The key plays, stats and grades from the Kansas City Chiefs’ 33-10 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
Player of the game: Tight end Travis Kelce killed it on Sunday, catching 11 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown. His 160 receiving yards were the most by a Chiefs tight end in a single game since 2000, when Tony Gonzalez recorded 147 in a game.
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Reason to hope: The Chiefs showed a renewed commitment to getting the ball to their playmakers, as Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill (six carries) each saw a fair number of touches. The offense also cashed in for 12 points in the second half, ending the offense’s three-game run of scoreless second halves.
Reason to mope: You have to nitpick a bit here, but the offense was still a tad sluggish, and kicker Cairo Santos missed a 39-yard field goal and an extra point. Alex Smith also had an interception that led to a score.
Looking ahead: The Chiefs, 11-4, will travel to San Diego to face the Chargers next Sunday in their regular-season finale. The Chargers fell to 5-10 with a 20-17 loss to previously-winless Cleveland this weekend.
Rushing offense: The Broncos entered the game ranked 29th in run defense (127.9 yards per game), and the Chiefs finished with 246 yards. Alex Smith scrambled for a 10-yard touchdown run. Hill took a handoff and ran for a 70-yard touchdown – his second long touchdown in as many weeks. The Chiefs did a nice job beating the Broncos with power and speed, and absolutely deserved this grade. This group up front deserves some credit after they failed to close out Tennessee last week. Nice job, guys.
Passing offense: The Broncos entered the game ranked first in pass defense (183 yards per game), and the Chiefs finished with 246 against a nasty defensive front. Kelce caught an 80-yard touchdown on a tight end screen and proved to be unguardable; nothing the Broncos did to stop him worked. Smith also threw an interception after getting drilled by a free blitzer, which set up the Broncos’ only first-half touchdown and nearly knocked the grade down a peg ... until 346-pound nose tackle Dontari Poe got in the mix, throwing a jump pass – a jump pass – to Demetrius Harris for a late touchdown. Can’t give you a “C” if you by 23 points, outpace your opponent’s defensive average in this category and have your nose tackle throw a touchdown pass.
Rushing defense: The Broncos entered the game ranked 27th in rushing (91.3), and finished the game with only 63. Devontae Booker paced the Broncos with 27 yards and a touchdown on five carries. The Broncos’ yards-per-carry average is a tad high – 4.5 yards per carry – but they were held under their per-game average, overall, and the run defense was stout when it needed to be.
Passing defense: The Broncos entered the game ranked 18th in passing (235.4), and finished the game with only 183, as quarterback Trevor Siemian was harrassed into a rough 17-for-43 performance, though he wasn’t sacked. Siemian was also intercepted late by safety Eric Berry, and the Chiefs forced another defensive turnover in the fourth quarter when Booker fumbled a pass, which was forced by and recovered by safety Daniel Sorensen.
Special teams: Santos missed a 39-yard field goal, but he did make one from 27 yards out early in the fourth quarter and another from 39 later in the quarter. He also missed an extra point, which hurts this grade significantly. Safety Eric Murray also sniffed out a fake after the Broncos lined up for a 53-yard field goal, which prevented a Denver first down. Fullback Anthony Sherman also forced a fumble on a kick return, which led to a Chiefs field goal.
Coaching: Andy Reid received plenty of criticism last week for the Chiefs’ 19-17 loss to Tennessee, largely because of his inability to get the football to Hill and Kelce in a fruitless second half. The Chiefs, however, came out firing on all cylinders Sunday, as the Chiefs scored three touchdowns on their first four possessions and, get this, Hill and Kelce each scored touchdowns in the first quarter and recorded 10 offensive touches, total, in the first half. Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton had a nice gameplan, as well. Any time you can beat your rival by 23 points, you’ve done something right.