DENVER (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs rediscovered their mojo but lost their maestro.
The Chiefs rallied around their fallen superstar and snapped a two-game skid with a 30-6 thrashing of the Denver Broncos on Thursday night after reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes dislocated his right knee in a pileup near the goal line in the first half.
“I’ve never seen anything like that on the field before,” Denver defensive end Shelby Harris said. “His knee was literally all the way to the side, his kneecap was. I wish him the best. We definitely need him in the league, he’s definitely a big attraction in the league.
“You never want to see anyone get hurt, especially like that. I hope everything is good and I hope he has a speedy recovery.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after the game that didn’t know how serious Mahomes’ injury was, but added that, “We’re good with whatever direction this thing goes.”
Backup Matt Moore threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill and the Chiefs (5-2) collected nine sacks, gave up a season-low 71 yards rushing and beat the Broncos (2-5) for the eighth straight time.
His balky left ankle heavily taped, Mahomes completed 10 of 11 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown, before getting injured on a successful sneak on fourth-and-inches at the Denver 5 early in the second quarter.
One by one, players peeled off the pile but when Mahomes didn’t get up , the stadium grew quiet, Broncos players knelt and some Chiefs stormed away in aguish as their quarterback ripped off his helmet and covered his face.
Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. went over to shake Mahomes’ hand as he awaited medical help, his right knee stuck in an awkward angle.
“Hopefully he’s not too injured, for the season,” Harris said. “He’s great for our league, he’s a great player. So, hopefully he’s not hurt too bad.”
As players milled about nervously, the Chiefs’ medical personnel appeared to pop Mahomes’ right knee back in place before he was helped from the field and taken into the locker room.
“Excited for the win,” Moore said. “At the same time, a guy like Patrick goes down it can be deflating.”
Before he got hurt, Mahomes became the fastest player in NFL history to throw for 7,500 yards, in just his 25th game.
“You feel for anybody that has something that looks like it may be pretty serious,” Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco said. “That’s not just other quarterbacks; that’s everybody. But man, a young guy like that who’s starting off his career the way he has and starting off this season the way he has, it’s definitely not easy to watch guys go down with injuries like that. I hope that he’s all right.”
Mahomes, who has 15 TDs and one interception this season, didn’t speak with reporters after the game but he did lead the team’s “breakdown,” in the winning locker room, praising Moore, who completed 10 of 19 passes for 117 yards, and the defense.
“Just seeing him in the locker room after the game, standing on his feet and just super optimistic about everything I think that shows one more time how strong of a man he is and how good of leader he is,” said guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. “He’s said, ‘I’m going to get better, we’re going to get this team back on track,’ and it was great to just see him walk and smile at the end.”
The Broncos had won two straight and were aiming to turn the AFC West upside down by handling the Chiefs their third straight loss. But the Chiefs, who were 24th in the league with just 11 sacks coming in, sacked Flacco a career-high eight times and held Denver’s running back duo in check after allowing an average of 190 over their previous four games.
When Flacco did stay upright to deliver deep passes, they fell incomplete. Rookie tight end Noah Fant dropped three passes that would have totaled more than 100 yards, and Denver converted just one of 13 third downs.
“This is about as bad an offense as I’ve seen,” Fox NFL analyst Troy Aikman exclaimed at one point. “I’m shocked there’s as many people still here at the game.”
Flacco, who was sacked five times and knocked down eight more times in 15 first-half drop-backs, was sack-stripped by linebacker Anthony Hutchins on the next series and linebacker Reggie Ragland scooped up the loose ball at the 5 and rumbled into the end zone for a 20-6 halftime lead.
The Chiefs even sacked punter Colby Wadman, who had nowhere to throw the ball on a failed fake punt that gave Kansas City the ball at the Broncos 38 on the drive that ended with Mahomes’ injury.
Other special teams follies included missing a 45-yard field goal, allowing a 37-yard punt return and failing to punch it in from a yard out on a 2-point conversion.
The Broncos went ahead 7-0 when Royce Freeman took it in from a yard out. But Vic Fangio decided to take the extra point off the board and go for 2 when Alex Okafor was whistled for encroachment on the PAT.
“I thought it was worth the gamble,” Fangio said.
Instead of handing the ball off to Freeman again, Fangio had Phillip Lindsay, who’s about 50 pounds lighter, pound the ball up the middle and he was stuffed, leaving the Chiefs celebrating.
Mahomes put Kansas City ahead on his first drive, somehow escaping Miller to fire a pass that safety Will Parks tipped but which Mecole Hardman reigned in anyway for a 21-yard score .
INJURIES: Parks (hand) and teammate LB Justin Hollins (knee) left the game.
Chiefs: Face the Green Bay Packers on Oct. 27.
Broncos: Visit the Indianapolis Colts on Oct. 27.
Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL