Chiefs rout Broncos 33-10 to keep AFC West title hopes alive
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By DAVE SKRETTA
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Kansas City Chiefs knew before kickoff against Denver that they were going to the playoffs.
They proceeded to play as if they have much bigger goals.
Travis Kelce hauled in 11 catches for 160 yards and a touchdown, Tyreek Hill added a 70-yard TD run to his rookie highlight reel and the Chiefs routed the Broncos 33-10 to keep their AFC West title hopes alive on a soggy, sloppy Christmas night at Arrowhead Stadium.
"Unforgettable," said 346-pound defensive tackle Dontari Poe, summing up not only the night for Kansas City but also the way he punctuated it in style, lining up at quarterback and throwing a jump pass to tight end Demetrius Harris for a touchdown late in the game.
The Chiefs (11-4) were already assured of a wild card when Pittsburgh beat Baltimore earlier in the day. But a win next weekend in San Diego and an Oakland loss in Denver would give them the division title for the first time since 2010, not to mention a first-round bye and home playoff game.
"I give the guys a lot of credit for playing hard when they already clinched a playoff spot. That isn't easy to do," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "They came out and I really thought played aggressive."
Meanwhile, the Broncos (8-7) trudged through another inept offensive performance, this one costing the reigning Super Bowl champions an opportunity to keep their own postseason hopes alive.
The lackluster performance came one week after a dismal showing in a 16-3 loss to New England led to a locker room shouting match between the Denver offense and defense. The Broncos downplayed any kind of disharmony this week , but their performance Sunday night only seemed to underscore the rift.
"Next week is all geared toward next year and our football team moving forward," Denver coach Gary Kubiak said. "We need to finish on a positive note, but we need to move on to the next year."
Kansas City controlled the prime-time matchup from the opening bell.
Alex Smith capped a 77-yard touchdown march with a 10-yard keeper in the first quarter, and Hill out-ran the banged-up Broncos a few minutes later to give the Chiefs a 14-0 lead.
It was the fourth TD scored by Hill against the Broncos this season .
Forsett's touchdown gave the Broncos fleeting hope, but it was dashed moments later. Kelce took a screen pass and followed perfectly executed blocking for an 80-yard touchdown and a 21-7 lead.
"It felt good to see this offense come out, three possessions in a row and just move the ball," Hill said. "We know what we can do. We still haven't put it all together, but it's coming."
The Chiefs' defense took care of the rest, making it a festive night for their fans.
The Broncos were 7-3 when the teams met in November, but they blew an eight-point lead and wound up losing the game in overtime. That letdown started their downward spiral.
"I've thought about that for a few days," Kubiak said. "We could've came out of that game with a lot of confidence. We come out of the game, we don't get it done and it's been a struggle since then - especially offensively, it's been a struggle. Defensively, I think we've battled our tail off.
"We didn't play good tonight, but that's the NFL," he added. "Games here or there that you pull off and can play well and can propel you to great things and sometimes they don't go as well."
The biggest hit of the night came when a security guard tackled a fan that had run onto the field. Of course, it came after the fan already had run untouched about 90 yards, so in that respect, security wasn't a whole lot better than the Broncos' first-half defense.
Broncos cornerback Kayvon Webster was taken from the field on a cart after getting hit high by Chiefs linebacker Terrance Smith while covering a touchback in the second quarter. Webster's head was snapped back by the block, and he was being evaluated for a concussion. He did not return.
Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe left in the first half with a neck injury and did not return. Denver was already without leading tackler T.J. Ward and tight ends Virgil Green and A.J. Derby because of concussions and linebacker Brandon Marshall because of a hamstring.
Chiefs running back Spencer Ware bruised his ribs late in the game and will have an MRI exam on Monday. He carried 13 times for 62 yards and caught two passes for 20 yards.
Denver wraps up its disappointing season Sunday against Oakland.
Kansas City visits the Chargers on Sunday.
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Updated December 26, 2016