8:20 p.m. ET
Key decision #1: (KC ball, trailing 3-0 / fourth-and-1 KC 34 / 9:18 1Q)
• Denver took the opening kickoff on a nice drive that resulted in a field goal and a 3-0 lead in front of a loud home crowd. Kansas City, on its first possession, faced a fourth-and-1 on its own 34. Andy Reid chose to go for the first down even though failure there would have put Denver in good chance to build on its lead at home. The Chiefs converted the first down and ultimately the drive led to a game-tying field goal.
Key Decision #2: (DEN ball, tied 10-10 / fourth-and-1 KC 24 / 0:58 Q2)
• On Denver’s last drive of the first half, they were confronted with a fourth-and-1 from the Kansas City 24-yard line with 58 seconds left. Denver head coach Vance Joseph chose to go for the first down instead of simply kicking the field goal there and going into halftime with a 13-10 lead.
• Denver’s drive was ultimately stopped and they had to settle for the field goal anyway. Joseph’s decision was a risky one but to some degree understandable in that he felt he probably needed many more points in order to win this game. Additionally, if he would have simply kicked the field goal with 58 seconds left, Kansas City would have had the ball with approximately 50 seconds left and three timeouts. With their offense, that would have been enough time to score.
Key decision #3: (KC ball, trailing 20-13 / fourth-and-1 KC 46 / 10:18 Q4)
• There was another fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter at the Kansas City 46 that Reid went for again with 10 minutes left to go in the game. Again, failure here would have given Denver another short field.
• Patrick Mahomes threw a short pass to Kareem Hunt, who ran for a 22-yard gain. The drive ended in a game-tying touchdown.
Key decision #4: (KC ball, trailing 23-20 / second-and-30 KC 31 / 2:53 Q4)
• On the game-winning touchdown drive by Kansas City in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs faced a second-and-30. Mahomes completed a 23-yard pass to Demarcus Robinson, and then converted on third-and-7.
• Denver chose to continue playing man-to-man coverage instead of switching to zone defense, which might have given them a better chance at stopping a long down-and-distance situation.
• Despite losing, this was the best overall performance we’ve seen from Denver head coach Vance Joseph. Sure, some things could have been better, but we liked the offensive and defensive game plan. This was the first time KC was really tested early in a game this season. Perhaps Denver could have stayed more patient with its successful inside running game, but that is a nitpick.
• Den OTs struggled all night vs KC pass rush — this could be a season-long issue, which means Denver may have to stay a bit more patient with its running game, or implement more quick-passing.
• We can see that Kansas City’s offense expects to score quickly. When the other team offers good resistance, the Chiefs get a bit impatient and are hesitant to simply take the small underneath plays. We feel that in order for the Chiefs to take the next step, they will have to get better at implementing their four-minute offense on demand. Everything is clicking right now as everyone is healthy, but adversity will come, and their patience with their offense will be important.