The Broncos Squandered a Win Against the Chiefs on Sunday Night

The Broncos nearly sealed the game with a late touchdown, but the Chiefs endured and won in overtime. What went wrong?

Division games always sometimes make games feel more important.

Last night, Sunday Night Football treated us to an exciting one between the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos.

It was a pretty boring one for most of the first half until the Chiefs secured a safety at the 6:16 mark in the second quarter for a 2-0 lead.

Per numberFire Live, the Chiefs became the favorites to win for the first time since the opening kick, with a 50.28% chance to win after the safety.

Then, Tyreek Hill ran back the kickoff (punt off?) after the safety, and Cairo Santos booted through the extra point to give Kansas City a 9-0 lead and the game some life. The seven points gave the Chiefs a 63.75% chance to win.

Brandon McManus gave the Broncos some points before halftime, and the game entered the break 9-3.

Then it got nuts.

The Second Half

Midway through the third quarter, Trevor Siemian was able to extend a play from the Chiefs' six-yard line and hit Jordan Taylor for a tip-toe touchdown. Their odds jumped up to 58.12%.

But let's fast forward through a Tyreek Hill 3-yard touchdown run and a 35-yard score for Emmanuel Sanders. With 3:12 left in regulation, the Broncos had the ball with a 17-16 lead on their own 24.

Siemian floated a pass to Bennie Fowler, who took it 76 yards to the house. Their win odds spiked from 78.34% to 93.79% with an 8-point lead and 3:00 left for the Chiefs.

Well, perhaps the Broncos would have been better off not scoring there.

The Chiefs chipped away and had the ball on the Denver 14 with 25 seconds left but just an 8.96% chance to earn the come-from-behind win.

Alex Smith connected with Hill again for an 11-yard completion on 4th and 10, but their odds still were just 13.67% with just 15 seconds left.

But Hill (of course) came through with one of the oddest touchdowns we'll see all season, as he would have been marked shy of the goal line had he completed his catch immediately. A bobble let him cross the plane and pulled the Chiefs to within a two-point conversion of tying the game.

Still, even with the score, the Chiefs were just 23.07% likely to win. It wasn't until the two-point conversion between Smith and Demetrius Harris that the Chiefs were officially back in it. Their odds sat at 43.89% as the game was a lock for overtime.

The theme, though, is that Denver was in control when it mattered most, and that continued for most of the overtime period.


An opening-drive field goal by McManus gave Denver a 71.23% chance to put an end to this game once and for all, but they couldn't stop the Chiefs, who notched a field goal of their own. Santos' 37-yarder, however, left Kansas City with just a 20.87% chance to earn the win.

Denver's 26.86% win probability wasn't much higher. A tie seemed imminent.

But as was wont for this game, it didn't happen that way.

With 2:47 left, Siemian hit A.J. Derby for 10 yards to get Denver to the Kansas City 44 at the two-minute warning. Their win odds were at 53.23%. Three straight plays dropped their chances.

Kapri Bibbs ran for no gain (44.31%), and Siemian threw consecutive incompletions, dropping their chances to 23.14% on 4th and 10.

Then things got interesting yet again.

The Broncos had a chance to attempt a 62-yard field goal or punt the ball and, essentially, play for the tie. Gary Kubiak elected to try the long field goal, which McManus missed.

The impact was massive at that point in the game with a tie as likely as it was.

Win OddsBroncosChiefs
Before Field Goal Attempt23.14%23.71%
After Missed Field Goal23.42%38.40%

Within two plays, Kansas City was on Denver's 32 with a chance to win north of 50%. They inched closer, and Santos iced the game with a 34-yard field goal.


The Broncos had multiple chances to come away with a win (or avoid a loss), but they just couldn't seal it.

Had Fowler taken a knee at the one rather than scoring in the fourth quarter, there was no guarantee that Denver would have won, and the score gave them a chance of winning higher than 93%. It's hard to fault them there, but we can always wonder.

And playing for the win -- even on a 62-yard field goal attempt -- is admirable.

But the game probably never should have gotten to that point for the Broncos, who had control on the game late in the fourth quarter, and they dropped to 7-4, third in the AFC West, as a result.

At the very least, we get to soak in this win probability graph, but these few decisions in this game could have a big impact on the AFC playoff race when all is said and done.