On the ground and through the air, the offensive game plan worked perfectly for the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.
Led by running back Spencer Ware, the Chiefs ran the ball a whopping 40 times and averaged 4.6 yards per carry, and through the air, quarterback Alex Smith completed a franchise-best 86.36 percent of his passes, averaging 10.18 yards per attempt in the process, which is also the sixth-highest output for Smith in 131 career regular season games.
So not only was Smith efficient with where he threw the football, the offense was also picking up chunks of yards when he was tossing it around.
"I thought we had a great mix today, keeping the defense on their heels," Smith explained after the Chiefs 26-10 win over the Raiders.
Smith explained that there may not have been a more frustrated player over the past few weeks because of the offense's up-and-down performances than Ware, who had a couple of fumbles in the Chiefs road losses to the Houston Texans and Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this season.
On Sunday, Ware had 163 yards of total offense and currently ranks sixth in the NFL with 646 total yards from scrimmage this season.
"The guy cares so much about his teammates, about this team, about holding up his end," Smith explained. "Everybody sees it. The thing that was most encouraging today was the way he ran – never tip-toeing, not passive, even when it was wet and rainy.
"To put (the fumbles) behind him and move on and run really, really hard and physical today, is one of the reasons we won."
In the most difficult of circumstances when it comes to ball security, Ware handled the sloppy field handily and showed the typical aggression and physicality we've come to expect from the 24-year-old bruising running back, and he was helped by an offensive line that was completed healthy for the first time since the Week 1 game against the San Diego Chargers.
"I think the offensive line kind of set the tone from the jump, kind of dominated up front a little bit," veteran receiver Jeremy Maclin explained. "We were able to kind of old-school football, ground and pound a little bit. Spencer ran the ball well. Jamaal (Charles) ran the ball well. (Charcandrick) West came in and ran the ball well as well.
"It all starts up front."
The Chiefs showed a commitment to physical football by the fact that fullback Anthony Sherman, who had played 10 offensive snaps in two separate games earlier this season (Texans, Jets), had 19 snaps on offense and consistently paved the way for Ware, Charles and West.
Overall, the offense's performance and execution wasn't necessarily them doing a whole lot of different things, but of limiting the mistakes.
"I've mentioned this before that we've been kind of shooting ourselves in the foot," Chiefs coach Andy Reid explained of Sunday's performance being different. "If we ever get those things straightened out we have a better chance of doing OK. You can't have the penalties and things that we've had before and the turnovers, all those things are real in this league. It was important that I put the guys in the right position so they can have some success and they do those things that they need to do as players.
"I thought collectively that everyone did a good job. I thought [co-offensive coordinators] Matt Nagy and Brad Childress had a tremendous game offensively."
In a game full of standout offensive performances, one of the more under-the-radar moves and plays that shouldn't get lost in the shuffle was the key third-down reception early in the game from third-year receiver De'Anthony Thomas, who was active for the first time this season on Sunday.
With the Chiefs trailing 7-0 late in the first quarter and with most of the momentum on the side of the Raiders at that point, Thomas' name was called on a crucial third-and-8 reception early in the game from the Raiders 23-yard line.
Thomas was lined up in the slot and ran an out route right at the first-down line. He was able to secure the catch as he fell to the ground and rather than a field goal attempt, the Chiefs were able to continue that drive, which culminated with a 2-yard touchdown run from Ware.
"He was working hard and I'm sure he's frustrated, but he's been working hard and came in and had a little package and did a great job with it," Smith explained of Thomas after the game. "He did a great job with it when his number was called.
"I think we had nine guys catch balls today, so anytime you're spreading the ball around like that, you're making it hard on a defense to zero in on what you're doing."
Seven of those nine guys caught multiple passes, and with Charles getting back into the mix with 11 touches for 47 yards and a touchdown, the arrow is only pointing up for this offense and the running backs group particularly, which, as a group, finished with 40 total touches for 229 yards and two touchdowns.
"It was a little taste as we get going here, to have that kind of depth at the running back position to keep each other fresh and come in and spell each other," Smith added. "They all have different strengths and feed off each other.
"That's what you can get to, those guys feeding off each other and making the most of their opportunities."