By Terrance Turner
Jan. 8, 2022
Two divisional rivals faced off today, in the final game of the regular season. The Kansas City Chiefs traveled to Colorado to face the Denver Broncos at Mile High. While the 7-9 Broncos had little to play for except their home-field crowd, the 11-5 Chiefs were fighting for a #1 spot. A win against Denver and a loss by the Tennessee Titans would give them the #1 seed in the AFC. But it wouldn’t be easy: the Chiefs were missing running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (shoulder), and star receiver Tyreek Hill hurt his heel early in warmups.
The Chiefs struck first, with quarterback Patrick Mahomes locating tight end Travis Kelce for a three-yard touchdown. That TD is the 57th of Kelce’s career. He becomes the fastest tight end to reach 9,000 receptions.
Broncos quarterback Drew Lock responded with a five-yard touchdown run, tying the game. In the second quarter, he added a 23-yard rushing touchdown — one of the longest of his career — to give Denver the lead. Kansas City managed a 34-yard field goal, courtesy of kicker Harrison Butker. But the Broncos led 14-10 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Mahomes found receiver Jerick McKinnon. Spinning around one Denver defender and trucking through another, McKinnon powered his way to the end zone for a 14-yard score. But less than two minutes later, Denver running back Melvin Gordon ran right through the Kansas City defense, dashing 47 yards to the end zone for the touchdown. The Broncos led 21-17 at the end of the third quarter.
As the fourth quarter began, the Chiefs faced an uphill climb. The Broncos ran right through the Chiefs defense, picking up yards on play after play. They got as far as the 10-yard line. But everything changed when Lock handed the ball off to Gordon on 2nd and 3. Melvin Gordon was hit immediately by Melvin Ingram — and lost the ball. Gordon fumbled, and Chiefs rookie linebacker Nick Bolton picked the ball up, racing all the way to the house. He went 86 yards, the largest scoop and score of the entire NFL season, per ABC.
Kansas City went for two. Mahomes ran practically untouched into the end zone, making it 28-21.
Denver responded with a lengthy drive that never reached the end zone. They settled for a field goal. That gave Kansas City a slim four-point lead. They embarked on a drive that initially appeared to stall in the red zone. Andrew Wylie was flagged for a false start, which put the Chiefs back at 3rd down and 8. But Travis Kelce saved the day with a dramatic high-flying catch to put his team at 1st and goal.
Kelce was shown limping to the sideline, however. (ABC reports indicate a hip injury.) His injury killed any chances of a red-zone scoring attempt. Instead, the Chiefs took a knee on four straight plays and walked away. They won, 28-24.
The Denver Broncos have now lost 13 straight games to the Kansas City Chiefs. They will miss the playoffs for the sixth straight year. The Chiefs, meanwhile, are facing the possibility of earning the No. 1 seed and earning an first-round bye. They are aiming to reach the Super Bowl for the third straight year.