Nick Bolton returned a fourth-quarter fumble to the house to give the Kansas City Chiefs a 28-21 lead over the Denver Broncos with 7:57 remaining in the game. The nail in the coffin, however, was Vic Fangio’s decision to kick a field goal on fourth-and-9 on the Chiefs’ 13-yard line on the ensuing drive.
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Kansas City turned out the lights by running out the clock following the field goal to secure the 28-24 win.
Patrick Mahomes was surprisingly human against Denver, as he finished PFF’s first review of the broadcast film with two notable turnover-worthy plays that ultimately resulted in dropped interceptions. He also recorded zero big-time throws. He completed just 5-of-15 passes 10-plus yards downfield, averaged just 6.0 air yards per target and earned 76% of his passing yards after the catch.
With Clyde Edwards-Helaire sidelined due to an injury, the Chiefs opted for a committee of Darrel Williams (31 snaps), Derrick Gore (21) and Jerick McKinnon (20) in the backfield. None of the three backs totaled more than 30 yards on the ground, but McKinnon did stand out with his three receptions for 26 yards, which included a 14-yard score.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Tyreek Hill was in and out of the lineup due to a right foot injury and finished the game with just 11 routes run. Mecole Hardman led the team in receiving yards with eight receptions for 103 yards from 11 targets, which included five first-down receptions. A whopping 99 of Hardman’s 103 yards came after the catch.
Kansas City’s offensive line was dismal in the ground game, but the pass protection was top tier. None of the Chiefs’ five starters earned PFF pass-blocking grades below 65.0 on first review of the broadcast film.
Kansas City’s pass rush was non-existent on Saturday. No Chiefs defensive lineman earned more than one pressure on first review or a PFF pass-rushing grade above 70.0.
Bolton’s touchdown was a massive turn of events for Kansas City, and it was sparked by significant disruption from veteran edge defender Melvin Ingram.
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It wasn’t a banner day for the Chiefs’ defensive backs. Charvarius Ward allowed separation early on an overthrow to Jerry Jeudy and went on to finish the game with a team-high 68 yards allowed in coverage and a 42.5 PFF grade on first review of the broadcast film.
Drew Lock was far from awful, but his inconsistent ball placement was just too much to overcome. He completed just 12-of-24 passes for 162 scoreless yards and took one sack. He did, however, score two impressive touchdowns on the ground early in the game.
Melvin Gordon III should finish PFF’s reviews with a better grade than many might expect given the game-defining fumble in the fourth quarter. He broke more than five tackles and gained more than 90 of his 110 rushing yards after contact.
Rookie Javonte Williams wasn’t nearly as consistent, totaling just 46 yards from his 12 carries with three broken tackles.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Tim Patrick and Jerry Jeudy both posted highlight plays throughout the game, but their efforts weren’t enough to overcome Lock's roller-coaster performance. Patrick led the team in receiving yards with 95 from six receptions. Five of his receptions went for first downs, and he was the only Broncos wideout charted with a dropped pass on first review.
Denver's run-blocking grades across the board are heinous, but the group held up well in pass protection. Center Lloyd Cushenberry III should finish reviews as the only Broncos offensive lineman who recorded a PFF pass-blocking grade below 70.0.
No Broncos defensive lineman earned a PFF pass-rushing grade above 70.0 on first review of the broadcast film. Mike Purcell, Dre’Mont Jones and Bradley Chubb all held up well against the run, but there were little highlights to speak to across the board.
Denver’s linebacker room has been decimated by injuries all season, forcing Baron Browning and Jonas Griffith into the spotlight in Week 18. Neither player earned PFF grades above 65.0 on first review, but their run defense was far from terrible. The duo combined for three defensive stops and three missed tackles on the night.
Veteran cornerback Kyle Fuller dropped an interception and allowed a team-high 99 yards in coverage on first review. Michael Ojemudia also dropped an interception but should still finish reviews as the team’s highest-graded defensive back, as he allowed just 45 total yards in coverage.