DENVER -- If the Kansas City Chiefs wind up making the playoffs, they will be carried there by a most unlikely source.
Tyreek Hill, a player selected in the fifth round of this year’s draft and expected to be a kick returner and gadget player, was the star in Sunday night’s 30-27 overtime win over the Denver Broncos. He scored all three of the Chiefs’ touchdowns, each coming in a different manner.
The Chiefs moved to 8-3. They are one game behind the 9-2 Oakland Raiders and one ahead of the 7-4 Broncos in the AFC West.
They won on Cairo Santos' 34-yard field goal with no time remaining. Santos' kick banged hard off the left upright but bounced through the goalpost.
Hill scored on an 86-yard kickoff return, a 3-yard run and a 3-yard pass for the touchdown that, with the two-point conversion, put the game into overtime.
"They told me after the game," Hill said. "I was like, 'Man, that's great.'
"Whatever they want me to do, I'm going to do it. I'm going to make the plays. If the ball comes to me, I'm going to make the plays. If it [doesn't], I'm full speed."
Speed is why the Chiefs drafted Hill, but they thought he would put it to good use this season mostly as a kick returner. The Chiefs had no idea Hill would be such a big part of their offense when they drafted him. He was a bit player when the season began.
But his playing time slowly increased as the season progressed. Then Jeremy Maclin left the Chiefs' lineup in a Nov. 6 game against the Jaguars, and the Chiefs had little choice but to turn to Hill.
"With [Maclin] out, there's an opportunity for some other guys to step up," quarterback Alex Smith said. "He's got more on his plate and he's handled it really, really well. He's obviously a big part of what we're doing."
He has responded with big plays, but Sunday night was his breakout game on the prime-time stage. He leads the Chiefs with seven touchdowns. No other Kansas City player has more than three.
Hill gives the Chiefs something to look forward to down the stretch. They’re not getting much offense from elsewhere, but he has prevented a complete offensive collapse.
The rookie led the Chiefs with nine receptions Sunday night.