The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Denver Broncos 30-6 Thursday night but might have lost something more meaningful for an undetermined amount of time.
With the Chiefs holding a 10-6 lead over the Denver Broncos in the second quarter and threatening for more points at the Broncos’ 5-yard line, Patrick Mahomes suffered a right knee injury on a quarterback sneak.
Players immediately waved to the sidelines for medical personnel, all of whom rushed to Mahomes’ side as the stadium went silent. Chiefs and Broncos players were on their knees as Mahomes was tended to, but the signal-caller eventually got to his feet and received assistance leaving the field. Then, Mahomes went straight to the locker room without assistance before being declared out.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who secured his 200th career win, didn’t have an update on Mahomes’ status after the game.
“We’ll wait until we get back to give you further evaluation on it,” Reid said. “And I’ll just leave it at that.”
A source told The Star that Mahomes suffered a dislocated kneecap and there doesn’t appear to be a fracture. Mahomes is scheduled Friday to undergo an MRI and more information should be known then, the source said, but early indications appear positive.
Reid indicated as much when asked after the game if the two had talked after the injury.
“He’s in a good place,” Reid said, noting that a cart went out to retrieve Mahomes from the field but he refused to get into it. “He was in a good place on the field when it happened. Our doctor was phenomenal calming everything down, he calmed the storm right threre. Patrick was good and felt very comfortable with him. He refused to get in that cart.”
Meanwhile, the Chiefs didn’t falter in the game without the league’s reigning MVP.
Instead, the Chiefs rallied on both sides of the ball by scoring 10 straight points to end the second quarter with veteran Matt Moore under center to take a 20-6 halftime lead before securing an eighth straight win over the Broncos.
Harrison Butker capped the drive on which Mahomes was hurt with a 20-yard field goal, then the Chiefs defense came up big after linebacker Anthony Hitchens produced a sack-fumble on Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco. Linebacker Reggie Ragland, who received his first start of the night, scooped up the loose ball at the Broncos’ 5-yard line and ran it back for a touchdown.
The Chiefs’ defense came up big Thursday night with nine sacks, which marked an obvious season high, and a turnover. Hitchens, defensive end Frank Clark and defensive Alex Okafor each recorded two sacks. The nine sacks tied as the third-most in a single game in team history.
“Honestly, we didn’t like the way we played last week and we couldn’t get out here quick enough,” Okafor said. “We wanted to come out here and show what kind of a team we are, and we did exactly that.”
With the Chiefs’ pass defense clicking, the run defense stepped up and held the Broncos to 71 yards rushing and a touchdown on 21 carries, a notable achievement given the past month’s struggles.
Opponents had gashed the Chiefs on the ground lately, totaling 761 yards and over the past four games. The Broncos found the going tough with Ragland inserted into the starting lineup alongside Hitchens and Damien Wilson in the Chiefs’ 4-3 base defense.
The Broncos entered Week 7 on a two-game winning streak behind their defense and running game, but rushers Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman found yards difficult to acquire, combining to average 3.4 yards per attempt. With the Broncos becoming one-dimensional, the Chiefs’ defense limited Denver to converting just one of 13 third-down attempts.
“I think everyone was in their gaps and everyone knew that if we did our jobs individually, collectively it would all come together,” said rookie defensive tackle Khalen Saunders, who totaled two tackles.
Hitchens, who missed Week 6 with a groin injury, returned with a vengeance in leading a spirited defensive effort and finished with six tackles, two sacks and two quarterback hits. Ragland produced an exceptional all-around game with two tackles, a sack, a quarterback hit and a fumble recovery.
The group effort left the Chiefs’ head coach impressed.
“Our defense, I mean, what can you say?” Reid said. “Our defense stepped up big tonight against an offense that has been playing well, especially in the run game and they’re very talented.”
But the focus falls on Mahomes despite the Chiefs’ impressive win, which snapped a two-game slide and improved the team’s record to 5-2.
“It was out of whack,” tight end Travis Kelce of seeing Mahomes go down. “I couldn’t even describe it. You looked at it and were like, ‘Oh no, there is something wrong with him. He didn’t seem like he was in too much pain. It is hard to really figure out what was really going on.”
Running back LeSean McCoy echoed Kelce’s assessment.
“I was sad, then I was like, ‘Is he OK?’” McCoy said. “Just trying to be caring. He’s our franchise, but good thing it’s not that bad.”
Before suffering the injury, Mahomes completed 10 of 11 passes for 76 yards, which included a 21-yard scoring strike to rookie wide receiver Mecole Hardman.
With a 13-yard completion to Kelce on the Chiefs’ opening possession, Mahomes became the fastest player to the 7,500-yard passing mark in just 24 career games. Mahomes passed Hall of Famer Kurt Warner, who previously set the record at 27 games.
But there is an obvious dropoff from Mahomes to Moore, who was coaching high school football before the Chiefs signed him in August.
Moore finished the game completing 10 of 19 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown, which came on a 57-yard strike to wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who has three touchdown catches over the past two games.
Moore should be the starter for the time being until more is known about Mahomes’ injury following Friday’s MRI.
“Matt did a nice job of stepping in there,” Reid said. “We didn’t have to really back down on anything we had called. We were able to just pick up from right where we left off, and I was proud of him.”
The Chiefs get an extended weekend off before returning next week to prepare for Week 8’s matchup against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football.
After the game, the TV broadcast showed Mahomes encouraging his teammates in the locker room with a black wrap around his hurt knee.
“Take care of yourself this weekend enjoy yourself be smart we’ve got more to go, baby!” Mahomes shouted.
Mahomes also took to social media and tweeted: “Awesome team win! Love my brothers! Thank you for all the prayers! Everything looking good so far!”