Things were going well for the Chiefs. Then it happened.
Patrick Mahomes suffered a right knee injury at the end of a fourth-down quarterback sneak. Just after the Chiefs settled for a field goal on a drive that stalled at the 1, Mahomes was declared out for the game.
It’s the first time Mahomes in his three-year NFL career has missed playing time because of an injury.
The injury occurred on a fourth-and-1 from the 5 on a quarterback keeper. Mahomes, who has been nursing an ankle injury, burrowed into the pile and had enough yardage for the first down.
But as he lay on the ground, the Chiefs players responded in anguish. Wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Demarcus Robinson slammed their helmets to the turf.
The Chiefs didn’t get in the end zone on the possession. Reserve Matt Moore entered the game and two handoffs gained two yards. Moore was overwhelmed on third down and the Chiefs settled for a field goal.
Mahomes was helped off the field but walked to the locker room without aid.
The Chiefs led 20-6 at the break.
Great half for defense
Could the Chiefs have set a defensive tone on a drive where the Broncos scored a touchdown?
The Chiefs twice had apparent stops on third down plays on Denver’s first possession. But a penalty flag on each kept alive a possession that resulted in a field goal. Defensive end Frank Clark got the first for a face mask on a third-and-9 that was stopped short.
Cornerback Baushad Breeland drew a 5-yard holding flag on a third and 8.
Until then, the Chiefs had played superb run defense, and on the next possession came up with the first sack in two games. This one went to Alex Okafor. He got his second sack later in the first quarter.
As the half unfolded the defense grew stronger.
It was a blitzing, chance-taking group that constantly got after Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco. The Chiefs recorded six sacks in the half. One resulted in a scoop and score by Reggie Ragland after Anthony Hitchens got the strip. That made the score 20-6.
Another was produced by safety Armani Watts, who didn’t bite on a fake punt attempt and brought down Colby Wadman. It was that possession that ended in the Mahomes’ injury.
Hardman comes up big
Mecole Hardman had a big first half.
He caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from Mahomes to end the Chiefs’ first possession and ball that was apparently tipped by safety Will Parks.
Also, Hardman had the Chiefs’ longest punt return this season, a 37-yarder that set up Harrison Butker’s first field goal.