Monday, January 18, 2021

Kansas City Squeeze Past Denver To Reach Play Offs

Kansas City fans can celebrate another year in the post season. The Kansas City Chiefs didn’t have it easy as they won 22-16 against the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Broncos did well on the run game, with Melvin Gordon running for 131 yards from 15 carries. However, the wideouts failed to record similar numbers. Tight end Noah Fant was the leading receiver, with 57 yards. Wide receiver Tim Patrick caught the two touchdown receptions thrown by Drew Lock but the Missouri native also threw for two interceptions.

Whilst the Broncos struggled in the passing game and were successful in the run game, the Chiefs were the opposite. Kansas City put up the numbers up in the air but struggled in the run game, with Le’Veon Bell the leading Chiefs rusher with just 40 yards from 11 carries.

Le’Veon Bell in action during the 22-16 Chiefs win.

Patrick Mahomes was not at his usual explosive best, with just one touchdown pass. He did manage to throw for 318 yards and would often get a crucial pass on third down to push the Chiefs down the field. This allowed kicker Harrison Butker to play an important role in the win, as his five field goals helped the Chiefs squeeze past Denver.

Both teams had a tight end as their leading receiver, with Kansas City’s Travis Kelce leading the team. Kelce recorded 136 yards and a touchdown. He was so often the player to catch the crucial passes from Mahomes.

Travis Kelce was key on offense for Kansas City against the Denver Broncos.

Kelce has turned into such a reliable weapon for his quarterback, which is evident with Kelce having caught for the second most receiving yards this season (1,114) for any position. With Tyreek Hill in third place (1,079), this really shows the plethora of options available for this Chiefs offense as they look to win back-to-back Super Bowls.

A Slow Start From Both Teams

Patrick Mahomes and Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock.

The game started off with neither team getting it going on offense, with no touchdowns from either team in the first quarter as it ended 3-3. This has been typical of the Chiefs who have typically struggled to score touchdowns in the first quarter this season.

We have seen improvements in this, with the Chiefs having scored a combined 54 points in first quarters in their last six games. The Chiefs only scored 26 combined first quarter points in their opening six games. However, they have still only scored touchdowns in six of their first twelve games this season.

The Impressive Denver Broncos Running Game

Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

Denver threatened in the second quarter with Melvin Gordon making some big yardage gains, with a 65 yard gain just before the 9:00 mark in the second quarter. Gordon would rush for a further 6 yards as the Denver Broncos ended the drive with a touchdown pass from Lock to Patrick.

This was one area where the Chiefs have had issues and where they continue to struggle, being the fifth worst team this season at stopping the run. Kansas City had the seventh worst run defense in 2019 and the sixth worst in 2018. This was the Chiefs’ achilles heel in the 2018 season and this will need to be improved when it comes to the postseason.

Denver did well to keep themselves in the game, with Denver linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu getting a sack on 3rd and Goal. This forced Kansas City to kick a field goal.

Denver capitalised on this, as the subsequent drive resulting in a touchdown on an impressive drive. KJ Hamler managed to break a tackle on 3rd down to move the sticks and give the Broncos a fresh set of downs. He would get a further seven yard gain on the way to Patrick’s touchdown. Patrick would record 31 yards from two catches during the possession.

The Chiefs were denied a fourth quarter 48 yard touchdown from Tyreek Hill after a holding call brought the play back. This would result in a punt, as would Denver’s following drive. Kansas City decided to then run the clock down, with running back Darrel Williams getting five of his six carries during the drive. The Broncos got to ball back with just over a minute left. On fourth down, Lock threw an interception to Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu which put the game to bed.

Kansas City will be disappointed at their below par performance but they will take the win that secured them their playoff spot. A good team does not win perfectly every week and that should be the narrative taken away from this performance by head coach Andy Reid. Meanwhile the Broncos’ slim playoff hopes are all but over after this defeat. This narrow loss will give Denver hope coming in to the rest of the season and into the 2021 season.

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