The Kansas City Chiefs won the battle, but they also may have just lost the war, as they coasted to a 30-6 victory over the Denver Broncos in a game that saw them lose star quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a gruesome knee injury.
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The Chiefs suddenly found their pass-rush on Thursday night. Alex Okafor had a strip-sack of Joe Flacco to end a Broncos first-quarter drive beating Elijah Wilkinson outside. Okafor beat Wilkinson for another sack on the next drive. Anthony Hitchens had a strip-sack of Flacco in the third quarter after he came free unblocked on a zone blitz. Hitchens picked up a second sack one drive later on a stunt.
Frank Clark picked up a sack on a stunt to end a Broncos second-quarter drive and force a field goal attempt that was missed. Clark recorded his second sack when he beat Garrett Bolles outside in the third quarter. Emmanuel Ogbah slipped inside Wilkinson as Flacco stepped up in the pocket to pick up a third-quarter sack. Ogbah also batted down three passes. Reggie Ragland added a fourth-quarter sack of Flacco after sneaking by center Connor McGovern.
Before getting hurt with what looked to be a dislocated kneecap, Patrick Mahomes looked solid on his ankle early, moving around well and throwing accurate passes on mostly shorter routes. After his injury, which occurred on a quarterback sneak, Matt Moore came in and played well as a game manager and even managed to hit Tyreek Hill deep for a touchdown, who beat cornerback Chris Harris.
Kansas City's offensive line struggled in both run blocking and pass protection throughout the night against Von Miller and the Broncos' defense. Right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and left guard Martinas Rankin particularly stood out as weak links in this unit tonight.
The statuesque Joe Flacco was constantly being harassed throughout the night and was sacked eight times. He also had three passes batted down. When he was able to pass, Flacco had spotty accuracy and his best pass of the night was a seam to Noah Fant that was dropped.
Fant had a drop on a seam route that would have put the Broncos in field goal position to end the first half. Fant dropped another seam pass that would have led to a big gain in the third quarter, as well. Fant had moments of nice run-blocking, but that was overshadowed by the drops.
Denver's defense played well early on but struggled to maintain their success after their offense's repeated inability to convert first downs. They did a good job of preventing big plays until Tyreek Hill finally broke one down the right sideline for a touchdown with cornerback Chris Harris in coverage.