KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Drew Lock got his fourth crack at his hometown team as an NFL quarterback.
Ultimately, the Denver Broncos lost to the Kansas City Chiefs for the 13th straight time Saturday, falling 28-24 at home when Lock's former University of Missouri-Columbia teammate Nick Bolton returned a fumble 86 yards for the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.
But Lock delivered a gritty performance, especially during the final three quarters in what has to be viewed as an important game for Lock, who finished 12 of 24 for 162 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
During his rookie season, Lock led the Denver Broncos to a 4-1 record down the stretch, fueling a belief by some that the franchise had finally found its next quarterback.
The Broncos have cycled through nearly a dozen passers since Peyton Manning retired after leading the franchise to a Super Bowl 50 win.
Lock’s only loss as a rookie came against the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs, but he only went 4-9 in 2020 as the full-time starter — missing time with a shoulder injury, completing a meager 57.3% of his passes and leading the NFL with 15 interceptions.
Denver brought in veteran Teddy Bridgewater to compete for the starting quarterback job in the offseason, and Lock was demoted to second string after losing a training-camp battle.
He saw limited action behind Bridgewater during the first 15 weeks of the season, completing 22 of 40 passes for 227 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in spot duty. That included a critical lost fumble late in a 15-10 Week 15 loss against Cincinnati after Bridgewater got knocked from the game.
The next week, Lock stepped back into a starting role for the last three weeks of the season after Bridgewater suffered a concussion, eventually landing on injured reserve.
Lock didn't commit any turnovers during those three games, but Denver also went 0-3 and slid from playoff contention.
During losses to Las Vegas and the Los Angeles Chargers, Lock showed signs of improvement, finishing a combined 33 of 47 for 398 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions.
But his fourth career start against his hometown Chiefs provided a chance to leave a lasting impression on the Broncos’ brass and other NFL teams heading into the offseason.
Lock, who won the Thomas A. Simone Award in 2014 as the top football player in the Kansas City area as a senior at Lee’s Summit High School, entered the NFL as a second-round pick in 2019 after a record-setting career at MU.
Next season will be the final year of his four-year rookie deal worth $7 million.
Lock — who has struggled historically against Kansas City, going 57 of 108 for 613 yards with two touchdowns and five interceptions the three previous meetings — struggled early, misfiring on his first five throws.
He went 4 of 5 for 27 yards the rest of the way in the first half, but also did significant damage with his legs.
Lock, who entered the game with 68 rushing yards and three touchdowns in his NFL career, scored on runs of 5 and 23 yards.
He finished the first half with four carries for 35 yards and two scores in helping the Broncos build a 14-10 halftime lead.
On Denver’s first drive of the second half, Lock only completed one pass, but it was a critical 31-yard dart to Tim Patrick on third-and-13 that set the stage for a go-ahead 47-yard Melvin Gordon III touchdown.
He finished the second half 8 of 14 for 135 yards, closing the game by completing 12 of 19 for 162 yards in the final three-plus quarters.