KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs clinched a playoff berth before taking a snap Christmas night against the Denver Broncos, but the team still delivered a postseason-caliber effort against the Denver Broncos with that pleased coach Andy Reid.
“I could go through and name off a bunch of different thinks,” Reid said. “It was a good team win all around.”
Kelce and wide receiver Hill, both held in check a week ago in a loss to Tennessee, each scored on long touchdowns as the Chiefs fed the offensive playmakers early and often.
The rookie Hill briefly topped the 100-yard mark in rushing including a 70-yard touchdown run. Hill took the ball on a counter play, and a one-on-one block by Kelce on a safety freed Hill for the score.
“Kelce made a great block on the edge,” Hill said. “I sprang free and was able to make a play.”
Hill tallied six carries in the game, but the Broncos appeared to key on Hill each time he lined up in the backfield after the touchdown run. A couple of runs for losses late pushed Hill down to 95 yards for the game. No Chiefs rookie receiver ever rushed for more yards in game.
“They already knew what was coming,” Hill said. “It was like shooting the A-gaps hard.”
Kelce added an 80-yard touchdown reception of his own, hauling in 11 catches for 160 yards. That broke the team record for receiving yards for a tight end of 147 yards set by Tony Gonzalez against New England Dec. 4, 2000.
Kelce jokingly apologized for breaking Gonzalez’s record on Christmas Day.
“It’s an honor,” Kelce said. “He’s the greatest ever to do it at my position, and even to be in the same sentence as him is humbling.”
Mobile and agile quarterback Alex Smith, whose running presence remained absence much of the season, added a touchdown run of his own. Smith rushed four times for 46 yards.
Smith rushed for 498 yards a season ago, but posted just 113 yards this season with one game to go.
“Feels like it had been a while,” Smith said. “We’ve been joking in the QB room. I don’t know why or what reason or one thing to point to why it hasn’t been there this year. But it was nice get a few today, designed runs as well as scrambles.”
The Chiefs defense, meanwhile, stifled the Broncos defense much of the night. The Denver running attack found few holes in the Kansas City defense, and the Chiefs front seven harassed quarterback Trevor Siemian repeatedly.
The defense accomplished the task without All-Pro linebacker Justin Houston. Houston missed the game after battling inflammation in his surgically repaired knee during the week.
Defensive tackle Dontari Poe said the defense wanted to respond against the Broncos.
“We knew we had to come out and just plan good team defense, just be relentless and play football,” Poe said.
Poe delivered the final blow against the Broncos himself, lining up in the backfield on offense with seven offensive lineman blocking in front of him. Poe took a Wildcat snap from center and ran toward the line before jumping and throwing a touchdown pass to tight end Demetrius Harris.
Kansas City clinched a playoff berth Sunday afternoon thanks to Pittsburgh’s 31-27 win over Baltimore.
“Unforgettable,” Poe said about the Christmas night win. “It was a pretty fun day.”
The Chiefs win keeps the team in the race for the AFC West title. A win next week at San Diego coupled with an Oakland loss at Denver gives the Chiefs the division title and a first-round bye in the playoffs.