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Mahomes leads Chiefs' comeback win over Broncos

Patrick Mahomes led the Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to keep their undefeated season alive in a 27-23 victory over the Denver Broncos on *Monday Night Football in Week 4. *

  1. Patrick Mahomes had his moment on Monday night. After struggling through an unproductive first half during which he averaged just 4.3 yards per pass attempt, Mahomes (304 yards, TD) rebounded with confident abandon. With the Chiefs down by 10 points in the fourth quarter, the second-year gunslinger led two touchdown drives, showing off the remarkable out-of-pocket accuracy and ball speed that earned him the starting gig in Kansas City and early-season MVP chatter. After the Broncos went three-and-out with 4:35 to go, Mahomes marched K.C. down the field in eight plays, converting two third downs and bouncing back from second-and-30 at one point, to take a four-point lead over Denver with just under two minutes to go.

Case Keenum took Denver into Chiefs territory quickly, thanks to a 36-yard heave to tight end Jeff Heuerman. But the Broncos quarterback followed that up with four straight incompletions from the Chiefs' 28-yard line, including one misfire toward the end zone in the direction of a wide-open Demaryius Thomas. Game over. Point, young gun.

1b. Mahomes' night can't be summed up in numbers or metrics, but this stat from the ESPN broadcast comes pretty damn close. The Chiefs quarterback threw for 192 yards outside of the pocket on Monday night, the most by any quarterback in the past decade. The Brett Favre comparisons are easy to make, especially when Mahomes is completing passes ambidextrously and launching rifles off balance at obtuse angles like the former Packers legend. But it's hard not to make them. The only difference? Mahomes doesn't turn the ball over. Through four games, he has a 14:0 TD-to-INT ratio. Mahomes is pacing the MVP race ahead of Jared Goff and Khalil Mack -- and the gap's not small.

  1. Onlookers at Broncos Stadium at Mile High were up in the arms over one particular official oversight during Mahomes' game-sealing drive. On a third-and-7 for Denver's 46 with 2:03 to go -- and with Broncos fans screaming in a fever pitch -- Mahomes appeared to snap the ball with no time remaining on the play clock. Craig Wrolstad's crew didn't blow the whistle and the ensuing play was a 35-yard bomb to tight end Demetrius Harris to set up the winning score.

When asked if he confronted the officials about the play clock, Broncos coach Vance Joseph told reporters, "I did, and he said he looked up, it was zero and the ball was gone. I disagree. I disagree."

  1. Kansas City's league-worst defense was no match for a pair of rookie running backs from the Pac-12. Denver's dynamic backfield duo, Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, combined for 136 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. Complementary in nature, Lindsay's slash-and-dash style and Freeman's ground-and-pound demeanor hammered K.C.'s veteran front through the first three quarters, racking up first downs and extending drives to keep Mahomes off the field. The Broncos inexplicably went away from the pair on a three-and-out preceding Mahomes' final march, a decision Broncos offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave will rue when he watches the film.
  1. For most of Monday evening, the Chiefs' offense was hamstrung by a hamstring. Sammy Watkins exited the game with a bum hammy in the first quarter, leaving Mahomes with one fewer weapon to work with. Heading into Monday, Watkins had played the most snaps of any Chiefs wide receiver, averaging 51.3 snaps per game; he played just 12 against Denver. In his stead, Harris, Chris Conley and Demarcus Robinson saw more snaps, but couldn't replace his production or spread out Denver's defense until late in the second half. Chiefs coach Andy Reid described the injury as simple hamstring tightness, but given his outsized use in K.C.'s offense, Watkins' health will be something to monitor this week.

The main beneficiary of Watkins' absence was running back Kareem Hunt, who, until Mahomes went all Brett Favre on Denver in the fourth quarter, was solely responsible for keeping the Chiefs in this one. The reigning rushing champion is oft overlooked in the star-studded juggernaut that is Kansas City's offense, but not on Monday. Hunt averaged 6.4 yards on the ground and racked up 175 total yards on 22 touches, one of which was the game-winning score in the red zone.

  1. This loss will sting more than most for the Broncos, whose defense more or less shut down the hottest quarterback in the sport for three quarters by coupling tight coverage with a ferocious pass rush. Chris Harris and Adam Jones handled Travis Kelce for the bulk of the game. Derek Wolfe, Bradley Chubb and Von Miller led a Broncos pass rush that hit Mahomes nine times, but sacked him only once. Kansas City's 10-point comeback was the first surrendered by the Broncos in Denver since 2004.
  1. Unable to thwart Mahomes' magic fourth quarter, the Broncos missed out on an opportunity to tie their division rivals atop the AFC West at 3-1. Denver is now two games behind K.C. and must hope that the Chiefs drop a game or two against the Jaguars, Patriots and Bengals (combined record of 8-4) over the next three weeks before the two meet again in Week 8.
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