For the fifth time in their last six games, the Kansas City Chiefs were victorious, defeating the New York Jets 24-10 Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium.
We saw a few things on Sunday we already knew. Justin Houston is good at tackling quarterbacks behind the line of scrimmage, Alex Smith is an efficiency machine and De'Anthony Thomas is special with the ball in his hands.
Houston came into Sunday's game as the NFL's sack leader with 10, and he added two more to that total on Sunday to give him 12 for the season, just 10.5 shy of the NFL record set by Michael Strahan in 2001 (22.5).
"It's a group effort," Houston said. "I'm receiving all the credit, but I can't do it without everybody else. Tamba (Hali), (Allen) Bailey and (Dontari) Poe do a great job rushing, and we have great coverage down field."
Houston is consistently one of the last guys to leave the practice field every day for the Chiefs, staying after to go through his same routine on the bags.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid has praised Houston's leadership after the injuries they've had on the defensive side of the ball, and Houston continues to show why he's one of the elite defensive players in the NFL.
On the offensive side of the ball, quarterback Alex Smith has been on fire lately.
In his last seven games, Smith has 146 completions on 211 attempts (69.2 percent) for 1,490 yards with 10 touchdowns and one interception, good for a 103.0 passer rating.
Smith, who led the Chiefs offense to two touchdowns on their first two drives, said after the game that starting fast was important.
"It was really important especially when you're playing a team like [the Jets]," Smith said. "They've had their struggles; they had their bumps in the road. You give them any kind of momentum, you give them some help and then all of a sudden, that's a talented football team.
"I think it was important to jump on them early, start fast and if anything, you put a little doubt in their mind."
With the Chiefs holding a 14-0 lead late in the first half, the Jets scored a touchdown on a Michael Vick 3-yard pass to receiver Eric Decker, which cut the lead in half with 2:14 left to play in the first half.
That touchdown drive by the Jets offense, which went 15 plays for 81 yards in 12:51, gave the momentum back to the Jets late in the first half.
On the ensuing kickoff return, rookie De'Anthony Thomas took it from seven yards deep in the end zone 78 yards for the Chiefs, giving them great field position at the Jets 29-yard line.
Just four plays later, Smith hit tight end Travis Kelce for a 12-yard touchdown.
Coach Reid spoke about that turning point after the game.
"Well that's two weeks in a row that, I think, our return game has changed a little bit of the momentum," Reid said. "It put us in a position not only use the clock and knock out the rest of the second (quarter), or at least the majority of it, but also get point on the boards: a touchdown in that case."
One of the bigger storylines coming into the game was focused around the Jets defensive line, particularly the play of standouts Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson.
Those two had led a Jets defense that had 24 sacks in their first eight games of the season, which tied them with the Chiefs for fourth best in the NFL.
On Sunday, the Chiefs offensive line stood up to that Jets front seven, whom coach Reid had described as one of the best in the NFL, and allowed just one sack, which came late after the game had already been decided.
"Well their defensive line I think, if not the best, is one of the best in the National Football League," Reid said. "They've got explosive players. Our offensive line and the pass game did a pretty good job. I think with the two-gap stuff they were doing up front—worried about the run game, it took just a bit off of their play action pass rush. So that was a good thing."
After the game, center Rodney Hudson said this was one of the offensive line's best performances this season.
"It's definitely one of them," Hudson said. "There is always room for improvement. I think for the most part we did a good job protecting the quarterback. We're just going to keep working and try to get better in that area.
"[The Jets] have some good players in that front seven. They can rush the passer and play the run. They do a good job in those schemes, we just had to prepare well and come out and execute."
Offensively, the Chiefs did a great job in two important categories: third down conversion rate and red zone efficiency.
Coming into Sunday's game, the Chiefs ranked third in the NFL in third-down conversion rate at 50.5 percent. In red zone touchdown efficiency, the Chiefs came in ranked fourth at 69.6 percent.
Against the Jets, the Chiefs finished 8 of 13 (62 percent) on third down and scored touchdowns on 3 of 4 (75 percent) drives in the red zone.
Smith explained the reason for the success they've had on third down this season.
"It's first and second-down efficiency," Smith said. "It's staying ahead of the chains, staying ahead of schedule, putting ourselves in good third downs and then I kind of feel like we have to balance it. We've been able to these last few weeks. It's tough; kind of pick your poison."
Photos from the Chiefs week nine match up against the NY Jets
The biggest play of the game might have come from the Chiefs defense early in the fourth quarter.
Holding a 24-10 lead, the Chiefs defense was tasked with stopping the Jets, who had first-and-goal from the 3-yard line.
On first down, Jets running back Bilal Powell rushed the ball for no gain. On second down, quarterback Michael Vick fumbled the ball, then recovered it, but the play resulted in a loss of five yards. Eric Decker caught a 5-yard pass on third down to give the Jets a fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line.
The fourth down play, which was one of five on the day from the Jets, resulted in an incomplete pass after Vick scrambled out of the pocket and couldn't find anyone open.
"I was proud of our defense for bowing up there again when needed, particularly on those fourth down plays," Reid said after the game.
For the game, the Jets were 2 of 5 on fourth down and 4 of 12 on third down.
BOWE CROSSES 500 RECEPTION PLATEAU: WR Dwayne Bowe tied a season high with six receptions for 55 yards (9.2 avg.) in today's game. He now owns 503 career receptions, the second-most catches by a single player in franchise history. He joins TE Tony Gonzalez as the only other player in franchise history with 500 or more receptions. His 6,799 yards rank third in team history for most receiving yards.
KELCE FINDS ENDZONE: TE Travis Kelce caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from QB Alex Smith in the game, giving him four receiving touchdowns in 2014. He finished the day with four receptions for a team-high 67 yards (16.8 avg.) in the game. Kelce leads all Chiefs pass catchers in receptions (32), yards (419) and receiving touchdowns (4) in 2014.
POE PICKS UP SACK: Chiefs NT Dontari Poe generated his third sack of the season and now has 7.5 for his career, dropping QB Michael Vick for a sack of zero yards in the contest. Poe added four solo tackles and a quarterback pressure in the contest.
CHARLES FINDS ENDZONE: RB Jamaal Charles recorded 20 carries for 78 yards (3.9 avg.) with a 1-yard touchdown run in the contest, giving him five touchdown rushes this season and seven overall touchdowns for 2014. It marks Charles' third-straight game with at least one rushing touchdown.
Dating back to the start of the 2013 season, Charles has recorded 26 total touchdowns, more than any other player in the NFL. SANTOS CONTINUES STREAK:K Cairo Santos converted a 19-yard field in the game, giving him nine consecutive field goals made, to push his season total to 11 of 13 (84.6%). He also converted three PATs in the contest for six total points. Santos has a team-high 56 points.