KANSAS CITY, MO — 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.