In what may be the most entertaining edge-of-your-seat game of the year for the Kansas City Chiefs – at least until they play the Denver Broncos – the hometown team held off a focused Houston Texans squad to take a 17-16 win at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. The win left the Chiefs with a perfect 7-0 record and still in first place in the AFC West.
Jamaal Charles scored on a one-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, Alex Smith turned a broken play into a five-yard touchdown run just before halftime that gave the Chiefs a 14-10 lead. Finally, Ryan Succop’s 22-yard field goal with three minutes left in the third quarter provided the Chiefs the winning points.
As usual this season, the Chiefs defense showed up when it mattered most with five sacks in the second half and holding Houston to two field goals, despite giving up several big plays in the passing game. The defense, which led the NFL in scoring coming into the game, continually made big plays in the second half to keep the home crowd loud and raucous.
In what might have been the key defensive stand of the game, the Chiefs defense held the Texans to a field goal after facing first-and-goal at the 1-yard line in the third quarter. That stand kept the Chiefs in the lead at 14-13. Once the fourth quarter began, the defense kept turning Houston back on every series.
The Chiefs’ fifth sack shut down any chance Houston had at a last-minute scoring drive when the reigning AFC Defensive Player of the Week, Tamba Hali, sacked and stripped quarterback Case Keenum at the Houston six-yard line with 1:34 left in the game. Linebacker Derrick Johnson fell on the ball at the one-yard line, sealing the win. Alex Smith knelt down three times while the clock ran out and KC walked off the field 7-0.
Keenum, making his first NFL start, was clearly unruffled by the crowd inside Arrowhead Stadium and calmly guided Houston into the lead twice during the game. After Charles’ TD run put the Chiefs up 7-3, Keenum hit DeVier Posey for a 42-yard reception, and then found DeAndre Hopkins – who ran right past cornerback Sean Smith – for a 29-yard touchdown reception and a 10-7 lead.
However his most impressive play might have come with the Chiefs leading 17-16 early in the fourth quarter. Facing a 4th-and-goal on the Houston 1-yard line, Chiefs coach Andy Reid bypassed an almost automatic field goal and went for a touchdown. Alex Smith’s pass to tight end Sean McGrath was out of bounds, so the Texans took over with a deafening crowd behind them and 99 yards of real estate ahead of them.
Keenum’s pass on first down fell incomplete, but his next throw was a perfect strike to Hopkins 35 yards downfield for a first down and some breathing room. It would have been an impressive throw for Tom Brady, but for someone starting his first game, it took guts and a strong right arm.
Smith, the KC quarterback that is subjected to weekly criticisms of his throwing ability, played better than he had the last two weeks, but did miss a couple of chances to give the Chiefs a more comfortable lead, and he did have another interception. However, he also attempted to go down the field more with his throws and more importantly, spread the ball around to all his receivers. Therefore the Texans – the #1 defense in the NFL – could not key on any one player.
And as has been the case for the first seven weeks of the season, Smith walked off the field as a winner. In the Super Bowl era, 31 teams have started 7-0 and all 31 qualified for the playoffs. Fifteen of those 31 clubs advanced to the Super Bowl and nine won the Super Bowl. So he has that going for him … which is nice.
The Broncos are playing the Indianapolis Colts tonight in the late game and they can also improve to 7-0. If Denver wins, this will be only the second time since the divisional structure was implemented in 1933 that two teams in the same division started 7-0. In 1934, the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears, then members of the NFL’s Western Division, each started 10-0.
The Chiefs will end their three game home stand next Sunday when they welcome the Cleveland Browns (3-4) to Arrowhead. Rest up the vocal cords, folks.
Like this article? If you want your Chiefs news delivered with an Examiner twist, simply hit the SUBSCRIBE button on this page. It’s FREE and you can cancel at any time. Feel free to share these articles if you like them. It will be appreciated by your Chiefs Examiner, who thinks the Chiefs might beat the Browns by 35 next week. Just sayin’ …
Need the services of a freelance copywriter and content writer with 18 years of successful work under his belt? Check me out at my other profession at Dan Rose Copywriting for any writing project that you want to get off your desk and into production