KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Patrick Mahomes threw for 306 yards and a touchdown, Harrison Butker kicked four field goals, and the Kansas City Chiefs held off the Denver Broncos 19-8 on Thursday night for their 16th straight win over their longtime AFC West rivals.
Travis Kelce had nine catches for 124 yards for Kansas City with Taylor Swift again cheering him on from an Arrowhead Stadium suite. But the Chiefs (5-1) leaned more heavily on their defense to shut down erratic Russell Wilson and the Broncos (1-5).
Wilson was held to 95 yards passing with a touchdown and a pair of interceptions, and woebegone Denver finished with just 197 yards of total offense.
Still, the Chiefs‘ inability to turn red-zone trips into touchdowns nearly cost them.
Butker’s first three field goals helped them to a 16-0 lead, but Wilson’s touchdown pass to Courtland Sutton – ruled incomplete but overturned upon review – with about six minutes remaining kept the Broncos alive. And when Javonte Williams bulled into the end zone for the 2-point conversion, what had been a one-sided shutout was a one-possession game.
The Broncos’ league-worst defense couldn’t make a stop, though. Mahomes converted third-and-2 with a 28-yard pass to Rashee Rice, and that put Butker in position for a 52-yard field goal with 1:55 left that put the game away.
The Broncos have not beaten the Chiefs since Sept. 17, 2015, the year Peyton Manning led Denver to the Super Bowl. That was six head and interim coaches ago, and nothing changed with Sean Payton leading them Thursday night. In a league built for parity, their losing streak is the fourth-longest for any team against another in NFL history.
As bad as the Broncos‘ defense has been this season, it was Wilson and their offense that kept dragging them down. He had 37 yards passing in the first half, and the only drive Wilson led past midfield ended on fourth down.
The Chiefs weren’t doing a whole lot better.
Their first three forays into the red zone netted three points, thanks to an interception by Justin Simmons and a failed tush-push out of a field-goal lineup on fourth down. Mahomes, who has struggled by his standards all season, only found his rhythm once in the first half, when he ended a 62-yard drive with a short touchdown pass to Kadarius Toney.
Butker made it 13-0 at the break when he drilled a 60-yard field goal as time expired.
The Chiefs‘ red-zone woes continued in the second half. They began by swiftly marching downfield and setting up first-and-goal at the Denver 8, but that quickly turned into fourth-and-goal at the 7-yard line and Butker was forced to kick another field goal.
That was all Kansas City could muster until his clinching kick in the final minutes.
Isiah Pacheco carried 16 times for 62 yards for the Chiefs.
SWIFT IN THE HOUSE
Swift watched Kelce and the Chiefs for the third time Thursday night. The two began a relationship a few weeks ago, when he invited Swift to a Chiefs game after failing to meet her during her Eras Tour. Swift flew in from Los Angeles, where she walked the red carpet on Wednesday night for the premiere of her concert film.
Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones had a sack in his eighth straight regular-season game, which trails only his own 11-game streak in 2018 for the longest in franchise history. With at least one in his first five this season, Jones broke the club record to start the season held by Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas.
Broncos: TE Greg Dulcich, who had just come off injured reserve, left in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury. It’s the same injury that landed Dulcich on IR after hurting it in Week 1 against the Raiders.
Chiefs: S Justin Reid, who had an interception earlier in the game, briefly left in the second half. WR Justin Watson left in the fourth quarter with an elbow injury sustained while trying to make a diving catch.
Broncos: Host Green Bay on Oct. 22.