In their final game of the 2021 regular season, the Kansas City Chiefs went into Colorado coming off a tough loss and were facing the Denver Broncos. It wasn't the prettiest of wins, but Kansas City was able to secure a 28-24 win and lock down at least the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs. Now, the Chiefs wait for the outcome of Sunday's Houston Texans-Tennessee Titans matchup to see whether they can come away with a first-round bye.
Here are four takeaways from Saturday's game.
1. The field conditions were less than ideal
Since the opening moments of Saturday's game, it appeared that the conditions at Empower Field would prove to be troublesome all afternoon. That was certainly the case, as players for both teams were sliding around the field. The lackluster field conditions were never more obvious than they were when Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker slipped on a kickoff attempt. The outcome of the game wasn't determined by how difficult it was for players to get and keep traction — everyone was playing on the same surface — but especially in a Week 18 game, one would expect safety to be a top priority.
2. Kansas City got banged up
Speaking of safety, the Chiefs did not escape their 17th game of the season unscathed. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill injured his heel in warmups and was in and out of the lineup throughout the afternoon. Tight end Travis Kelce came up limping after a game-sealing first down reception. Running back Darrel Williams suffered a toe injury at the end of the first half and did not return in the second half. Wideout Byron Pringle nearly converted on a third-and-20 play but exited the game thereafter. It isn't as if the Chiefs had nothing to play for, though, so having starters on the field in a Week 18 game cannot be a point of criticism. That's the risk teams run every week, and Kansas City still isn't in a terrible spot health-wise as it heads into the playoffs. With that said, the Chiefs' offense encountered some bumps in the road on Saturday en route to their win.
3. Mecole Hardman had himself a day
Against the Broncos, Mecole Hardman stepped up in a major way. Hill's availability was spotty and in his absence, the Chief able to imitate him the closest did a solid job. Hardman's speed was a true advantage on multiple occasions, as he eluded shoestring tackles and burst through gaps on screen passes. He also recorded a 100-yard receiving game for the first time in his career. The Chiefs' wide receiver No. 2 role has been up for grabs for parts of the year and on Saturday, it was Hardman's job for the taking. He ran with it, literally and figuratively, and helped Patrick Mahomes out in a major way.
4. Melvin Ingram did his thing... again
The Chiefs' midseason trade acquisition of Melvin Ingram has to go down as one of the better in-season moves in franchise history. He's made several plays for the Chiefs' defense and against Denver, he sniffed out multiple run plays and even forced a fumble that led to a Nick Bolton return for a touchdown. Ingram is far from a star-level player but on a defensive front that also features Chris Jones and Frank Clark, he's turned out to be a perfect complementary piece. Steve Spagnuolo's unit is in good hands when Ingram is at his best, and he was darn near that to close out the regular season.