DENVER (AP) – Cairo Santos’ 34-yard field goal hit the left upright and bounced through as the overtime period expired Sunday night to give the Kansas Chiefs a 30-27 victory over the Denver Broncos on Sunday night.
That avoided the third tie in the NFL this season, something that hasn’t happened since 1973 before the league introduced overtime.
The winner followed a risky move by Broncos coach Gary Kubiak, who sent his kicker out for a 62-yard try with 1:01 left only to see Brandon McManus – who has hit from 70 yards in training camp – come up short.
“It’s on me,” Kubiak said, explaining he made the move because he had confidence in his kicker even with a new long snapper who joined the team on Friday. “We didn’t have any doubt that he could get the ball there. The thought process was on the other end: if we do punt, do we get the ball back?”
McManus practically begged to get a crack at the 62-yarder.
“That’s still well within my range. I just kind of hit the ground,” he said. “From that distance, everything kind of needs to be perfect just because of how far you are away. It didn’t happen for me.”
Instead of having to go 80 yards or more, however, the Chiefs got the ball at the Denver 48 with one timeout and just over a minute remaining. The Chiefs reached the Denver 16 before Santos ended the snoozer-turned-thriller in perfect fashion. Even his teammates hesitated as they ran out to celebrate, unsure if the ball had clanked through or not with the stadium rocking as if it hadn’t.
The Chiefs (8-3) kept up with the Oakland Raiders (9-2) in the AFC West race and the Broncos (7-4) could find themselves fighting for a wild card now.
Both teams kicked field goals on their opening possession of overtime, McManus from 44 yards and Santos from 37.
That followed Kansas City’s amazing tying drive in the final 3 minutes of regulation.
Alex Smith threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to rookie Tyreek Hill and a 2-point conversion pass to tight end Demetrius Harris with 12 seconds left to tie it at 24.
Hill’s third touchdown of the night capped a 13-play, 75-yard drive that included three defensive penalties, a fourth-and-10 conversion at the Broncos 3 and zero Kansas City timeouts.
The Chiefs had burned their last two timeouts just before Trevor Siemian’s 76-yard touchdown toss to Bennie Fowler, who got behind cornerback Phillip Gaines with three minutes left that seemingly sealed Denver’s win.
Siemian threw for 368 yards and three TDs with no interceptions in his best game as a pro. But he was sacked five times as his O-line proved just as porous as it has all season even after team made better protection a priority following at their bye.
The game turned into the white knuckler the NFL expected when it flexed the AFC West showdown to Sunday night rather than having the Patriots-Jets game in prime time as originally scheduled.
But the first half was laborious – Kansas City managed just 49 yards of offense but led 9-3 thanks to a safety and Hill’s 86-yard touchdown return on the ensuing free kick.
Smith finished 26 of 44 for 220 yards with one TD and six sacks, half of them by Von Miller.
INJURY UPDATE Denver RB Kapri Bibbs was evaluated for a concussion after a helmet-to-helmet hit from S Eric Berry but returned later in the first quarter. Houston left for a few series but returned and the Chiefs never announced what his injury was.
Chiefs: K.C. continues its brutal road swing with a trip to Atlanta next weekend.
Broncos: After the lone November home game, the Broncos travel to Jacksonville.