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Cover 4: Broncos' fourth-quarter comeback bid falls short in 30-23 loss to Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Broncos took an early 7-0 lead, but mistakes plagued both sides of the ball as Denver at one point allowed four consecutive Kansas City touchdown drives during Sunday's 30-23 loss to the Chiefs.

After holding the Chiefs to a season-low 27 points in Week 4, the Broncos didn't have an answer for Patrick Mahomes, Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Broncos' offense scored twice in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to seven, but the Chiefs recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock to clinch the win.

These were the players and plays that mattered in a game that dropped the Broncos to 3-5.

Defining statistic

4.

Beginning with their first drive of the second quarter, the Chiefs scored touchdowns on four consecutive possessions to take control of Sunday's game against the Broncos.

There were plenty of other numbers that affected Sunday's game, including penalty yardage at inopportune times. But the game ultimately boiled down to a pretty simple truth: The Broncos just couldn't stop Mahomes and the offense for most of the Week 8 contest.

In turn, both the offense and defense faced increasing pressure on each ensuing drive. The defense needed a stop more and more on each drive, and the Broncos' offense faced a larger deficit each time it took the field for the better part of the third quarter.

Though the defense didn't allow a point in the fourth quarter — and only three in the first quarter — those four drives were enough to make a difference.

Game-changing moment

The Broncos already trailed by nine when they got the ball back with 10:16 to play in the third quarter, and their comeback attempt only became more difficult from there. A holding call wiped out a 23-yard run on first down, and the offense wasn't able to recover on the drive. That's where the game changed. Punter Colby Wadman shanked a punt just 22 yards and the Chiefs took advantage.

On fourth-and-1 from the Denver 23-yard line, Mahomes found Hunt on a shovel pass, and Hunt did the rest. He weaved his way toward the goal line, leapt over safety Will Parks and then barreled into the end zone. The score but the Chiefs up 16 points, which made the deficit too big for Denver to overcome.

Top performers

In Royce Freeman's absence, both Phillip Lindsay and Devontae Booker put together impressive games. Lindsay rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, while Booker carried the ball nine times for 78 yards. Each of the players also added three receptions. Both backs could have had even more yards, but several runs were called back after penalties on the Broncos.

On the defensive side, Chris Harris Jr. did his best to slow the Kansas City offense. He totaled four tackles on the afternoon. Shaquil Barrett and Justin Simmons also earn nods. Barrett tallied a pair of special teams tackles and also had two quarterback hits and a tackle for loss. Simmons came up with a fourth-quarter interception of Mahomes that gave the Broncos a chance to cut the lead.

Memorable highlight

With the Broncos trailing 16-7 with 54 seconds to play in the first half, Case Keenum and the offense took the field in desperate need of a score. And they didn't settle for just a field goal. Keenum first found Sutton for 42 yards down the left sideline, and the Broncos followed that play up with a pass down the right sideline to a wide-open Tim Patrick. The Utah product hauled in the catch for his first career reception, and the Broncos pulled within two points. At that moment in the game, it was a huge play for the Broncos' chances — and even though it didn't change the result, it remained a perfect example of an efficient two-minute offense.

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