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Chiefs vs. Texans: 10 Observations

Posted Oct 9, 2017

Here’s what stood out Sunday night against the Texans

The Kansas City Chiefs moved to 5-0 on the season Sunday night with their 42-34 victory over the Houston Texans.

It’s the ninth-straight road victory for the Chiefs, who have now won 27 of their last 31 regular-season games.

Here are 10 observations from the game:

1. The Chiefs answered back…like good teams do

The Texans put up a fight as rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson kept them in the game with three fourth-quarter touchdowns, but the Chiefs responded like good teams do.

After Watson found the speedy Will Fuller deep down the field for a 48-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, which brought the game to within one possession, the Chiefs responded with a six-play, 70-yard drive that culminated with a De’Anthony Thomas 10-yard touchdown reception.

Then, after the Chiefs’ defense forced a three-and-out, they were given another opportunity to respond in the return game.

And they did.

2. Tyreek Hill did what Tyreek Hill does

Earlier in the week, Chiefs’ special team’s coordinator Dave Toub said they were going to have some opportunities in the punt return game this week, and All-Pro returner Tyreek Hill got an opportunity midway through the fourth quarter.

Hill made the Texans pay for kicking him the ball. He went 82 yards around the right side to break the game open and give the Chiefs a 39-20 lead with less than seven minutes remaining in the game.

On his 15 career touchdowns, Hill is now averaging a ridiculous 47.8 yards per play, according to Randall Liu of NFL Communications.

3. Alex Smith and the Chiefs’ offense shined

The Chiefs came out and took care of business offensively early as they scored on all five of their first-half possessions, while Alex Smith went 18 of 24 for 207 yards and two touchdowns. He finished the game 29 of 37 for 324 yards with three touchdowns.

Maybe what was most impressive in the first half was Smith’s efficiency on third down, leading the offense to convert 7 of 10 third downs in the first 30 minutes of the game, and three of those were on third-and-11 or longer.

Smith’s two first-half touchdowns gave him 10 for the season. His 10th touchdown pass last year didn’t come until Week 12 against the Broncos.

Smith’s MVP candidacy went up another level after Sunday’s performance.

4. Charcandrick West had a first half to remember

West, the fourth-year running back out of Abilene Christian, only had two catches for 12 yards in the first half of Sunday night’s game, but he made both of them count as he found the end zone on each of them. West had just three receiving touchdowns in his career before Sunday’s game.

On the first touchdown, West showed an ability to catch a contested pass with Smith rolling outside of the pocket on a broken play in the red zone.

And on the second, West showed some nice open-field moves.

And not to be outdone by either of those touchdowns, West had a fantastic blitz pickup as well—coming across the formation to make the play.

5. The Chiefs defense gets a key takeaway in the first half

With the Chiefs already leading 13-0 with about five minutes left in the first half, second-year Chiefs’ defensive lineman Chris Jones stripped the ball out of the hands of Texans’ rookie running back D’Onta Foreman, and it was picked up by veteran linebacker and Texas native, Derrick Johnson.

It was the third forced fumble of the year for Jones, which now has him tied for the league-lead in that category.

The Chiefs were able to get a field goal out of the great field position and took a 16-0 lead late in the first half.

6. Injuries piled up for both teams Sunday night

On the Chiefs’ first offensive drive, the Texans lost two of their best defensive players in linebacker Whitney Mercilus and defensive lineman J.J. Watt.

Mercilus left with a chest injury, and Watt left with a knee injury.

Both players were quickly ruled out for the rest of the game.

For the Chiefs, receiver Chris Conley suffered what Reid said after the game is most-likely a ruptured Achilles on the onside kick attempt late in the game. Conley had three catches for 46 yards on the night.

Reid provided an update on all of the injured players following the game.

7. Cam Erving got the start at right guard

For the first time this season, the newly-acquired Cam Erving got the start for the Chiefs along the offensive line. Erving got the nod at right guard as Laurent Duvernay-Tardif missed the game with a knee injury.

Erving came over in a trade with the Cleveland Browns before the Chiefs’ final preseason game. He was a first-round pick (No. 19 overall) of the Browns in 2015.

8. Reggie Ragland showed some nice closing speed

On a Watson second-down pass attempt early in the second quarter, Chiefs’ linebacker Reggie Ragland read the play-action and went off like a missile towards Watson, who was rolling outside of the pocket.

Watson threw it away to avoid the sack.

It was a great display of speed and awareness from the newly-acquired linebacker, who came over from the Buffalo Bills in a trade before the fourth and final preseason game.

Ragland missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury suffered in training camp, and plays like the one early in the second quarter where he accelerated downhill to make a play make it look like he’s close to being back to the player who won the SEC Defensive Player of the Year award in 2015—the same year Alabama won a national championship.

9. Ross Travis makes some plays for the Chiefs’ offense

Coming into the game, tight end Ross Travis had just two targets on the year and three receptions for 15 yards in his career, but he made a few plays for the Chiefs Sunday night in some big situations.

Travis finished with two receptions for 26 yards, and it was his 18-yard reception early in the fourth quarter that was part of a huge response from the Chiefs’ offense after Watson and the Texans brought it to within one possession on the Fuller touchdown.

It was particularly important for Travis to make plays as Travis Kelce didn’t play at all in the second half after he left the game after being evaluated for a concussion.

Before he left the game, Kelce also caught eight passes for 98 yards—all of which came in the first half. Four of the eight receptions Kelce had were for third-down conversions.

10. Harrison Butker went a perfect 5 of 5 on field goal attempts

It’s been quite the introduction to the Chiefs for new kicker Harrison Butker, who hit the game-winner last week against the Redskins, and then went 5 for 5 against the Texans on Sunday night.

Butker hit from 35, 42, 41, 35, and 49 yards to help the Chiefs get the 42-34 victory.

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