Paul Klee's rapid reactions from Thursday night inside Empower Field at Mile High:

1. The story Thursday was not the end result, but the reckless actions of the Kansas City Chiefs to put reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes in harm’s way. Mahomes left in the second quarter with a knee injury and did not return to the game. Can anyone else figure out a good reason why the Chiefs played Quarterback Jesus with a bunk ankle, on a short week, against a Broncos defense that just TKO’ed Marcus Mariota four days ago? That, friends, is how you go 50 years without a Super Bowl. It’s also how a man who’s a 2021 free agent goes somewhere else. Hey, I told them not to play Mahomes on Thursday. Even wrote he would leave the game early. They never listen.

2. Pathetic. Embarrassing. And another thing about Thursday: the truth about these Broncos. The boos that trailed the Broncos into halftime weren’t loud enough. Six points through three quarters against a K.C. defense that ranks in the bottom third of almost every statistical category? Yikes. This was criminal football by the Broncos. They ran a fake punt that had a better chance of appearing on “Shaqtin a Fool” than a highlight reel. They had 85 yards at halftime — in penalties and sacks. They short-armed passes (Noah “Business Decision” Fant) and saw three more holding penalties on tackle Garett Bolles. What should’ve been Vic Fangio’s best moment yet — against a Chiefs team without Mahomes — was a stain on his time here.

3. Without knowing the status of Mahomes, who underwent an X-Ray but not an MRI at Empower Field at Mile High, the Broncos saw a golden opportunity to rise up the AFC West power rankings slip away. Kansas City without Mahomes is no world beater. The Raiders look like the second-best team in the division, and they must go on the road to Green Bay and Houston the next two Sundays. We’ve all seen the Chargers are no threat. Future in front of them, the Broncos puked up Mom's spaghetti.

4. Broncos offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello warned against expecting too much from rookie tight end Noah Fant. Hope he’s right. A trio of calculated misjudgments from Fant cost the Broncos dearly. One came on a sideline route, when Joe Flacco threaded the needle but Fant didn’t come back to the ball. Another came on a seam route where Flacco zipped a brilliant pass to Fant, who short-armed the offering and came away empty. And the final straw came on a long pattern down the right sideline, where Fant dropped it. Long way to go for the rookie, who’s hardly measuring up to Steelers rookie linebacker Devin Bush (the Broncos traded down).

5. The Broncos’ problems since Super Bowl 50 are often traced back to their decisions at quarterback. But it’s the offensive line that is the source of their biggest issues. Bolles had his first game with multiple holding penalties since the infamous four-penalty game. Running backs Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman averaged just 2.1 yards per carry in the first half while running through holes that never appeared. Best wishes to offensive line coach Mike Munchak, who has his hands full. And wouldn’t it be nice if the Broncos find out Drew Lock is a real, live starting quarterback, so John Elway can spend that first-round pick on a sweet lineman? Play the rook. ASAP.

(Contact Gazette sports columnist Paul Klee at paul.klee@gazette.com or on Twitter at @bypaulklee.)

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