KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When the Kansas City Chiefs host Denver on Sunday, 3,297 days will have passed since the Broncos’ last victory in the 61-year-old rivalry.
The Chiefs have won 11 straight games in the series on the heels of a seven-game skid against the Peyton Manning-led teams, which dominated the AFC West from 2012-15.
Kansas City’s 11-game win streak against Denver is tied for the longest streak in the rivalry’s history, which dates back to 1960 when both teams were in the AFL.
Before relocating to Kansas City, the Dallas Texans were 6-0 in the first six games between the franchises.
The Chiefs won 11 straight against the Broncos from Nov. 1, 1964, through Nov. 27, 1969.
Kansas City was 19-1 against Denver during the 1960s, including its first three seasons in Dallas, and won 25 of the first 27 meetings.
The Broncos’ longest win streak during the 122-game rivalry has been eight straight games — Oct. 6, 1974, through Oct. 28, 1979.
That history, of course, will have little to do with the outcome when Denver visits GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium for a Sunday Night Football showdown in Kansas City, but it’s worth noting that quarterback Patrick Mahomes has never lost to the Broncos.
But that’s not to say Mahomes’ path to a perfect 7-0 record against one of the Chiefs’ biggest rivals has been easy.
He debuted against Denver in the 2017 regular-season finale as a rookie, needing a last-minute drive to deliver the win for Kansas City.
There was the left-handed third-down conversion on Monday Night Football a year later.
The streak includes other signature moments, like Dontari Poe’s jump pass for a dagger touchdown late in a blowout win.
The Chiefs (7-4) enter Sunday with a one-game lead in the AFC West, but with no margin for error in the next three weeks with games against the Broncos (6-5) and Las Vegas (6-5) at home followed by a Thursday night contest looming Dec. 16 at the Los Angeles Chargers (6-5).
Anatomy of a win streak
Nov. 15, 2015 — Chiefs 29, at Denver 13
An injured Peyton Manning made his last career regular-season start against the Chiefs, finishing 5 of 20 with four interceptions as Alex Smith led Kansas City to a lopsided win.
Manning broke Brett Favre’s record for most career passing yards in the loss. He wouldn’t play again until replacing Brock Osweiler in the second half of the regular-season finale before leading Denver to a victory in Super Bowl 50 against Carolina to cap the season and his career.
The Chiefs’ defense recorded 12 passes defended, including four by Eric Berry, and finished with five interceptions. Charcandrick West scored twice, including an 80-yard touchdown pass from Smith.
Nov. 27, 2016 — Chiefs 30, at Denver 27 (OT)
Tyreek Hill scored on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Alex Smith with 12 seconds left to tie the game before two Cairo Santos field goals in overtime, including one with 2 seconds remaining, delivered the first win for the Chiefs in five seasons.
Hill also scored on a kickoff return and 3-yard run in the first meeting between the teams after Peyton Manning’s retirement. His replacement, Trevor Siemian, threw for 368 yards and three touchdowns in the loss.
Justin Houston finished with three sacks and 10 tackles in the victory.
Dec. 25, 2016 — at Kansas City 33, Denver 10
Tyreek Hill scored on a 70-yard run and Travis Kelce scored on an 80-yard pass from Alex Smith in the lopsided win, which is best known for the Dontari Poe touchdown pass to Demetrius Harris in the final two minutes.
He’d scored a touchdown two months earlier on Hungry Pig Right, but this was a jump pass off a direct snap — that especially seemed to rankle Aqib Talib.
Oct. 30, 2017 — at Kansas City 29, Denver 19
Marcus Peters kicked things off with a 45-yard fumble return for a touchdown and Harrison Butker delivered five field goals.
But noted Bronco-buster Travis Kelce was the driving force with seven catches for 133 yards and a touchdown in the easy win. Justin Houston collected a couple more sacks as well.
Dec. 31, 2017 — Kansas City 27, at Denver 24
Patrick Mahomes made his NFL debut, finishing 22 of 35 for 284 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.
He led the Chiefs to a two-touchdown lead — with help from Ramik Wilson’s 11-yard fumble return TD — before authoring a two-minute drive after the Broncos knotted things up, which hinted at the heroics to come.
Mahomes went 4 of 6 for 52 yards on the game-clinching drive, which was capped by a 30-yard Harrison Butker field goal as time expired.
Less than a month later, Alex Smith was traded to the Washington Football Team to officially usher in the Mahomes era.
Oct. 1, 2018 — Kansas City 27, at Denver 23
Monday night. Mile High. Unbeaten Kansas City trying to prove it wasn’t a legit contender.
Mahomes slogged his way through three quarters against a stout Denver defense before authoring the first of many double-digit rallies as Mahomes Magic entered the national lexicon.
The Chiefs trailed 23-13 early in the fourth quarter before Mahomes led a 14-play march capped by a 2-yard TD toss to Travis Kelce. He finished the drive 8 of 10 for 84 yards, helping the offense overcome two 10-yard penalties and a third-and-16 scare.
The next drive, all Mahomes did was flip a left-handed pass to Tyreek Hill for a 6-yard completion on third-and-5 and erase a second-and-30 after the penalty bug bit again.
Mahomes finished that drive 6 of 7 for 77 yards before Kareem Hunt capped a 121-yard rushing day with the 4-yard game-winner.
Mahomes was only 28 of 45 for 304 yards with one touchdown in the game, but he went 14 of 17 for 161 yards in the fourth quarter alone — and a legend was born.
Oct. 28, 2018 — at Kansas City 30, Denver 23
The final score makes it seem closer than it was, but Patrick Mahomes and company dominated. He finished 24 of 34 for 303 yards with four touchdowns and an interception as he continued his march to NFL MVP honors.
Sammy Watkins had one of his finest days with the Chiefs, totaling eight catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns, while Kelce added to his collection of touchdowns versus the Broncos and Dee Ford finished with three sacks.
Oct. 17, 2019 — Kansas City 30, at Denver 6
Call it the moment the Chiefs’ Super Bowl almost wasn’t. Reigning MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes suffered a dislocated knee early in the second quarter on a QB sneak — he got the first down, but Andy Reid’s never dared to run the play with Mahomes again.
Kansas City led 13-6 after that drive and cruised from there behind Matt Moore, who’d go 1-1 as a starter in Mahomes’ absence recovering from the knee injury.
Within four months, the Chiefs would win the franchise’s first Lombardi Trophy in 50 years behind Mahomes’ continued on-field heroics.
Anthony Hitchens, Frank Clark and Alex Okafor each had two sacks for a defense that racked nine against statuesque Joe Flacco.
Dec. 15, 2019 — at Kansas City 23. Denver 3
The rematch wasn’t fair. Drew Lock returned to his hometown as an NFL rookie and faced a defense that had hit its championship stride.
Tyreek Hill caught two touchdowns from Patrick Mahomes to bookend a trio of Harrison Butker field goals. Mic’d up during the game, the Texas-born Mahomes decided “I think I’m a snow-game guy” before a quick José Feliciano homage with a few bars of “Feliz Navidad.”
Mahomes finished 27 of 34 for 340 yards with two touchdowns and an interception as Kansas City won the fourth of what would be nine straight to close the season, culminating in a Super Bowl LIV victory.
Oct. 25, 2020 — Kansas City 43, at Denver 16
One of 14 times Kansas City, which is 67-55 all-time against Denver, has hung a 40-burger in the series. It was the most points the Chiefs had scored on the Broncos in a decade.
Daniel Sorenson returned an interception of Drew Lock for a touchdown and Byron Pringle housed a kickoff return in a game that saw Chad Henne play significant mop-up minutes with the final result well in hand.
Sorenson and Charvarius led a strong defensive performance in a Denver snowstorm — the second straight game in the series to be played in the snow — with nine tackles apiece.
Dec. 6, 2020 — at Kansas City 22, Denver 16
It was a sloppy game for the Chiefs, who would improve to 11-1 with the win on the way to a second straight AFC title and Super Bowl appearance.
Kansas City struggled to find the end zone, managing only four Harrison Butker field goals and a 12-10 lead by the end of the opening drive in the third quarter.
The Broncos even took the lead late in the third period on Tim Patrick’s second touchdown catch of the game from Drew Lock, but Patrick Mahomes answered with a 20-yard TD to noted Denver-tormenter Travis Kelce in rallying for the win.
Patrick Mahomes threw for 318 yards, Kelce caught eight passes for 136 yards and Tyrann Mathieu picked off Lock twice as the Chiefs tamed the Broncos once more.