Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs put their perfect record on the line against the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football. For a while, it looked like the Broncos would end their five-game losing streak to the Chiefs. They never trailed in the second half … until the final two minutes of the game, after Mahomes engineered the type of game-winning drive that clinches MVP awards on Oct. 1.
Here are the biggest winners and losers from the Chiefs’ thrilling 27-23 comeback win.
Winner: Patrick Mahomes’ left hand
Did you know there are currently no left-handed quarterbacks in the NFL? Don’t tell that to Mahomes:
Patrick Mahomes is UNREAL.
It’s a left-handed throw too!
— SB Nation (@SBNation) October 2, 2018
That was on third down, with Von Miller coming toward him fast and the Chiefs trailing by 3 with three minutes left. If you already thought Mahomes isn’t fair, just wait …
Winner: Patrick Mahomes’ right hand
To remind you what he can do with his arm, here he is on the next third down on the Chiefs’ game-winning drive:
Two plays later, Kareem Hunt ran in the go-ahead touchdown.
Loser: The Broncos’ final drive
Even though the Chiefs had stolen all the momentum, the Broncos had just under two minutes to get in the end zone and win the game. On fourth-and-11, Case Keenum found Emmanuel Sanders for an 11-yard gain to keep the drive alive. Sanders even had the wherewithal to get out of bounds.
On the next play, Keenum hit Jeff Heuerman in the middle of the field for a 36-yard gain. But they still needed that touchdown. On third down with just 22 seconds left, here’s Keenum’s throw to a wiiiide open Demaryius Thomas:
So with one play left and the game on the line, here’s Courtland Sutton trying to lateral the ball before he even catches it:
That sealed the game for the Broncos’ 10-point blown lead.
Loser: All the teams that didn’t draft Phillip Lindsay
Here he is — all 5’8 of him — bulldozing his way to give the Broncos a 20-13 lead:
Lindsay, a Denver-area native who went to Colorado, earned a spot with the Broncos and helped revive what had been a stagnant running game.
Winner: Eric Murray’s disrespectful pick
That was just the second pick by the Chiefs defense all season.
Winner: Patrick Mahomes’ … legs?
If Mahomes is known for one thing, it’s his rocket launcher of an arm that had him leading the NFL in touchdown passes even before Monday night’s game. The Denver defense didn’t make it easy on him, putting him under more pressure than he’s used to and forcing him to make quick throws.
In the second quarter, he used the Broncos’ pressure to his advantage, running (!) in the first touchdown of the game:
It was also the first rushing touchdown of his career, though it’s something he did fairly often at Texas Tech.
On third down early in the third quarter, when the Broncos fans were at their rowdiest, Mahomes extended the play by rolling out, giving tight end Demetrius Harris a little time to get open for a 24-yard gain.
A few plays later, on another third-and-long, Mahomes scrambled and finally connected with Travis Kelce on a throw that really had no business in working but well, Mahomes:
Mahomes’ legs helped him buy extra time and avoid sacks all game. Just look at these numbers out side the pocket:
Loser-turned-winner: The Mahomes-Kelce connection
No one has been targeted on more of Mahomes’ fastballs this season than tight end Travis Kelce, who entered Week 4 with a team-leading 16 catches. His 229 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions were second on the Chiefs, behind Tyreek Hill.
Early Monday night, Kelce’s connection with his quarterback is off. He started the game 0-for-5 on targets from Mahomes. One pass hit Kelce in the hands, but was thrown behind him as Mahomes faced heavy pressure from the Denver pass rush.
They finally hooked up on the sixth try, and it got the Chiefs into scoring position. They tied it 13-13 midway through the third quarter.
Shortly after, Kelce was the Chiefs’ leading receiver again. He might have gotten off to a slow start, but with the Chiefs down double digits — a rarity in the fourth quarter for them — Kelce was Mahomes’ safety blanket. Kelce’s 2-yard reception got the Chiefs within three points with just over six minutes to play and helped complete the comeback.
Winner: Travis Kelce stealing a bird
Following the Chiefs’ go-ahead touchdown late in the game, Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce were greeted by Broncos fans’ middle fingers.
Kelce knew the perfect comeback:
Winner-turned-loser: Case Keenum looking like his 2017 self … and then back to his 2016 self
Not many expected journeyman Case Keenum to follow up his career-best 2017 with another season quite that good. So far in his stint with the Broncos, he’s been less like Vikings QB Keenum and closer to Rams QB Keenum.
He hasn’t been bad necessarily … just mediocre, something the Broncos are all too familiar with when it comes to quarterbacks.
In the first half, Keenum was playing his best game of the season:
Before his 42-yard pass to Courtland Sutton, Case Keenum hadn’t completed a pass thrown 30+ yards downfield since Week 10 of last season.
He was 0-of-12 on such throws in that span, including the playoffs. pic.twitter.com/IDFTBy9pHG
— ESPN Stats Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 2, 2018
And check out this surprise jump ball on fourth down:
Keenum has a hell of an improvising streak to him.
This is 4th down pic.twitter.com/2afHpruF9X
— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) October 2, 2018
Keenum was a #gamemanager for the first half, which was enough to give the Broncos a 13-10 lead at halftime.
But he reverted back to the guy who can’t put the team on his back in the second half, including overthrowing Demaryius Thomas for what could’ve been the game-winning touchdown.
Winner: The MNF cameraperson
Give this person an Emmy right now:
Loser: Anthony Hitchens gets taken for a ride in the end zone
First, let’s give a little praise to Royce Freeman, who showed patience and then a whole lot of power on this touchdown run.
But poor Chiefs linebacker Anthony Hitches, who got dragged along as Freeman scored:
The Chiefs came into this game with the worst defense in the league. That’s not helping their case.
Winner: Kareem Hunt is alive!
With Mahomes and the Chiefs’ No. 1 ranked passing offense, Kareem Hunt came into this game as a forgotten piece of the offense. Hunt, who led the league in rushing last season, made his presence felt on the Chiefs’ first drive of the game.
On fourth-and-inches from their own 43-yard line, Hunt barreled through to get 2 yards and the first down. On the next play, Mahomes found him for a 27-yard gain, punctuated by Hunt trucking some dude:
Kareem gained 33 yards on the drive. Alas, for the first time all season, KC didn’t score a touchdown on its opening drive. But at least Hunt got involved again.
At the start of the second quarter, Hunt dropped a pass … and then on the next play, immediately did this:
To cap it all off, Hunt scored the game-winning touchdown with under two minutes left.
The Kansas City Chiefs haven’t been great on defense going into their Monday Night Football matchup against the rival Denver Broncos, but Patrick Mahomes has had little issue keeping his team on top through three games this season. The Chiefs will travel to Mile High to face the Broncos beginning at 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN (live streaming via WatchESPN).
Mahomes has thrown for 896 yards, 13 touchdowns and no interceptions in three games this season. He’s completed 66.7 percent of his passes, and has been assisted by a decent but not-great running game. Mahomes shredded the Chargers for four touchdowns, the Steelers for six touchdowns, and dumped three of them on the 49ers in their last outing.
The Broncos are 2-1 on the season, with one-score wins over the Seahawks and Raiders in their first two games, and a 27-14 loss at the hands of the Ravens in their last game. Monday’s game will be Denver’s third home game of the season, with the other two being wins.
Below is all you need to know to watch the action on Monday.
- Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
- Location: Broncos Stadium at Mile High, Denver, Col.
- TV: ESPN
- Streaming: WatchESPN
- Odds: The Chiefs opened as 4.5-point favorites over the Broncos
- The biggest injury news for Denver is the loss of tight end Jake Butt, who was placed on injured reserve. The team signed Brian Parker, another tight end, off their practice squad in a corresponding move.
- Another issue for Denver is the thigh injury to Tramaine Brock, as he is listed as doubtful for Monday’s game. Adam Jones and Dymonte Thomas are also injures and listed as questionable.
- For the Chiefs, the biggest concern is the absence of Eric Berry, who has a bone spur that is digging into his Achilles, and he’s been inactive thus far this season. Berry is officially doubtful for Monday.
- Aside from Berry, the Chiefs are relatively healthy, however. Berry is the only player listed as doubtful on the final injury report, and Kansas City has nobody listed as questionable.
- If the Broncos are going to have any chance against the Chiefs, they absolutely have to uncork the offense early and often.
- Peep the five questions with the enemy post on Mile High Report, and then the one from Arrowhead Pride.
- Denver will be wearing the all-blue uniforms against the Chiefs.
- The Chiefs are rolling. The Broncos are not, but Monday’s game is a huge opportunity for them to make a statement.
- Case Keenum hasn’t been playing great for the Broncos (he’s not getting much help, to be fair), but head coach Vance Joseph isn’t worried about his interceptions thus far.
- Former Chiefs star Tony Gonzalez thinks Patrick Mahomes will break the single-season touchdown record.
Of the seven SB Nation experts picking Week 4 games, all of them are going with the Chiefs to win on Sunday. The coin flip and the OddsShark computer are going with the Broncos, however.