The key plays, stats and grades from the Kansas City Chiefs’ 30-27 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday at Mile High Stadium.
Player of the game: Receiver Tyreek Hill turned in a historic performance, becoming the first player since Gale Sayers in 1965 to record rushing, receiving and return touchdowns in a single game.
Reason to hope: The Chiefs showed a ton of moxie by not only mounting a game-tying drive with three minutes left, but prevailing in a hostile environment against a Denver team that was much healthier and much more rested, coming off a bye. Kudos.
Reason to mope: The offense struggled in a big way for the majority of the game. Super Bowl teams typically have defenses like Denver’s, and what the Chiefs and Smith put on tape Sunday was not promising (until their backs were against the wall, at least).
Looking ahead: The Chiefs, 8-3, will face the Atlanta Falcons, 7-4, in a road test at noon Sunday at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons are coming off a 38-19 home win over the Arizona Cardinals.
Rushing offense: When the going got tough early, the Chiefs turned to their running game to get the job done. Spencer Ware rushed for 64 yards on 17 carries while the Chiefs rushed for 83 total yards (the Broncos were surrendering 123.7 rushing yards per game entering the contest). But facing a crucial third-and-1 at the Broncos’ 3, coach Andy Reid dialed up a direct snap to Ware that led to a jet sweep to Tyreek Hill, who scored from 3 yards out.
Passing offense: The Broncos were surrendering 194.3 passing yards per game entering the contest, and for most of the game, it appeared quarterback Alex Smith would not come close. A late rally, however, brought his final stat line to 26 of 44 for 220 yards. He was also sacked six times as he generally struggled whenever he couldn’t get the ball out quickly. Denver’s pass defense is elite, however, and there’s no doubt that despite a ton of rough spots, the passing game – and Smith – finally came through when it mattered.
Rushing defense: The Broncos were averaging 97.4 rushing yards per game entering the contest, and the Chiefs held them to 124 yards on 38 carries. Running back Devontae Booker has had a tough time getting going all year, but and he finished with 79 yards on 24 carries. This was a solid effort.
Passing defense: The Broncos were averaging 227.3 passing yards per game entering the contest, and while the Chiefs got to quarterback Trevor Siemian – sacking him five times – the defense surrendered some brutal long touchdowns. Siemian finished 20 of 34 for 368 yards and three touchdowns. Those are marks way, way, way ahead of what he’d been doing, but again, this was a spotlight game and the unit came up big when it mattered.
Special teams: The special teams played a significant role in this one, and Dave Toub’s units delivered. Hill’s 86-yard touchdown on a free kick in the second quarter was clutch; it gave the Chiefs a 9-0 lead, which kept a struggling offense from playing from behind against an elite pass defense. The Chiefs also recovered a muffed punt early in the fourth quarter that prevented the Broncos from getting the ball with terrific field position, while Santos drilled the game winner in overtime.
Coaching: Reid takes fair criticism for being too cute in the red zone, but give him credit; his third-and-1 jet sweep to Hill worked. The horizontal stuff on offense is repetitive and frustrating for fans but against this defense, it was defensible; so was the first-half commitment to running the ball. Reid also gets some credit for the mammoth game-tying drive late in regulation and for two clutch overtime drives. After playing well all day, the defense bent late but came up big, finally in overtime. This was generally an entertaining showdown between two good teams, and you certainly can’t say the Chiefs weren’t ready to play.