KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs had their backs to the end zone in the third quarter on Sunday, and the Houston Texans had first-and-goal with an opportunity to take the lead.
Three straight plays went nowhere and the Texans had to settle for a field goal.
It was a virtuoso display by the NFL’s stingiest defense, and a signature stand in a stellar second half.
The Chiefs kept repelling the Houston offense the rest of the way, and the result was a 17-16 victory to extend their perfect start.
“You know as well as I do you win with great defenses. That’s how it rolls,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.
Nor can you be successful without a guy like Jamaal Charles, who ran for 86 yards and a touchdown, or quarterback Alex Smith, who also had a TD run.
“It was a physical game,” Charles said, “the kind of a game this team needs to go far.”
The game was still in doubt even after the Chiefs’ goal-line stand. They had to punt with 1:46 left, but the Texans had no timeouts. Case Keenum threw an incompletion on first down, and then was stripped by Tamba Hali on the ensuing play.
Derrick Johnson recovered the ball for the Chiefs, who ran out the clock. The result was a 7-0 start for Kansas City, trailing only the 9-0 mark put up by the 2003 team for the best in franchise history.
In the Super Bowl era, 31 teams have started 7-0 and all qualified for the playoffs. Fifteen of those clubs reached the Super Bowl with nine winning it.
“It’s confidence,” said Hali, who was part of the Chiefs’ two-win team last season. “Guys believe in what we’re doing. They believe in one another, and that goes a long way.”
Keenum, making his first NFL start in place of the injured Matt Schaub, threw for 271 yards and a TD.
Chiefs 17, Titans 16
Hou – FG Bullock 48
KC – Charles 1 run (Succop kick)
Hou – Hopkins 29 pass from Keenum (Bullock kick)
KC – A.Smith 5 run (Succop kick)
Hou – FG Bullock 21
KC – FG Succop 22
Hou – FG Bullock 47
A – 74,118.
|Total Net Yards||294||357|
|Time of Poss.||27:48||32:12|
RUSHING – Houston, Tate 15-50, Foster 4-11, Keenum 3-10, G.Jones 2-2. Kansas City, Charles 21-86, A.Smith 6-28, Davis 2-5, McCluster 2-4, Gray 1-3.
PASSING – Houston, Keenum 15-25-0-271. Kansas City, A.Smith 23-34-1-240.
RECEIVING – Houston, Johnson 4-89, Hopkins 3-76, Graham 3-38, Jean 2-21, Tate 2-5, Posey 1-42. Kansas City, Bowe 5-66, McCluster 4-70, Fasano 4-27, Charles 3-37, Avery 3-33, Sherman 2-10, McGrath 1-1, A.Smith 1-(minus 4).
MISSED FIELD GOALS – None.