Chiefs end skid with ugly win over Broncos
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs needed a win in the worst way following back-to-back close losses, and that was exactly what Kansas City got Monday: an ugly 29-19 victory over the Denver Broncos fueled by turnovers and field goals.
“To lose two in a row, for us it was all about just getting back on track,” Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said. “Let’s just get back and rebound. We had two losses in five days, so for us, let’s just get back on track.”
The Chiefs (6-2) forced five Denver turnovers, including three interceptions of Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian, and Harrison Butker hit five field goals to help the Chiefs pull away in the second half.
Both offenses struggled much of the game. The Broncos did establish the run game, rushing for 177 yards. C.J. Anderson picked up 78 yards on 15 carries for Kansas City, while former Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles had 39 yards on eight carries in his return to Arrowhead Stadium.
While the Chiefs’ defense was opportunistic, the Kansas City offense rarely found a rhythm, scoring just 12 second-half points, all on field goals from Butker. The rookie kicker has connected on 18 consecutive field-goal attempts.
Tight end Travis Kelce paced the Chiefs’ offense, tallying 133 yards and a touchdown on seven catches. Smith delivered his most pedestrian performance of the season, finishing 14 of 31 for 202 yards and a score.
The Chiefs failed to convert on three trips inside the red zone, settling for two field goals and a turnover.
“I thought that was the big difference,” Smith said. “Missed opportunities in the red zone, lot of field goals obviously. If we’re able to capitalize and finish one of those off, it’s a different story, I felt like.”
The Broncos’ attempt at a second-half rally fell short. Running back Devontae Booker pulled Denver (3-4) within 20-13 thanks to a 6-yard touchdown run with 1:14 remaining in the third quarter.
After three Butker field goals extended the lead to 29-13, Siemian connected with tight end A.J. Derby for an 11-yard score, cutting the margin to 29-19 with 1:55 remaining in the game.
Siemian completed 19 of 36 passes for 198 yards and a touchdown. Broncos coach Vance Joseph seemed to place a lion’s share of the loss on Siemian’s inability to protect the football.
“Tonight, our defense played winning football in my opinion,” Joseph said. “Our offensive line blocked. We ran the ball for 177 and the pass (protection) was better. But it all falls back to turning the ball over five times. That’s insane. You can’t win turning the ball over five times.”
Siemian admitted he pressed at times, particularly on his third interception, a throw across his body over the middle of the field picked off by cornerback Kenneth Acker.
“We had plenty of time, I was just trying to get something going,” Siemian said. “We had plenty of time. I don’t need to be making stupid throws like that.”
Marcus Peters forced two first-quarter turnovers in helping the Chiefs build a 17-3 halftime lead.
Early in the first quarter, Peters pried the ball loose from Charles, scooping up the fumble and running 45 yards for a touchdown.
After Smith hooked up with Kelce for a 29-yard score to put Kansas City up 14-0, Peters struck again. The defensive back intercepted a pass from Siemian.
Kansas City’s pass rush, led by linebacker Justin Houston, forced Siemian from the pocket on numerous occasions. The pressure helped lead to turnovers, and Houston collected two of his team’s three sacks.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Houston’s performance proved timely with fellow pass rusher Dee Ford knocked out of the game due to a back injury. The team provided Houston additional rest this week to save wear and tear on his surgically repaired knee after he played 79 snaps in the team’s loss to the Oakland Raiders last week.
“He’s coming off that knee (injury), and he’s battled it kind of all the way through to rehab it and get it right,” Reid said. “We just kind of monitored it and he came out and just gave it up today, especially with Dee not being able to play.”
The Chiefs appeared on their way to making it a three-score game with just more than four minutes remaining in the first quarter. With Kansas City facing a second-and-goal from the Broncos 9-yard line, wide receiver Tyreek Hill took a lateral from Smith and tossed a pass in the end zone toward tight end Ross Travis. The throw instead landed in the hands of Denver safety Darian Stewart.
Kansas City threatened again late in the first half. Broncos linebacker Shaquil Barrett stripped the ball from Smith, however, recovering the fumble and thwarting the drive.
NOTES: Chiefs C Mitch Morse returned to the starting lineup for the first time after missing five games with sprained foot. Zach Fulton, who was starting in his place, moved to fill in for RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who missed his fourth game with a sprained knee. ... Chiefs TE Travis Kelce’s 83 receiving yards in the first quarter rank as the second most for a quarter in his career behind the 106 yards he posted against Denver in the first quarter of Week 16 last season. ... Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt finished with 46 yards rushing and 22 yards receiving, bringing an end to his NFL record of seven consecutive games with more 100 yards from scrimmage to start a career. ... Broncos LB Shane Ray returned to the starting lineup after missing the team’s first seven games with a wrist injury. ... Chiefs LB Dee Ford (back) and WR Albert Wilson (hamstring) both left the game early in the second half and did not return.