Jamaal Charles’ return to Kansas City started with a bang. On his first touch of the game, the veteran, who played the last nine seasons for the Chiefs, found a crease up the middle on a draw play and ran for an 18-yard gain.
Two plays later, his night was spoiled. Marcus Peters knocked the ball out of Charles’ arms before picking it up and running 45 yards for a touchdown. It was the first of many mistakes from the Broncos that would ultimately cost them in a 29-19 loss to division rival Kansas City.
Turnovers, penalties, drops and errant passes left the Broncos facing a 14-point deficit halfway through the first quarter, that could easily have grown, if not for an interception thrown in the end zone by speedster Tyreek Hill on a botched halfback pass. Denver still hasn’t won an AFC West matchup on the road since before Super Bowl 50.
The Trevor Siemian-led offense continued to struggle in Kansas City after scoring just 42 points total in their four previous games. Siemian himself made several mistakes, including an ugly first-quarter interception to Marcus Peters and another to Ron Parker near the end of the half. He threw a third in garbage time.
But Siemian wasn’t the only culprit in Denver’s loss. A dropped touchdown by Bennie Fowler on a third-quarter third down could have cut Kansas City’s lead to 10, seven minutes into the second half. Instead, a Brandon McManus field goal left Denver trailing 20-6.
Siemian found A.J. Derby in the end zone with two minutes left in the game, but Denver couldn’t convert the two-point conversion, leaving them down 29-19 and essentially ending the game. Siemian finished with 198 passing yards on 36 attempts to go with three interceptions and a touchdown.
Denver’s special teams were bad again as Isaiah McKenzie’s muffed punt early in the second half set the tone for an uphill battle that never ended. It was McKenzie's fourth fumble of the season. Kansas City’s De’Anthony Thomas recovered the fumble at Denver’s 16. The Broncos defense forced a three-and-out, but Harrison Butker converted the second of what would be five field goals on the night.
The Broncos’ defense put together another solid outing in Shane Ray’s return to action, limiting Kareem Hunt to 46 yards rushing and 22 receiving. For the first time in his career, the rookie didn’t post at least 100 yards from scrimmage. His seven-game streak is the longest ever to start a career.
On his first snap since injuring his wrist during training camp, Ray stuffed Kareem Hunt for no gain. Ray worked with Von Miller and Shaq Barrett to pressure Alex Smith all night, rarely allowing the veteran quarterback to sit comfortably in the pocket. Barrett strip-sacked Smith late in the first half as the Chiefs approached the end zone. Domata Peko recovered the fumble.
Denver generally stuffed Kansas City's run game other than a few option plays. On one play, Von Miller froze Smith and Hunt in the backfield before Smith pitched the ball to the running back, who ran downfield through a massive running lane. The Chiefs also threw plenty of swing passes to stunt the pressure.
Travis Kelce was vital to the Chiefs' passing game. He caught seven passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. The rest of Kansas City's pass-catchers totaled 69 yards.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Marcus Peters finished the game with a pass breakup, an interception, a forced fumble, a recovered fumble and a touchdown. The interception came on a deep ball down the left sideline to Jeff Heuerman, which Trevor Siemian left hanging up in the middle of the field for what could be the easiest interception of Peters’ career.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Jamaal Charles’ first-quarter fumble put the Broncos behind the eight ball early, again. After possibly picking up a first down on a strong run, his third of the game, Charles had the ball pulled out by Marcus Peters who returned it for a touchdown.
QUOTE OF THE GAME
"Not sure. But losing three games in a row and having five turnovers tonight, anything's possible." - Vance Joseph when asked if he plans on replacing Trevor Siemian as starting quarterback
BY THE NUMBERS
5- Turnovers by Denver
133- Receiving yards by Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce
1- Fumble recoverd by Denver’s defense, the first this season
Things are dire in Denver. The Broncos are in the midst of their worst seven-game start since Tim Tebow led their 2011 squad to a playoff berth with an 8-8 record.
Unfortunately for Denver, eight wins won’t get them into the playoffs this year. The Chiefs should be heavy favorites to win the AFC West, now that they’ve won six of their first eight. Denver will need to find a way to win as many as six of their last nine if they want a shot at a wildcard spot.
Philadelphia Eagles, 11 a.m. MST, Sunday, November 5; CBS
At 7-1, the Eagles are soaring with the best record in the NFL and their lone loss coming in Kansas City. Second-year quarterback Carson Wentz is leading an elite passing attack that should provide an interesting challenge for the No Fly Zone.