The Kansas City Chiefs snapped their three-game losing streak about as emphatically as an NFL team can do by blowing out the Washington Redskins 45-10 Sunday afternoon at FedEx Field. This game lost all drama early as the Chiefs used phenomenal special teams play, an opportunistic defense, and an almost mechanical efficiency on offense to jump to a 17-0 first quarter lead and put the game out of reach.
However, the star of the game easily was punt returner Dexter McCluster, who just welcomed a baby daughter into the world earlier this week. Ava Marie McCluster’s daddy set up the Chiefs first TD with a nifty 60-yard punt return to the Redskins 13-yard line. Later in the half, he scored on a 74-yard return on his way to challenging the NFL record for punt return yards in a game. McCluster eventually missed out on the NFL record (LeRoy Irvin, 1981 Rams – 207 yards) when the Redskins came to their senses and stopped punting the ball inbounds, but settled for the Chiefs franchise record of 177 yards.
The Chiefs (10-3), who lost two games to the red-hot Denver Broncos sandwiched around a gut-wrenching last-second loss at home to the San Diego Chargers, went back to doing what they did so well during their record-breaking 9-0 start to the season. They beat up on a bad team. And there may not be a worse team in the NFL right now than the Redskins (3-10), who lost their fifth straight game Sunday and whose coach, Mike Shanahan, appears increasingly likely to be gone after a third losing season in four years.
Not many Chiefs fans would shed a tear over that turn of events. And it's never a good sign when the television broadcasters discuss breaking news from the Washington paper Sunday morning that Shanahan had cleaned out his office after the 2012 season and was ready to quit. Somehow, there might not be much of an uproar in D.C. if he pulls the same stunt this year.
Shanahan’s Redskins looked very similar to the Chiefs teams of the previous two years, barely putting up a fight once KC got up two scores. Kansas City scored on their first four possessions, sacked Redskins QB Robert Griffin III five times and back-up Kirk Cousins once, and Quinton Demps answered Washington’s only TD of the game with a 95-yard kickoff return for a TD of his own, putting the Chiefs up 38-7 before halftime.
Chiefs fans – along with the coaching staff – were probably most pleased with the six sacks. The team had suffered a sack drought with just two in the last four games after leading the NFL with 36 sacks in their first nine games. Tamba Hali and Tyson Jackson (yes … THAT Tyson Jackson) had two sacks, while Eric Berry and Frank Zombo added one sack apiece. Zombo’s sack was a welcome sight since he is filling in for the injured Justin Houston.
The game began under a falling blanket of snow, but to the Chiefs, it might as well have been sunny and 70 degrees as they took the opening kickoff and gained 8, 9, 22 and 13 yards on their first four plays. The Redskins defense made one of their only stops of the first half by holding Kansas City to a 33-yard Ryan Succop field goal.
But the Chiefs were so dominant that the images flashing across the television screen told the story of the game without words. The snowfall covered the entire stadium, but because all the action was taking place on the Redskins side of the field, almost all the footprints in the snow were on that side of the 50 yard line. The Chiefs side of the field only showed the footsteps of the special teams from kickoffs and a couple of punts.
Alex Smith completed 14 of 20 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns and was only held back by the fact that the defense and special teams kept giving the Chiefs the ball deep in Redskins territory.. Jamaal Charles ran 19 times for 151 yards and a score, and his 35-yard, right-then-left scamper was a highlight of the second half. Dwayne Bowe caught four balls for 69 yards and a TD, and Derrick Johnson set up the Chiefs second touchdown with a 40-yard interception return.
The runbacks by Demps and McCluster were the ninth and 10th return touchdowns for the Chiefs this season: four on interceptions, two on fumbles, two on punt returns and two on kickoff returns.
After the game was pretty much over in the middle of the third quarter, Chiefs coach Andy Reid started substituting for his starters like it was an exhibition game in August. Reid picked up his 150th career win as a head coach and completed a sweep of his former division, the NFC East in his first year in Kansas City.
Third-round pick Knile Davis took over for Charles, and scored his first rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter, leaping over his own man and breaking a tackle for a 17-yard run. Later, Smith went to the bench while former Mizzou Tigers QB Chase Daniel got his first action of the year.
The only bad thing to happen for KC all day were the two late-game comebacks by the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins that prevented the Chiefs from clinching a playoff spot outright. The Chiefs can do that next week when they travel to the other side of the country and take on the Oakland Raiders in (hopefully) sunny California on Sunday afternoon.
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