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Chiefs still see ‘room to improve’ despite 5th win

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Chiefs still see ‘room to improve’ despite 5th win

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Denver Broncos for the 16th consecutive time on Thursday night while winning their fifth straight game and moving to an AFC-best 5-1.

But much of the talk in their locker room after their 19-8 victory was about its uninspiring manner. While the Chiefs on defense strangled Russell Wilson and the Broncos for most of the game, allowing Denver its only touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, Patrick Mahomes and the offense were searching for answers.

The Chiefs scored one touchdown in five trips inside the Denver 20 and needed four field goals from Harrison Butker, including a 60-yarder on the final play of the first half, to prevail.

Even Kansas City coach Andy Reid, who has never seen his team claim an ugly victory, said, “We strive for something better than what we’re doing right now.”

The Chiefs aren’t exactly struggling on offense this season. They are ninth in scoring at 24.5 points per game and seventh in yards at 382 yards per game.

However, that’s below the standards they’ve set since Mahomes became their starter in 2018. To win games, they’ve had to rely on their defense, which against the Broncos held an opponent to 10 points or fewer for the third time this season and took a shutout into the fourth quarter for the second time.

“Luckily for us, our defense is playing great so we can go through these growing pains and try to get better and better,” Mahomes said. “The talent is there. You can see it in spurts.

“I thought we did a great job of staying patient, getting the ball down the field, but in this league, three points and seven points is just such a big difference, and so I think if we found a way to execute in the red zone and score those touchdowns, we’d come away feeling great. Since we didn’t, we have a lot of room to improve and so that’s just something that we’ve got to continue to work on. It’s just putting a full game together. Let’s put a full game together and see what we can do.”

Mahomes said the Chiefs usually build their offensive identity as the season goes on, but the process is taking longer this season. Travis Kelce, with nine catches against the Broncos, is again a consistent receiving threat, and running back Isiah Pacheco is averaging 4.4 yards per carry.

But the Chiefs are struggling to find wide receivers they can count on. The most reliable has been a rookie, Rashee Rice, who has 21 catches and a pair of touchdowns. He is their only wide receiver with at least 12 receptions and an average of more than 10 yards per catch.

“We’re getting more [deep] coverage than even I expected,” Mahomes said. “There’s a lot of deep coverages and it’s forced us to be patient, drive the length of the field …

“We did a good job driving the field, we just didn’t score the touchdowns today. So the defenses are going to do that. We’ll continue to get better and better at it, and then when the opportunity arises and we get man coverage, we have to make sure we hit those deep ones.”

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