Chiefs edge Broncos to sustain hopes of NFL top seed

·3-min read
Patrick Mahomes threw for two touchdown passes to spark the Kansas City Chiefs over Denver on Sunday to keep alive their hopes of an NFL top playoff seeding (AFP/Dustin Bradford)

Patrick Mahomes threw two touchdown passes and the Kansas City Chiefs kept alive their chances of an NFL playoff top seed by defeating the Denver Broncos 28-24 on Saturday.

Mahomes completed 27 of 44 passes for 269 yards without an interception and ran nine times for 54 yards as the Chiefs rallied to beat the Broncos for a 13th consecutive time since 2015.

"It was tough," Mahomes said. "We didn't play the way we wanted, especially in the first half. It was great to find a way to win."

The 2020 Super Bowl champion Chiefs (12-5) need a Sunday loss by the Tennessee Titans (11-5) at Houston (4-12) to claim the AFC top seeding, which brings a first-round playoff bye and home-field advantage.

"We handled our business today and we'll see what happens tomorrow," said Mahomes, who expects more in the playoffs.

"We're going to have to be better if we want to make a run through the AFC. We've got what it takes."

Kansas City's victory ended New England and Cincinnati's chances to take the top seed.

Denver was clinging to a 21-20 lead in the fourth quarter and had driven to the Chiefs' nine-yard line when disaster struck.

Kansas City linebacker Melvin Ingram knocked the ball from the grasp of Broncos running back Melvin Gordon and Chiefs rookie Nick Bolton scooped up the fumble and ran 86 yards for a touchdown -- the longest fumble recovery scoring run of the NFL season.

Mahomes ran in a two-point conversion and the Chiefs seized a 28-21 edge.

Brandon McManus kicked a 31-yard field goal with 4:37 remaining to lift the Broncos to 28-24 but the Chiefs got the ball and ran out the clock.

The Broncos (7-10) had already been eliminated from playoff contention.

The contest marked the first time in NFL history that teams played a 17th game in a regular season, the league having expanded the schedule by one game per club starting this year.

- Prescott shines -

The Chiefs' Jerick McKinnon caught a screen pass from Mahomes and eluded three Denver defenders to complete a 14-yard touchdown play that gave Kansas City a 17-14 lead 4:17 into the third quarter.

Denver's Gordon answered with a 47-yard touchdown run to put the hosts back in front, but the Chiefs trimmed the Broncos' lead to 21-20 on Harrison Butker's 51-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.

Mahomes flipped a three-yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce to cap a 91-yard drive as the Chiefs took a 7-0 lead but Denver's Drew Lock ran five yards for a touchdown to pull the Broncos level 7-7 after one quarter.

Lock scrambled 23 yards up the middle for another touchdown to give the Broncos the lead but the Chiefs pulled within 14-10 at halftime on a 34-yard Butker field goal.

In the night game, Dak Prescott geared up for the postseason by throwing a career-high five touchdown passes to break Tony Romo's franchise single-season record as the Dallas Cowboys stomped the Philadelphia Eagles 51-26.

Prescott completed 21 of 27 passes for 295 yards as the first-place Cowboys improved to 12-5 on the season.

He completed an eight-yard touchdown pass to Corey Clement early in the fourth quarter for his 37th touchdown pass of the season to break Romo's record.

He also connected with Cedrick Wilson and Dalton Schultz for two scores apiece.

The Cowboys could finish as high as the number-two playoff seed behind Green Bay or as low as number four, depending on the outcome of Sunday's games.

Wilson caught five passes for 119 yards for Dallas, which will host a wild-card game next weekend.

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