Chiefs use defense to rally past Broncos, clinch playoff spot

Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Tyrann Mathieu had two interceptions in a win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday in Kansas City, Mo. File Photo by Kyle Rivas/UPI
1 of 3 | Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Tyrann Mathieu had two interceptions in a win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday in Kansas City, Mo. File Photo by Kyle Rivas/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Patrick Mahomes and the typically high-octane Kansas City Chiefs struggled to score in Week 13, but used a strong defensive effort to rally for a win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football.

The 22-16 victory on Sunday in Kansas City, Mo., also clinched a playoff berth for the defending Super Bowl champions.


Mahomes completed 25 of 40 passes for 318 yards and a score for the Chiefs. Kicker Harrison Butker made 5 of 5 field goal attempts in the win. Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu intercepted Broncos quarterback Drew Lock twice.

"I thought we showed some character [Sunday night]," Mathieu told reporters. "We showed up to play football for four quarters. We didn't take this opponent lightly."

Mathieu got his first interception on the game's opening possession, but the Chiefs offense sputtered and was forced to punt. Brandon McManus then made a 53-yard field goal to give the Broncos an early edge.

Butker then made his first field goal of the game -- a 35-yard attempt -- to tie the score at the end of the first quarter. The Broncos later put together a seven-play, 94-yard drive. Lock connected with Tim Patrick on a five-yard touchdown toss to end that possession and give the Broncos a 10-3 lead midway through the second quarter.

Butker made two more field goals on the Chiefs' next two drives to make the score 10-9 at halftime. The Chiefs kicker then made a 31-yard attempt to start the third quarter, which gave his team a two-point advantage.

The Broncos responded with a long, 11-play drive, capped off with another Lock-to-Patrick touchdown toss. That 10-yard connection gave the Broncos a 16-12 lead with 3:54 remaining in the third frame.


Mahomes and the Chiefs answered with a seven-play, 75-yard drive on the next possession. The star quarterback threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce to end the drive and give the Chiefs a 19-16 edge at the end of the quarter.

Butker added a 48-yard field goal with 1:09 remaining to give the Chiefs their final six-point advantage. Mathieu intercepted Lock four plays later to secure the victory.

"There are no feel-good losses in this league, ever," Lock said. "We did play them closer than we have before, but what does that get you? Nothing.

"It gets you an upset locker room, it gets you to a sad flight home, but we'll learn from it and keep getting better and keep focusing on these little things that sometimes bite us in the butt."

Lock completed 15 of 28 passes for 151 yards, two scores and two interceptions. Broncos running back Melvin Gordon had 15 carries for 131 yards in the loss. Kelce had eight catches for 136 yards and a score for Kansas City.


"We're just battle tested," Mahomes said. "We've played in a lot of tight football games. We have to find ways to win. We didn't play like we wanted to in the red zone, but in this league you have to find a way to win."

The Chiefs (11-1) will battle the Miami Dolphins at 1 p.m. EST Sunday in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Broncos (4-8) will face the Carolina Panthers at 1 p.m. EST Sunday in Charlotte, N.C.

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