Mahomes Rallies Chiefs Past Broncos, 27-23
DENVER (AP) — Patrick Mahomes is athletic, agile — and ambidextrous, apparently.
Thanks in part to a nifty left-handed throw as he was about to get sacked by Von Miller at midfield on the game-winning drive, the right-handed Mahomes rallied the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs past the Denver Broncos 27-23 on Monday night.
By overcoming a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit, the Chiefs (4-0) took a two-game lead over the Broncos (2-2), their AFC West rivals whom they've now beaten six straight times.
The only other remaining unbeaten team is the Los Angeles Rams.
Down 23-13, Mahomes directed a 12-play, 75-yard drive that ate up more than six minutes and culminated with a 2-yard TD toss to tight end Travis Kelce.
After a three-and-out by Denver, Mahomes added a 60-yard touchdown drive, handing off to Kareem Hunt for the 4-yard score with 1:39 remaining.
On that last drive, Mahomes was getting dragged down by Miller on third-and-5 at midfield when he shifted the ball to his left hand and threw it to Tyreek Hill a yard past the first-down marker at the Broncos 49.
"He's actually more athletic than people" realize, Denver linebacker Brandon Marshall said. "People talk about his arm, but he can move out of the pocket and make the necessary throws."
Even with his left hand.
"I didn't know he threw it with his left hand," marveled Miller. "He's a great quarterback."
"Patrick worked real hard on that left-handed throw," Chiefs coach Andy Reid quipped. "Some amazing plays there. We've seen it in practice but not under those conditions."
Mahomes proved slippery all night.
"We played well and we got to him but he would scramble out to his right as he likes to do," Marshall said. "It's almost like we'd have him in our fingertips and he'd scramble away and throw for a first down.
"The kid can play. He's going to be really good. He's really good right now, but we should have won the game."
It was the first time since 2004 that the Broncos blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead at home.
RUN, ROOKIES, RUN
In between Kansas City's scoring drives, the Broncos, who had run roughshod over the Chiefs all night — a 7.2-yard average per run — suddenly abandoned their ground game in favor of three-wide receiver sets that resulted in a quick three-and-out that sent Denver's exhausted defenders right back out.
"We ran the ball to control the game," Broncos coach Vance Joseph said, "but you throw the ball to score."
After the three-and-out, struggling Broncos punter Marquette King shanked a 35-yarder out of bounds, giving the Chiefs the ball at their 40 with 4:35 left.
"He's got to perform better," Joseph said. "We're at home and it's his job to flip the field. It ain't happening."
If anything, the Broncos' 1-2 punch of rookie running backs needed more work.
Phillip Lindsay ran 16 times for 69 yards and a TD and Royce Freeman ran eight times for 67 yards and a TD.
Freeman took a toss from Case Keenum and slipped seven tackles on his way to a 14-yard touchdown in which he dragged linebacker Anthony Hitchens across the goal line in the first half.
Mahomes overcame a couple of flags that put Kansas City in a second-and-30 hole from their 31 and completed consecutive passes covering 23 and 35 yard to reach the Broncos' 11 at the 2-minute warning.
That last play never should have counted because the play clock expired well before the snap. But referee Craig Wrolstad's crew missed it. Joseph said he raised the issue with an official who insisted the Chiefs had gotten the play off in time.
"I disagree. I disagree," Joseph said.
Cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said there should be some recourse when the officials blow a call.
"If a ref messes up on a call, yeah, you should be able to fix it. Go back and fix. Like, 'Dude, look how long the clock was on zero?' I mean, c'mon," Harris said. "That wasn't the reason we lost the game. We still had plenty of chances but that was a huge, huge no-call."
The officials had another blunder when Mahomes was about 1½ yards past the line of scrimmage when he scrambled and hit Kelce for a 29-yard catch to the 3 early in the second half. Joseph appeared to be reaching for his red challenge flag but never threw it.
Denver's defense bailed out its coach by forcing the Chiefs to settle for a field goal.
Thomas and Broncos teammate Brandon Marshall both stood with their teammates during the national anthem. Since the preseason, both players had been retreating to the tunnel nearest their bench during the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Chiefs: Wide receiver Sammy Watkins pulled a hamstring in the second quarter and didn't return. Linebacker Dee Ford (groin) left in the fourth quarter.
Broncos: Right tackle Jared Veldheer left in the first quarter with a knee injury and was replaced by Billy Turner.
Chiefs: Host Jacksonville on Sunday to begin a stretch of three home games in four weeks.
Broncos: Visit the Jets on Sunday, the first of three road games in four weeks.