DENVER (AP) — The Denver Broncos reeled off big run after big run against the soft underbelly of the Kansas City Chiefs defense.
Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman ran roughshod over the Chiefs. Each scored a touchdown and Freeman eluded seven defenders and dragged a linebacker into the end zone on his 14-yard score.
“We ran the ball well Brian Elliott Jersey ,” Broncos quarterback Case Keenum said. “We started off so many series just pounding the rock at second-and-1, first-and-10. Even with some loaded boxes that K.C. brought, our offensive line played really well.
“We’ve got to keep running the ball well. If we keep running the ball like we do, we’re going to win a lot of games.”
Nobody could stop Lindsay and Freeman Monday night — except Broncos offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, who abandoned his great ground game at key moments in the Broncos’ 27-23 loss .
That included a three-and-out series in which the Broncos lined up in three-receiver sets three times in between the Chiefs’ final two drives, both of which ended in touchdowns as Patrick Mahomes rallied the Chiefs (4-0) back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit.
Lindsay ran for 69 yards on a dozen carries for a 5.8-yard average and Freeman ran for 67 yards on just eight hand-offs, a whopping 8.4-yard average.
Lindsay’s long run was 19 yards and both Freeman and speedy wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders reeled off 18-yard runs.
“They ran downhill, but you score points by throwing the football,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph said. “We ran the ball to control the game, but you throw the ball to score.”
Clinging to a 23-20 lead, the Broncos didn’t burn enough clock to keep Mahomes on the sideline and give Denver’s exhausted defense enough of a breather.
After a run for no gain, a catch for no gain and a sack, Marquette King shanked a 35-yard punt that gave the Chiefs the ball at midfield for their game-winning drive.
The Chiefs ran well themselves, with Kareem Hunt leading the way with 121 yards on 19 carries.
“It was a big game,” Hunt said. “We’ve been up big on everyone we’ve played so far. It’s good to see where we’re at mentally and be able to fight back and come back in the fourth quarter down 10 points. That shows a team that’s not going to give up.”
Other takeaways from the Chiefs’ sixth straight victory over the Broncos:
Patrick Mahomes threw for 304 yards and a touchdown, a 2-yarder to tight end Travis Kelce that sparked the fourth-quarter comeback. That gave him 14 TDs and zero interceptions through the first month of the season.
But the play everyone was talking was his 6-yard strike to Tyreek Hill with his left hand while getting pulled down by Von Miller .
“I didn’t think about it at all,” Mahomes said. “I was just kind of scrambling left, I felt Von on my back and I knew I couldn’t throw it with my right hand. I knew we needed the first down, so I kind of shot-putted it to Tyreek. … You just have to get the ball in their hand somehow.”
“It caught me off-guard,” Hill said. “I’ve never seen a quarterback who is right-handed throw the ball left-handed.”
Said Hunt: “I thought, is this dude a magician or something? He is doing things that you don’t see often.”
Or ever, suggested Chiefs safety Eric Murray.
“That one is new,” Murray said. “I’m glad we all got to see it.”
Miller didn’t see it.
He was wrapped around Mahomes’ ankles trying to bring down the second-year star.
“I didn’t know he threw it with his left hand,” Miller conceded.
Neither did linebacker Shane Ray.
“I didn’t see the hand switch,” Ray said. “I heard about it.”
Along with everyone else.
Through one month, Case Keenum isn’t the same quarterback who led the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC championship in January after injuries to Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater.
So far, Keenum has just three touchdown passes to go with six interceptions with the Broncos after throwing for 22 TDs and just seven interceptions.
“We believe in Case and he’s shown he can win games late for us Jaguars Authentic Jerseys ,” Joseph said.
Keenum nearly pulled off his third fourth-quarter comeback for the Broncos but he overthrew a wide-open Demaryius Thomas streaking down the Chiefs sideline with 16 seconds left from the K.C. 28.
“It was close,” Keenum said. “I want to watch it on film. But it felt really close. There’s a few, especially those types of plays that I lose a little sleep over, thinking about it, laying at night in bed. It’s a tough one, it stings.”
The Broncos brought in a practice squad punter to push King last week but he continued his disappointing first season in Denver by averaging just 41 yards on three punts with a paltry net of 28.7.
His 35-yard duck gave the Chiefs the ball at their 40 with 4 1/2 minutes left.
“He’s got to perform better,” Joseph said. “We’re at home and it’s his job to flip the field. It ain’t happening.”
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) No, Vance Joseph never felt as if he was drinking out of a firehose when the Denver Broncos stumbled through a 5-11 season in his first year as head coach last year.
That’s how general manager John Elway has repeatedly described what it must have been like for a first-year head coach in the NFL.
”That’s not my personality, so I didn’t feel that way,” Joseph told The Associated Press. ”My focus was purely on trying to flip it and get us back on a winning path. I think being a young head coach and being a young coach is a different deal. I’m not a young coach. I’ve been a part of teams that have gone through adversity so I kind of knew what the issues were.”
A sieve of an offensive line.
Locker room rifts.
A lack of chemistry, the byproduct of another protracted quarterback competition.
Still, ”I think overwhelmed, that’s not the word,” Joseph said.
Denver’s dive, which included eight losses by double digits, was a shock to a city and a franchise that had a ticker-tape parade just two years earlier, and Elway acknowledged that he pondered firing Joseph at season’s end.
”That’s the direction I want to go, but it’s my responsibility to think about other options to see what would be best for the football team,” Elway said in January. ”We thought about different options, but ultimately, my goal was to stick with Vance and give him that shot.”
Elway, who had riled up his players by calling them soft during an eight-game skid, said he shared in the blame for Joseph’s deficient debut and needed to surround him with better personnel.
Joseph replaced nearly half of his coaching staff while Elway embarked on a massive roster upgrade .
He signed quarterback Case Keenum in free agency and all 10 members of his ballyhooed 2018 draft class spent four years in college and most were captains. That’s a far cry from the previous two classes that were loaded with raw athleticism, long-term projects and plenty of question marks.
Joseph seems much more comfortable in his second season.
”I don’t see it as a do-over. It’s hard in this league. You don’t get do-overs, unfortunately. But it’s a new year and obviously last year wasn’t good enough,” Joseph said.
The hands-off philosophy Joseph brought to Denver last year has vanished.
”I think it’s a fine line between micromanaging and coaching coaches. And I didn’t want to ever be micromanaged as an assistant coach because in my mind I was doing the best I could for that head coach and the best I could for that football team. And I took great pride in coaching my guys and being the best group on the field every day in the meeting rooms or on the field Youth Joe Flacco Jersey ,” Joseph said.
”So, in my mind every coach would feel that way and every coach would want to coach that way. So, I was cautious in interrupting coaches’ drills, interrupting coaches’ ways of doing things because I had an experienced staff.”
That led to the notion that Joseph was still acting like an assistant coach last year while offensive coordinator Mike McCoy continued operating as though he were still a head coach before getting fired at midseason.
Joseph vehemently denies that was the case.
”I thought Mike did a great job every week of accepting his role and we talked every week about the game plan, so that’s not true,” Joseph said.
”I worked for a lot of coaches who didn’t micromanage me, Gary Kubiak, Marvin Lewis, great guys who have won a lot of games. So, that’s not true. Our staff last year we discussed every game plan that we put forward and again it was the best thing for our players at the time.
”So, our thought process early on was to be an explosive offense. We were 3-1. It wasn’t perfect. But it was working. Now, turning the ball over, not protecting the quarterback, those things affected how we played on offense. But not Mike trying to be in total control, that’s not true.”
Still, Joseph said he has to coach his coaches better, and by that, he means challenging them.
”I don’t coach the receivers, I don’t coach the running backs or offensive line. I’m a defensive backs guy, I’m a defensive guy. So, I think asking the right questions and triggering more thought process on how we can do things better. Or simply seeing it differently than the coach and saying, `Why don’t we do it that way?”’ Joseph said.
”Now, I can be wrong, but I think simply asking more questions is a simple way of helping the coaches get better and helping our football team get better and not letting anything slide.”
Joseph realizes he won’t get another chance if things don’t change.
”Winning football games is a must this year,” he said. ”We have to do that. That’s why they hired me.”
And why Elway stuck with him.