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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Chiefs could have sleepwalked through their game against the Denver Broncos on Sunday night, content that they were going to the playoffs after Pittsburgh beat Baltimore earlier in the day.
Travis Kelce did enough on his own to dismiss any such thought.
Not only did he haul in 11 catches for 160 yards and a touchdown in a 33-10 victory, a performance that drew parallels to former Chiefs star Tony Gonzalez, but he also delivered the two crushing blocks that sprung Alex Smith and Tyreek Hill for early touchdown runs.
It was a virtuoso performance on every level by the Pro Bowl tight end.
"At the end of the day, it's a prideful matter, whether or not you're able to play to the whistle," said Kelce, who not only surpassed the 1,000-yard mark in a season for the first time but moved into fourth place in franchise history with his 47th straight game with a catch.
"It was a tough game for us," Kelce said, "even though the score may not look like it."
In truth, not a whole lot looked tough for Kansas City.
Smith threw for 244 yards and a touchdown. Hill was briefly over the 100-yard mark on the ground before a couple of late losses dropped him under the mark. And even 346-pound defensive tackle Dontari Poe managed to throw a touchdown pass in the closing minutes to punctuate the win.
"It was a tremendous evening all the way around," said Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, whose franchise is in the playoffs in back-to-back years for the first time since making it from 1990-95.
"I want to tip my hat to the fans that came out on a wet night and cheered us on Christmas Day," Hunt said. "We're excited as an organization and a family to be back in the playoffs."
The Chiefs (11-4) will now work on improving their seed. A win next weekend in San Diego and an Oakland loss in Denver would give them the division title for the first time since 2010, not to mention a first-round bye and home playoff game.
Meanwhile, the Broncos (8-7) had any chance of defending their Super Bowl title swept away.
"We can't win all the time. We had a great run," Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. "Five straight AFC West titles — I guess it's time for somebody else to win."
Here are some of the other takeaways from a lopsided matchup between longtime rivals:
SIEMIAN STRUGGLES: Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian was 17 of 43 for 183 yards with a pick on the final play of the game. The only touchdown drive he led came after the Denver defense gave him the ball at the Kansas City 6, and Justin Forsett plunged into the end zone two plays later.
TYREEK THE FREAK: Hill became the first Chiefs player to score four TDs against the Broncos in a season since Otis Taylor in 1967. The rookie wide receiver had touchdowns on the ground, through the air and on a kickoff return when the teams met in November.
"I mean, we were going against the top defense this week. It's never easy," Hill said. "This is the NFL, everybody is good. I was just able to make a play, I guess."
BANGED-UP BRONCOS: The once-vaunted Denver defense was already missing Brandon Marshall to an ailing hamstring and safety T.J. Ward to a concussion. Then, defensive end Derek Wolfe left with a neck injury, cornerback Kayvon Webster sustained a concussion and nose tackle Sylvester Williams had to be helped off the field — all told, four starters and a backup were sidelined.
Not surprisingly, the Chiefs had 330 yards of total offense by halftime.
"We haven't given up that type of ball movement in a while," Kubiak said. "Amazing thing, we're still 21-10 (at halftime). Disappointed. We didn't play good in any phase to win the game."
SMITH'S SCRAMBLES: Smith ran four times for 46 yards, highlighted by his 10-yard TD run early in the game. That gave him 1,295 yards rushing in his four seasons in Kansas City, breaking Len Dawson's record for most yards by a quarterback. Dawson had 1,253 yards from 1962-75.
POE MAN'S TD: Poe scored on a touchdown reception against Oakland earlier this season, so maybe it wasn't such a surprise that the big defensive tackle added a TD pass to his stat line.
"Listen, he scored, it's like we scored," fellow defensive tackle Chris Jones said. "We're just big quarterbacks, but we're quarterbacks. We have the softest touch ... but we are quarterbacks."
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