baltimore Ravens. However, the offense was unable to convert on 3rd and 11, and Corliss Waitman was forced to punt it away.

After surrendering several chunk plays in the flats early on their first series, the Broncos’ defense adjusted short, but Travis Kelce took advantage deep in the middle of the field, hauling in a 38-yard reception as pressure nearly got to Mahomes. Denver’s defense buckled down, forcing the Chiefs to kick another field goal from 45 yards that gave Kansas City a 6-0 lead with 2:53 in the first quarter. Russ and company would be up again looking to respond with points.

The offense would hardly do that as Kansas City attacked rookie lineman Luke Wattenberg early on with pressure, sacking Wilson and forcing Denver into a third and long and failing to convert, leading to another Waitman punt. Denver’s offense didn’t have the firepower to hang with the Chiefs in a game like this. Mahomes reeled in another Sportscenter-esque play, underhanding a pass to Jerick McKinnon over the top of a Broncos defender for a 56-yard touchdown to give the Chiefs a 13-0 lead.

The feeling of doom set in at Empower Field at Mile High as Broncos fans knew Denver’s offense couldn’t do anything to trim the deficit if history had shown any indicator this season. Another quick punt by Denver gave the Chiefs the ball back once again. With Denver’s defense struggling in the first half, the Chiefs’ offense marched downfield once again to the tune of averaging a gain of 10.0 yards per play. McKinnon found paydirt once again from Mahomes to give the Chiefs a 20-0 advantage with 7:16 remaining in the first half. Boo birds rang out loudly at Empower Field at Mile High.

Things went from bad to worse for Denver as Wilson was intercepted on 4th and 2 by Willie Gay who returned it 47 yards for a touchdown, extending the Chiefs’ lead to 27-0 in the second quarter. After another Broncos punt, the Chiefs took over possession but surrendered it after Josey Jewell dove in front of a Patrick Mahomes pass to give Denver’s offense the ball, down 27 points.

One key for the rest of the season for the Broncos should be making Jerry Jeudy a focal point of the offense. Returning fully from an ankle injury that sidelined him for various weeks, Jeudy was targeted three times in the first half, with one reception going for a 17-yard catch and run, and the other being an over-the-shoulder touchdown for 18 yards to cut Denver’s deficit to 27-7.

Denver’s defense would generate another interception off of Patrick Mahomes in the second quarter, this time with Patrick Surtain snagging a low throw to give Denver’s offense the ball back with 1:06 remaining and one timeout. Wilson orchestrated a drive that moved Denver downfield, ultimately leading to him finding Jeudy wide open once again for another touchdown, this time from eight yards out. Suddenly, Denver went into halftime trailing 27-14 rather than 27-0.

Broncos reliant second-half effort not enough in comeback attempt vs Mahomes

Russell Wilson and the Broncos received the ball to open up the second half, looking to ride the momentum they found at the end of the second half. The Broncos’ offense capitalized in a big way after Wilson connected with Marlon Mack out of the backfield who rumbled for a 66-yard score on a catch and run to cut Kansas City’s deficit to 27-21. Momentum Denver.

After surrendering 295 yards of offense in the first half, the Broncos’ defense capitalized on all of the momentum percolating through Empower Field at Mile High, sacking Mahomes on 3rd and 5 with Jonathon Cooper and DeShawn Williams getting home. Denver’s offense got the ball back.

The Chiefs’ defense adjusted tightly on a screen play by Denver’s offense, sniffing it out for a four-yard loss. Despite Greg Dulcich’s efforts to pick up a first down on 3rd and 11, Denver’s offense would have to punt it back to Mahomes.

Some of the old Broncos’ offense crept back in as Wilson was sacked on back-to-back plays, forcing Denver to punt it away on 4th and 29. Wilson held the ball too long on the first attempt, but an apparent miscommunication across the offensive line on third down led to the second sack. Denver’s defense would be tasked with trying to recapture momentum.

After punting their first two possessions of the second half, the Chiefs’ offense re-established momentum and drove downfield against Denver’s defense, capitalizing on several chunk plays to move into the red zone. On 3rd and goal, Denver’s defense pressured Mahomes who eluded and spun around in his normal fashion, finding McKinnon wide open for a touchdown to extend the Chiefs’ lead to 34-21 on a 9-play 72-yard drive.

Facing a 4th and 4 on their next offensive series, Wilson looked deep across the middle to Jeudy who was interfered with by a Chiefs defender, giving the Broncos offense a first down inside the red zone. Two holding calls on the offensive line backed Denver up to a 2nd and 34. Wilson found Dulcich for a big gain down the middle, then Wilson used his legs to scramble for 14 yards, picking up the first down. On his first down scramble, Wilson took a big hit from a Chiefs defender. He walked off the field with medical trainers, going straight into the blue tent.

Brett Rypien took over under center and found Jerry Jeudy on 4th and 7 in the middle of the endzone for a touchdown, cutting the Broncos’ deficit to 34-28 in the fourth quarter. Say what you want about the Broncos season, but seeing this type of fight and grit was much needed. Could the defense generate a stop in a one-score game?

Facing a 3rd and 1, the Broncos defense rallied against Chiefs fullback Michael Burton, wrapping him up for no gain to force Kansas City to punt. Chiefs punter Tommy Townsend boomed the ball off his leg where the ball bounced and rolled out of bounds at the five-yard line, netting 61 yards and forcing Rypien and the Broncos offense to face a long field.

Denver’s offense couldn’t convert on 3rd and 11 and was forced to punt it back to Kansas City with seven minutes remaining, with the Chiefs returning the ball past midfield. Denver’s defense made two stops before Josey Jewell jumped in front of another Mahomes pass, snagging his second interception of the game and giving the Broncos the ball near midfield. Unfortunately, Brett Rypien’s pass on third down floated in the air as he was hit, leading to L’Jarius Sneed intercepting the pass and giving Kansas City possession again.

The Chiefs picked up several key first downs on their ensuing drive to hold off the Broncos furious comeback rally and held on for the win. Despite another Broncos loss, the amount of fight and resiliency are something that Broncos Country has been begging for all season, and they nearly did the unthinkable against the Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs.

Russell Wilson was downgraded to out with a concussion. The Denver Broncos will host the Arizona Cardinals next Sunday at Empower Field at Mile High, and Wilson’s status for that game is highly questionable as he enters concussion protocol this week.

Denver Broncos news and notes

Gameday inactives.
The following players were inactive for Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Cornerback Michael Ojemudia and defensive lineman Elijah Garcia were healthy scratches. Wide receiver Courtland Sutton (hamstring), fullback/tight end Andrew Beck (hamstring), offensive guard Dalton Risner (back/shoulder), linebacker Dakota Allen (hamstring), and Eyioma Uwazurike (illness) were all inactive on Sunday.

Injury Report.
Running back Mike Boone was carted off with an ankle injury in the second quarter after a rushing attempt and did not return.

Broncos make various lineup changes on Sunday.
With Dalton Risner missing Sunday’s game against Kansas City, the Broncos started rookie lineman Luke Wattenberg at left guard. After a rough first half by the rookie, Denver came out in the second half with Quinn Bailey starting at left guard. On Denver’s second series of the second half, Netane Muti was in at left guard and finished the game for the Broncos offense.