Chiefs sustain hopes of NFL playoff top seed
Published: Jan 09, 2022 06:10 PM
Patrick Mahomes threw two touchdown passes and the Kansas City Chiefs kept alive their chances of an NFL playoff top seed by defeating the Denver Broncos 28-24 on Saturday.

Mahomes completed 27 of 44 passes for 269 yards (246 meters) without an interception and ran nine times for 54 yards as the Chiefs rallied to beat the Broncos for a 13th consecutive time since 2015.

"It was tough," Mahomes said. "We didn't play the way we wanted, especially in the first half. It was great to find a way to win."

The 2020 Super Bowl champion Chiefs (12-5) need a Sunday loss by the Tennessee Titans (11-5) at Houston (4-12) to claim the AFC top seeding, which brings a first-round playoff bye and home-field advantage.

Kansas City's victory ended New England and Cincinnati's chances to take the top seed.

Denver was clinging to a 21-20 lead in the fourth quarter and had driven to the Chiefs' nine-yard line when disaster struck.

Kansas City linebacker Melvin ­Ingram knocked the ball from the grasp of Broncos running back Melvin Gordon and Chiefs rookie Nick Bolton scooped up the fumble and ran 86 yards for a touchdown - the longest fumble recovery scoring run of the NFL season.

Mahomes ran in a two-point ­conversion and the Chiefs seized a 28-21 edge.

Brandon McManus kicked a 31-yard field goal with 4:37 remaining to lift the Broncos to 28-24 but the Chiefs got the ball and ran out the clock.

The Broncos (7-10) had already been eliminated from playoff contention.

The contest marked the first time in NFL history that teams played a 17th game in a regular season, the league having expanded the schedule by one game per club starting this year.

The Chiefs' Jerick McKinnon caught a screen pass from Mahomes and eluded three Denver defenders to complete a 14-yard touchdown play that gave Kansas City a 17-14 lead 4:17 into the third quarter.

Denver's Gordon answered with a 47-yard touchdown run to put the hosts back in front, but the Chiefs trimmed the Broncos' lead to 21-20 on Harrison Butker's 51-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.

Mahomes flipped a three-yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce to cap a 91-yard drive as the Chiefs took a 7-0 lead but Denver's Drew Lock ran five yards for a touchdown to pull the Broncos level 7-7 after one quarter.

Lock scrambled 23 yards up the middle for another touchdown to give the Broncos the lead but the Chiefs pulled within 14-10 at halftime on a 34-yard Butker field goal.