By DENNIS GEORGATOS The Sports Xchange
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DENVER – Von Miller was breathing down Patrick Mahomes’ neck on one pass rush after another but the chase did not end well for the Denver Broncos.
Patrick Mahomes engineered two fourth-quarter touchdown drives, including the go-ahead score ending in Kareem Hunt’s 4-yard touchdown run with 1:39 remaining, and the Kansas City Chiefs remained undefeated by beating the Broncos 27-23 Monday night.
“It’s tough,” Miller said. “He’s fast. We’ve got to get him down. That’s just plain and simple.”
Mahomes completed 28 of 45 for 304 yards and a touchdown, breaking through in the fourth quarter against a defense that had bottled him up for much of the night. The right-handed Mahomes completed 13 of 16 throws during the final two drives, including a remarkable left-handed throw for a first-down as Miller tried to wrap him up for a sack.
“I was gaining ground on him and I kind of just _ it just felt like he was getting ready to throw it,” Miller said. “I was just trying to get down there and clip the ankles. I knew he was getting ready to throw it. But I didn’t know he threw it with his left hand. He’s a great quarterback.”
Kansas City improved to 4-0 and Denver fell to 2-2.
Case Keenum completed 21 of 33 for 245 yards. Phillip Lindsay had 69 yards rushing on 12 carries while Royce Freeman ran for 67 yards on eight attempts as the Broncos pursued a ball-control style of attack intended to minimize possessions by the Chiefs’ high-powered offense. And it worked for most of the game.
Brandon McManus’ third field goal, a 46-yarder with 12:47 remaining, boosted Denver’s lead to 10 points but Mahomes and the Chiefs offense responded with a 75-yard drive, getting key yardage on completions to tight end Travis Kelce, who had been bottled up much of the night. Mahomes connected with Kelce on a 2-yard scoring pass to pull the Chiefs to within three points with 6:27 left to play.
Kansas City’s defense followed with a key stop and Marquette King shanked a punt that traveled just 35 yards to the Chiefs’ 40.
That set the stage for a go-ahead drive in which Mahomes showed ingenuity and remarkable athleticism to defy Denver’s all-out pass rush.
“That kid made some plays,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph said. “We couldn’t get him in the ground. We had a bunch of good pressures. We pushed him out of the pocket, we lost contain a couple of times and he stepped out of a couple of sacks.”
With Miller bearing down on him, the right-handed Mahomes switched the ball to his left hand and shoveled a 6-yard completion to Tyreek Hill. Then, he overcame a 2nd-and-30 situation after a pair of penalties that set back the Chiefs. He made a 23-yard completion on the run to Demarcus Robinson followed by a 35-yard completion to Demetrius Harris, all the while dodging pressure. Hunt ran twice to cover the last 11 yards, the second a 4-yard touchdown to put the Chiefs back on top.
“It is very frustrating, because we felt like we outplayed this team, out-schemed this team and it came down really to three plays defensively at the very end that cost us,” Broncos linebacker Shane Ray said. “I don’t like to lose, no one does, obviously. When it’s a game like this where we definitely should have won, it doesn’t feel good."
Keenum drove the Broncos to the Chiefs 28 but a fourth down pass fell incomplete in the final seconds, sealing the Chiefs’ sixth win in a row over the Broncos, including the last four in Denver.
Keenum lamented the incomplete pass right before, a ball that was just beyond the reach of Demaryius Thomas, who was open along the right sideline and likely could have scored if the two had been able to make the connection.
“The one over D.T.’s head,” Keenum said. “They were playing cover two. At that point it’s kind of just take shots. There’s not much time left and you do whatever you can do to try to take a shot. It was close. I want to watch it on film but it felt really close. There’s a few, especially those type plays that I’ll lose a little sleep over, thinking about it, laying at night in bed. It’s a tough one. It stings.”
A 19-yard run by Lindsay and an 18-yard gain on an end around by Emmanuel Sanders sparked a drive that ended in a 1-yard touchdown run by Lindsay. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick’s pass interference penalty for grabbing receiver Courtland Sutton gave the Broncos a 1st-and-goal at the Kansas City 5 and Lindsay finished the drive with a pair of runs for a 20-13 lead late in the third quarter.
Denver cornerback Adam Jones knocked away a pass in the end zone intended for wide receiver Chris Conley and the Chiefs again settled for a field goal by Harrison Butker of 21 yards, evening the score at 13-all with 9:32 remaining in the third quarter.
The Broncos took a 13-10 halftime lead on McManus’ second field goal of the game, a 34-yarder as time expired in the second quarter.
Denver evened the score at 10-all on Freeman’s 14-yard touchdown run. He took a pitch from Keenum and bolted through traffic on the left side before faking his way past cornerback Kendall Fuller and dragging linebacker Anthony Hitchens the last few yards into the end zone. It was the rookie’s third game in a row with a touchdown.
McManus kicked a 42-yard field goal to culminate the Broncos’ opening possession. Hunt shook free for a 45-yard run to set up Mahome’s 8-yard scramble for a touchdown. Butker kicked a 33-yard field goal midway through the first quarter after cornerback Bradley Roby knocked away a third down pass intended for Sammy Watkins.
Notes: RT Jared Veldheer left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury and did not return. ... Rookie WR Courtland Sutton had a 42-yard reception in the second quarter, the second longest reception of the season for the Broncos.
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