With snow swirling all afternoon, the Chiefs relentlessly pounded the former Missouri standout in his first game at Arrowhead Stadium. Lock finished 18 of 40 for 208 yards with an oh-my interception in the end zone, and the result was a 23-3 blitzing by the AFC West champions as they continued their march toward the postseason.
“You know, it’s disappointing,” Lock said, “but it doesn’t have anything to do with coming home. I would be disappointed anywhere in the country if I played like this. When you come out with a loss, you never get excited. Disappointment is always going to be the reaction.”
Lock grew up in the Kansas City suburb of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and had plenty of Chiefs gear growing up. But he tossed the majority of it out when the Broncos selected him in the draft, and dozens of friends and family who braved the cold weather and constant snowfall likewise ditched their yellow and red for bright orange and blue.
There weren’t a whole lot of highlights for them.
Lock was sacked by blitzing safety Tyrann Mathieu the first time he dropped back to pass. He was whistled for a delay-of-game penalty the second time the Broncos called a pass play. And things never got a whole lot better as the Broncos kept punting the ball away, the Chiefs kept scoring and the game soon got out of hand.
“It was a tough day, obviously, when we only score three (points). There is not much good there,” said Broncos coach Vic Fangio, whose team was eliminated from the playoffs for the fourth straight year. “I thought (Lock) handled the conditions well. I think it is a game under these conditions that he can bank and learn from.”
There were reasons to expect Lock to have a triumphant homecoming. He was coming off a masterful performance in Houston in which he became the first NFL rookie to throw for at least 300 yards and three TDs in a road debut.
But the Chiefs’ defense, which was so bad last year that it underwent a near-complete offseason overhaul, showed just how far it has come under new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. With mixed coverages, perfectly timed blitzes and enough push up front, the Chiefs were able to hold Denver to just 251 yards.
“He may not have had the game that he wanted, coming back home, but he’s going to be a good quarterback in this league,” Mathieu said. “I could tell, looking into his eyes, he can throw the football. He believes in his arm. Obviously, they have got to get guys around him, but going forward competing against him is going to be fun because he likes to throw the ball.”
Lock certainly could use another set of hands. He completed a 43-yard pass to rookie tight end Noah Fant and a 33-yarder to Courtland Sutton, but otherwise had to settle for a dink-and-dunk game. And in the rare instances he had time to throw, and delivered a ball downfield, it seemed somebody was allowing it to bounce off their hands.
“Obviously we had three points, so starting with everyone on the offense, we have to be better,” said Broncos offensive lineman Dalton Risner, who had his own cheering section after starring at Kansas State. “But he kept great composure. He wasn’t shutting down, he wasn’t pouting or anything like that. The guy got hit a lot today, under some pressure, only his third game in the NFL, he’s in his home city. I think he did great as always. I’m one of his biggest fans.”
The performance wasn’t nearly what Lock envisioned Sunday. Nor was the result.
But he still had a memorable trip to Arrowhead Stadium, and he’s confident that the return trips will be much better.
“I think, you know, just getting the chance to play here was awesome,” Lock said. “Obviously, you’d like to win. But I don’t think this will be the last time I’ll be visiting Arrowhead. I definitely wouldn’t like to think it’s going to be like that every single time we come here to play at Arrowhead.”