Broncos get first big win with Sean Payton, snap 16-game losing streak to Chiefs

The Denver Broncos had their first big win of the Sean Payton era. It was arguably their biggest win since Super Bowl 50.

The question becomes: What do the Broncos do before Tuesday's trading deadline?

The Broncos beat the Kansas City Chiefs 24-9, snapping a 16-game losing streak to the best team in their division. That streak dated to 2015, when Peyton Manning was still the team's quarterback. There were a lot of dark days since then for the Broncos, including this season.

The Broncos looked like sure sellers at the deadline when they were 1-5. Maybe Denver talks itself into seeing if it can get in the playoff race after a modest two-game winning streak.

Broncos break long losing streak vs. Chiefs

The last time Denver beat Kansas City was Sept. 17, 2015 in a Thursday night game. The Broncos won that game on a fumble return for a score in the final minute, right after they took the lead. Manning threw for three touchdowns in that game. Two days later, Patrick Mahomes threw for 243 yards as Texas Tech beat Arkansas 35-24.

During Sunday's game, CBS relayed a startling stat about the Broncos' losing streak to the Chiefs. During the streak, they had never even led by 10 or more points. They took a 14-3 lead in the first half Sunday.

The Broncos lost to the Chiefs two weeks ago, but the defense's play was a positive. That group gave up just 19 points. For a defense that yielded 70 to the Miami Dolphins earlier this season, it was a gigantic step forward.

Denver was even better against Kansas City's offense Sunday. The defense forced four turnovers, including a fumble and two interceptions by Mahomes. The second interception, by safety Justin Simmons with 4:45 left, started the celebration in Denver. Before Sunday, Mahomes was 16-0 as a starter in AFC West road games. Another long streak came to an end in Denver.

The Broncos' defense was the worst in football over the first six games of the season. The offense wasn't as bad as it was last season but it had disappointing moments. Everything about Payton's first Broncos team looked awful. That seems to be starting to turn.

The win over the Chiefs gives Broncos fans their first chance to feel good about their team in a long, long time.

Courtland Sutton of the Denver Broncos celebrates a touchdown during the fourth quarter of a win against the Chiefs. (Photo by Justin Tafoya/Getty Images)
Courtland Sutton of the Denver Broncos celebrates a touchdown during the fourth quarter of a win against the Chiefs. (Photo by Justin Tafoya/Getty Images)

Chiefs give a game away

The Chiefs weren't playing well but the Broncos couldn't put them away. Denver caught a break early in the fourth quarter when Mecole Hardman muffed a punt deep in Chiefs territory and the Broncos recovered. Russell Wilson hit Courtland Sutton for a touchdown shortly after that and the Broncos had a 21-9 lead.

The Chiefs have been good this season but not as dominant as usual. A bad loss like the one Sunday was overdue. The Chiefs didn't get enough going on offense and had some terrible mistakes that allowed the Broncos to get the upset. The Chiefs have dominated the Broncos for so long, it was strange to see them struggle on Sunday.

The Broncos had a bad start to the season and one win over the Chiefs doesn't make them playoff contenders all of a sudden. But at 3-5 they won't feel like their season is dead. Whereas players like Jerry Jeudy and Simmons seemed like candidates to be dealt before the league's trade deadline, perhaps being back to 3-5 will change the Broncos' approach.

It will be an interesting week in Denver. And, for the first time in a while, a happy one for Broncos fans.