Chiefs rally to beat Broncos 22-16 to clinch playoff berth

Full Screen
1 / 8

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws against the Denver Broncos in the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel )

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Patrick Mahomes threw for 318 yards and a touchdown, Harrison Butker was perfect on five field goals, and the Kansas City Chiefs overcame some red-zone woes and big mistakes that cost them two more scores to hold off the Denver Broncos 22-16 on Sunday night.

Travis Kelce had eight receptions for 136 yards and the go-ahead TD grab late in the third quarter, and Tyrann Mathieu twice picked off Broncos quarterback Drew Lock — the second with 24 seconds left to seal the win — as the Chiefs clinched a playoff berth by improving to 11-1 for the second time in franchise history.

It took some defense to do it.

The Broncos (4-8) forced the Chiefs to punt after a holding call wiped out Tyreek Hill's 48-yard touchdown reception — he also missed out on a TD because of a coaching gaffe earlier — and Denver managed to move to midfield before stalling. But rather than going for it on fourth-and-3 with 6 minutes to go, coach Vic Fangio elected to punt the ball away.

The Chiefs melted most of the clock before Butker kicked a 48-yard field goal with 1:06 remaining, and the Kansas City defense forced Lock into a wild fourth-down throw that Mathieu intercepted to put the game away.

Lock returned after missing last week's game against New Orleans, along with the rest of Denver's quarterbacks, because of COVID-19 positive tests and contact tracing. The local boy finished with 151 yards passing and two touchdown throws to Tim Patrick, while Melvin Gordon ran for 131 yards on just 15 carries.

The Broncos built a 10-9 halftime lead thanks in part to a strange, tide-turning sequence of series.

It began with the Chiefs facing third-and-10 at the Denver 40 early in the second quarter. Mahomes found a wide-open Hill deep downfield, only for him to appear to drop the certain touchdown. But replays clearly showed the ball trapped between Hill and a defender, never touching the ground, for what should have been the go-ahead score.