Broncos got butts 'thoroughly kicked' by Chiefs

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Generally, no shame comes in losing to the Kanas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes. On Thursday night, there was for the Denver Broncos.

At home; on a short week; with the 2018 NFL MVP exiting the game with 10 minutes left in the second quarter; against a Chiefs team that came in already missing its No. 2 receiver, starting left tackle, starting left guard, a second-team All-Pro defensive tackle and a starting corner, the Broncos got walloped.

Thirty to six. 30 to 6.

"To come out and play like that, it sucks," defensive end Shelby Harris said, via Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic. "We got our ass thoroughly kicked today. We really did, and it was on every phase."

Denver was outscored 20-0 after Mahomes left the game. Twenty to nil. Matt Moore beat you by three scores.

"You got to think with the backup quarterback coming in, you have a chance," Harris said. "It's all on us. It wasn't like a fluke thing. That was on us. We damn lost the game. They whooped our ass."

The whooping was mostly thanks to an inept offense led by Joe Flacco.

A statuesque quarterback with the pocket mobility of the Castle Rock butte, Flacco was sacked a career-high eight times. It's not as if Denver was facing the '85 Bears here either. The Chiefs came in with zero -- Z-E-R-O -- sacks the past two weeks. On Thursday night, Flacco & Co. allowed K.C. to record nine total, their most in a game since 1998. 1998!

"We're just not playing good football," Flacco said. "They came after us and we kind of let them come after us. You've got to give a lot of credit to them. They played really physical. They came hard. They played downhill and we were in a lot of bad situations."

Even for the most ardent Flacco supporter, it's clear John Elway's latest solution to the comical QB carousel he's run since Peyton Manning decayed on the field isn't working.

Flacco has thrown one-or-fewer passing TD in eight of his last nine games extending back to the 2018 season -- and zero in four of those tilts.

"All levels of our passing game was the problem,'' Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said. "Protection sometimes. Receivers not getting open sometimes. Then some good coverages that maybe we weren't ready for. It certainly a problem we have to get rectified moving forward."

Yes, the offensive line is terrible, with left tackle Garett Bolles doing more holding than blocking. The idea of putting the immobile Flacco back there and having it work was faulty from the start. Thursday's game wasn't the first time the QB set a career-high in sacks this season; that came in Week 3 against Green Bay (six sacks).

When the Broncos run game is stymied, as it was Thursday, the whole offense goes in the tank. Denver compiled a meager 205 total yards -- 134 passing, 71 rushing -- in the loss. It's been a struggle for far longer than one game.

It's a common cliché that QBs make their money on third downs. If true, Flacco is broke. For the season, the Broncos offense is converting 29.7 percent of their third downs through seven games -- the lowest third-down percent for Denver in a season since at least 1991. Toss out a 46 percent conversion rate in Week 1 against Oakland (6 of 13) and that number falls even further. In the past six tilts, Flacco and Co. have converted 16 of 74 third downs -- 21.6 percent.

The inability to do anything after Mahomes exited underscored the futility in Denver. Had the MVP remained on the field and destroyed Denver, most would have shrugged, suggesting, 'Sometimes, that happens when you play Mahomes.' The injury lay bare all the problems for the Broncos and Elway. And the truth is gruesome.

They're not good enough to stick close to Matt Moore.

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