Chiefs seek fast fix to turnovers with Broncos visiting

Field Level Media

December 02, 2021 at 8:18 am.

Patrick Mahomes declines to attribute his 11 interceptions to a common thread. He also will not blame his targets.

The truth, however, is several picks have come on catchable balls that bounded off receivers’ hands. The issue will be one the Chiefs (7-4) again look to correct Sunday, while also attempting to maintain their AFC West lead against the Denver Broncos (6-5) at Kansas City, Mo.

“There’s some (interceptions) where I’m pressing the issue a little bit more, some are just bad luck,” Mahomes said. “So, I’ll try to do whatever I can to try to limit those as much as possible, because we know turnovers are such a big deal in this league.”

Especially for the Chiefs, who rank 31st in the NFL with 22 giveaways.

In Denver, they face an opponent geared toward pressuring quarterbacks and altering pass attempts. Kansas City coach Andy Reid even called out the Broncos’ Shelby Harris as a defender adept at disrupting rhythm by deflecting passes.

“(Mahomes) owns everything, that’s how he’s wired,” Reid said, defending his generational talent. “However, there are a lot of things that go into it, and we’re playing a team that has been a leader at tipped balls. They had four tipped balls against us last year, so as an offense we’ve got to make sure we’re aware of that and take care of business on that.”

In other words, don’t provide additional help when receivers fail to latch on to good throws.

Still, Mahomes accepts blame for that too, noticing that his deliveries have not always been in ideal spots.

“Just because it hits them,” said Mahomes, “it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s in the spot for them to make the catch, so I got to make sure I’m putting it in the right spot every time.”

Even then, it could be difficult circumventing Patrick Surtain II, the reigning AFC defensive player of the week.

Surtain snagged an interception in the end zone and returned another one 70 yards for a touchdown as the Broncos moved into a three-way tie for second in the balanced AFC West by beating the Los Angeles Chargers last week.

Broncos coach Vic Fangio doesn’t see Mahomes being easier to defend.

Although Kansas City opponents have played deep safeties to take away long connections, Fangio sees the Chiefs becoming more patient while getting solid play from running backs Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams.

“They’re actually calling more runs than you’re seeing statistically, because they’re calling runs that turn into passes with the RPOs,” Fangio said. “They do have more balance. They’ve got good backs, they’ve retooled their offensive line from last year and they’re really good.”

As for receivers led by Tyreek Hill, Surtain acknowledges, “they’ve got speed; world-class speed. We’ll put our track shoes on.”

The Chiefs have dominated the series since 2015, winning 11 straight by a collective margin of 323-180.

“It’s extremely personal,” said the Broncos’ Justin Simmons. “No matter what I say, no matter how good it sounds, bad it sounds, you gotta go do it. No one cares what it looks like. All anyone cares about is that win-loss column.”

After using backups as tackles in the win over the Chargers, regulars Garett Bolles (COVID-19 list) and Bobby Massie (ankle) could return for Denver.

Rashad Fenton appears to be the leading injury concern for Kansas City while dealing with a strained knee. Kyle Long has been activated, though Reid will wait to determine if Long can help along the offensive line.