The Kansas City Chiefs ended their two-game losing streak and bolstered their commanding grip on the AFC West with a 29-19 victory over the Denver Broncos on Monday at Arrowhead Stadium.
Kansas City is now 6-2 and comfortably ahead of the second-place Broncos, who fell to 3-4 with their third straight loss. It wasn't an offensive masterpiece, but tight end Travis Kelce provided the firepower with seven catches for 133 yards and a touchdown while Harrison Butker drilled all five of his field goals.
That was enough support for the Chiefs defense, which forced five Denver turnovers and never gave up the lead after it scored the first touchdown on Marcus Peters' 45-yard fumble recovery.
Not only did the Kansas City defense score, it combined with Butker to dominate the fourth quarter.
Denver trimmed the deficit to seven heading into the final 15 minutes after trailing by double digits for most of the contest, but Butker connected on three field goals in the fourth while the defense stopped the Broncos on downs, intercepted Trevor Siemian and defended a two-point conversion with less than two minutes remaining to maintain a 10-point lead.
Kenneth Acker's fourth-quarter pick was one of three Siemian threw Monday, a number that looked particularly ugly next to his 198 passing yards on 19-of-36 throwing. C.J. Anderson provided some rushing support with 78 yards, but the Broncos couldn't dig out of the initial hole with a lackluster passing attack.
Even with the strong defensive performance and the victory, a pessimistic view of the Chiefs would suggest they had no business allowing the Broncos to even hang around after handing the ball away like Halloween candy.
Rookie running back Kareem Hunt consistently ran into the wall that is Denver's rush defense. He finished with 46 yards on 22 carries. Quarterback Alex Smith found Kelce for a 29-yard score to open a two-score lead in the first quarter, but he completed less than 50 percent of his passes at 14-of-31 for 202 yards.
It wasn't just lackluster numbers but missed opportunities to bury the Broncos that kept the score closer than the game seemed.
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill floated a pass on a trick play inside the Denver 10-yard line, which Darian Stewart easily picked off. Smith also lost a fumble inside the Broncos' 40-yard line on a Shaquil Barrett strip-sack, and the Chiefs failed to parlay Isaiah McKenzie's muffed punt into anything more than another field goal from Butker.
Demetrius Harris also dropped a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, which would have put the Chiefs ahead by three scores in the final minutes.
Fortunately for the home team, the defense and Butker came to the rescue.
Peters didn't just open the scoring by returning the fumble, he forced it by stripping former Chief Jamaal Charles. The two-time Pro Bowler and Ron Parker each intercepted Siemian in the first half, while De'Anthony Thomas recovered McKenzie's fumbled punt.
Denver still found itself behind just 20-13 after Devontae Booker's six-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, but the missed two-pointer following A.J. Derby's touchdown reception in the final two minutes ended its comeback hopes.
Things won't get any easier for the scuffling Broncos in Week 9, when they hit the road to face the 7-1 Philadelphia Eagles. Kansas City will also square off with an NFC East team in Week 9 when it battles the 4-3 Dallas Cowboys.