During the past two games at Arrowhead Stadium, the Kansas City Chiefs have outscored their opponents by a combined score of 75 to 21, including their 34-7 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.
With the victory, the Chiefs (4-3) moved over .500 for the first time this season.
But the final score isn't at all representative of what the first four minutes of this game looked like.
On the opening drive, the Rams took the ball 65 yards in six plays and capped by a 1-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Austin Davis to tight end Lance Kendricks, the Chiefs found themselves trailing 7-0 just over three minutes into the game.
"I thought after the first drive they put together we settled down defensively and played pretty good," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "Offensively, I thought we started out sloppy and then picked it up as it went. The offensive line settled in and Jamaal (Charles) did a good job."
The Rams wouldn't score again as the Chiefs responded with 34 unanswered points.
Offensively, this game was really a tale of two halves for the Chiefs.
In the first half, the Chiefs ran the ball 12 times for just 14 yards, but responded in the second half by rushing the ball 22 times for 129 yards.
"I think they had a great run defense that flies to the ball fast," running back Jamaal Charles said. "They have a great defensive line as well, so we knew we were going to have to find a way to get in the groove of our running game. I think our lineman did a great job of finding our way in the second half."
Charles finished the game with 13 carries for 73 yards and two touchdowns, adding four catches for 44 yards receiving as well. His 36-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter is a season-long.
Alex Smith went 14 of 15 for 111 yards in the first half, routinely spreading the ball around to different receivers to help move the ball as the running game struggled to get it going.
On the day, Smith completed three or more passes to five different players.
"[Alex] does a good job with it," Reid said of so many guys getting involved in the receiving game. "The more people you can spread it to the more pressure it puts on the defense."
After the game, Smith gave a lot of credit to the Chiefs defense, which really changed the complexity of the game with their stop of the Rams offense midway through the second quarter.
After Charles fumbled the ball deep in enemy territory, the Rams had first-and-goal from the 8-yard line.
But the Chiefs defense was ready to stand tall with their backs against the wall.
They stuffed Rams running back Tre Mason for just a 1-yard gain on first down. Then, on second down, Davis tried scrambling and was tackled after just a 1-yard gain.
But on third down, safety Ron Parker, who already had an interception earlier in the first quarter, made another big play for the Chiefs defense, sacking Davis for a loss of 14 yards.
This set up a field goal attempt of 38 yards by Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein, which was missed wide right.
"To give up a turnover on our own end and come back with even better field position with the same score is a rarity," Smith said. "To have a defense play like that is special. Those guys really dominated and set the tone."
Parker explained what happened on that play.
"I wasn't even coming on a blitz," Parker said. "I was sitting back in coverage and I kind of saw [Davis] just standing out there like he had nobody to throw to. I was like, 'Well, let me go get it.' So I just played football and went and got it."
Reid agreed about how well the defense played.
"I thought our defense played great," Reid said. "They put pressure on them consistently and then Justin [Houston] came up with three sacks. I thought the whole front played very aggressive.
"[Defensive Coordinator] Bob (Sutton) called a hell of a game, getting people in and out of there."
The Chiefs held the Rams to just 200 yards of total offense, including just 3 of 11 on third down.
With his three sacks on the day, Houston now has 10 sacks on the season, which leads the NFL.
But after the game, Houston was quick to give much of the credit to his teammates.
"It's more of a team effort," Houston said of his three sacks. "Like, today our DBs did a great job covering – between the DBs and linebackers, they gave us plenty of time to put pressure on the quarterback. Anytime you make the quarterback hold the ball, the front four can get pressure."
Including Houston's three, the Chiefs defense had seven sacks on the day. Jaye Howard, Dee Ford and Vance Walker each had a half sack, while Parker had one and Allen Bailey finished with 1.5 sacks.
Perhaps the biggest play in the game was the opening kickoff of the second half, which Knile Davis returned 99 yards for a touchdown, giving the Chiefs a 17-7 lead and beginning a dominant second half.
"The return by special teams to start the second half was a big momentum shifter which helped us out tremendously," Reid said.
Reid went even further after the game to explain what makes Davis special as a kick returner.
Photos from the Chiefs week eight win against the St Louis Rams
"He's big, strong and fast," Reid explained. "He hits it; you have to have someone back there like that. You can't have someone [as a kick returner] who is going to dance around. They have to see the hole and go get it and [Davis] is wired that way."
Smith said you could feel a change after Davis' return.
"It's such a momentum thing," Smith said of Davis' touchdown. "When special teams can come out and make a play like that to start the second half, you can just feel the momentum change in that game.
"Coming into halftime it's still close and to come out and get a play like that on our special team just completely changes momentum in the game and really it felt like we just started a snowball."
Another momentum change came at the end of the first half, when the Chiefs offense walked away with a field goal after going 37 yards on 10 plays, eating up more than five minutes off the clock with the game tied 7-7.
After a sack of Smith by Rams defensive end Robert Quinn on third-and-13, the Chiefs were forced into a 53-yard field goal attempt by rookie Cairo Santos with just seven seconds left in the first half.
Santos explained what happened after he made contact with the ball.
"The crowd let me know because I couldn't really tell how far it was going to go," Santos explained. "As soon as it came off my foot they started cheering, so I thought 'Okay, it must be enough,' then I saw it hit the net and I figured I hit it well."
Santos nailed the 53-yard field goal and gave the Chiefs the 10-7 lead going into halftime, which at the time was a huge momentum swing.
Santos has made eight consecutive field goals.
SMITH SETS EFFICIENCY RECORD WITH THE BALL IN HIS HAND: QB Alex Smith completed 24 of 28 passes (85.7 percent) for 226 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions, good for a 100.3 passer rating. His 85.7 percent completion percentage ranks as top mark in franchise history, topping his previous mark of 85.0 percent set on 17 of 20 passes at Oakland on Dec. 15, 2013. He completed a stretch of 10 consecutive passes in the game.
RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS ALLOWED: Through Week 8 of the 2014 season, the Chiefs are the only team in the NFL to not allow a rushing touchdown on defense.
TEAM HITS A SEASON-HIGH FOR SACKS: The Chiefs defense finished the day with 7.0 sacks (-44.0 yards), marking the 54th time in franchise history the club has recorded 6.0 or more sacks and the first such game since recording 6.0 sacks at Washington on Dec. 8, 2013. Kansas City owns a 48-5-1 record (.898) when recording 6.0 or more sacks and have outscored its opponents 1,185 to 651 in those contests.
TOTAL YARDS: The Chiefs gained 361 yards on offensive and limited the Rams to 200 yards of total offense. The 200 yards allowed marks the fewest yards surrendered by the Chiefs defense in 2014.
CHARLES FINDS ENDZONE: RB Jamaal Charles recorded rushing touchdowns of one yard and 36 yards in the contest, giving him four touchdown rushes this season and six overall touchdowns for 2014. His 36-yard rushing touchdown marks his longest carry of the 2014 season.
Dating back to the start of the 2013 season, Charles has recorded 25 total touchdowns, more than any other player in the NFL.
OFFENSIVE TOUCHDOWNS, 2013-PRESENT
|1.||25||Jamaal Charles||Kansas City|
|5.||19||Jimmy Graham||New Orleans (play on Monday Night Football|