When we last saw the Denver Broncos, they were running like bandits out of New Orleans. Denver somehow, miraculously, stole a two-point victory over the Saints on a blocked PAT when a loss seemed all but inevitable. The universe has apparently applied its balance.

On Sunday Night Football, in a game the NFL flexed into primetime, Denver’s special teams cost them a win and set their playoff hopes back severely as the Broncos fell to Chiefs 30-27 in overtime.

The miscues were far too frequent and spanned the entirety of the game, even into the extra period. They started in the first half with the first of two Jordan Norwood muffed punts.

Denver and Kansas City had traded eight punts to open the game when Norwood couldn’t corral a Dustin Colquitt kick at the 3-yard line. Trevor Siemian and the offense, which had generated just 37 yards and allowed three sacks on four previous possessions, finally buckled for good when Trevor Siemian was strip-sacked in the end zone for a safety three plays later.

Although Norwood’s miscue didn’t directly produce the safety, it put a struggling unit in a compromising position.

Things would go from bad to worse on the ensuing free kick, when Tyreek Hill would go nearly untouched for 86 yards and a touchdown. Kansas City took a 9-3 lead into halftime, almost exclusively because of special teams blunders.

And those were just the plays that led to points. Denver took multiple penalties on punts and Riley Dixon did not get off to a good start kicking the ball himself in a forgettable first half for the special teams unit.

In the second half, an illegal formation penalty on a Kansas City field goal try gave the Chiefs a fresh set of downs in the red zone. Hill would again burn the Broncos, scoring his second touchdown of the night. He would add another to send the game to overtime – although special teams can’t be blamed for that one. The net point difference was minus-four on the touchdown versus the field goal. Enough that Denver never would have been playing in overtime without it.

Hill’s touchdown gave Kansas City the lead, but Denver’s defense would do its part with their next opportunity to try and flip the field in the Broncos’ favor. The defense forced a three-and-out for -10 yards and Denver was prepared to take over with the ball likely on their side of the 50.

Instead, Norwood muffed his second punt of the game – this one bouncing off his facemask to be recovered by Kansas City.

Denver forced another punt and, thankfully, the offense responded with a spectacular scoring drive of 88-yards to put Denver back on top.

That was the last major miscue of the second half, although the punt unit did take another penalty before the final whistle blew on regulation.

(There were plenty of oddities to the way regulation ended that didn’t involve special teams. You can read about those HERE.)

In the overtime period, Brandon McManus was true on a 44-yarder that put the pressure on Kansas City to respond with at least a field goal to keep the game going.

That pressure was alleviated somewhat, however, when the kicking unit gave up a 41-yard return on the ensuing kickoff to give Alex Smith good field position. Denver came out of the kickoff and quickly took a 12 men on the field penalty to exacerbate things. Cairo Santos connected from 37 yards, sending the game into sudden-death mode.

Denver’s final special teams snafu will be debated for some time, especially if the Broncos fail to make the playoffs, but can hardly be pinned entirely on the players. Facing a fourth-and-10 with 1:08 remaining from the Kansas City 44-yard line, Gary Kubiak elected to try and win the game on a 62-yard field goal.

There was a strong wind inside the stadium pregame, which had subsided, but McManus snapped a low liner left of his target. It was a gamble on Kubiak’s part, as McManus’ career long is 57 yards.

The gamble didn’t pay off. Kansas City had a short field and even though Santos clanked his 34-yard game winner off the upright and in, the Chiefs walked away with the win and playoff positioning that will be hard to beat down the stretch.

With the loss, Denver falls into seventh place in the AFC. Denver (7-4) is behind both Oakland (9-2) in the AFC West and trails Kansas City (8-3) and now Miami (7-4) in the Wild Card because of tie breakers. Denver still must face Oakland, Kansas City and the No. 1 seed in the AFC, New England (9-2), in the final five weeks of the season.

Special teams delivered an unlikely win in New Orleans. They likely dashed Denver’s playoff hopes at home against Kansas City.

Here’s what some of our friends in the Denver media were saying about the special teams gaffes as they played out on Sunday night…