No streak lasts forever.
And for the Kansas City Chiefs, a span of 16 straight wins against Denver was abruptly snapped Sunday, as the Broncos took advantage of five Chiefs turnovers in a 24-9 loss at Empower Field at Mile High.
It was only the fourth time in Patrick Mahomes’ career with the Chiefs — in 102 games regular season and postseason — that he lost a game by double digits.
KC’s struggles were best encapsulated with 11:15 left in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs were about to receive a punt — trailing by five — to have a chance to go the length of the field to take the lead.
Recent acquisition Mecole Hardman muffed the Riley Dixon boot at the 5-yard line, however, and Denver recovered, scoring two plays later on a Courtland Sutton receiving touchdown.
This was a disaster for the Chiefs, with each unit sharing its part of the blame.
Mahomes was battling illness and wasn’t his sharp self; the Chiefs listed him on the injury report just before the game, amid reports that he had the flu this weekend.
The defense, meanwhile, did little to stop the Broncos’ running game, with Javonte Williams leading a backfield group that wore down the Chiefs from the start.
The Chiefs also had their worst special-teams day of the season. In addition to Hardman’s muffed punt, KC also surrendered a 31-yard punt return on the first possession that immediately swung some belief the Broncos’ way.
Self-inflicted mistakes were explicitly the story of the Chiefs’ first half offensively.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling lost a fumble on KC’s third drive, and that was only the start of a blunder-filled second quarter.
On the next possession, Mahomes tossed an interception while appearing to underthrow Travis Kelce. And two drives later, while in the red zone, Mahomes was strip-sacked from behind as KC gave away possession for the third time.
The Chiefs stayed close at half — trailing 14-9 — thanks to a big play late by the defense. George Karlaftis roared around the edge to swipe the ball away from Denver quarterback Russell Wilson, with Willie Gay recovering at the Denver 48 with nine seconds left.
Mahomes completed an 11-yard pass to Jerick McKinnon, and Harrison Butker remained perfect on the year with a 56-yard field goal to trim the Broncos’ halftime edge to five.
Denver (3-5) continued with a ground game that made it tough for KC to mount a second-half comeback, though. The Broncos’ first two possessions of the second half went 13 and 11 plays, meaning that after Hardman’s fumbled punt, the Chiefs finally got their second drive of the second half following a kickoff with 10:33 left in the fourth quarter.
Even that chance ended with similar frustrations. On fourth-and-3 from the Denver 27, Mahomes lofted a pass into the arms of Skyy Moore in the end zone, who dropped it for the turnover on downs.
Mahomes put both hands on his helmet in disbelief afterward.
The Chiefs (6-2) will play the Miami Dolphins at 8:30 a.m. Central Time next Sunday, Nov. 6 in Frankfurt, Germany.