The Chiefs' usually cautious offense, which hadn't turned the ball over in the first three games, gave the ball away three times Sunday against the Giants at Arrowhead Stadium.
Of course, thanks to a dominant defense and Dexter McCluster's punt return touchdown, the crowd of 73,386 watched the undefeated Chiefs steamroll to a 31-7 win anyway.
"From last year to now, it's a big turnaround," said tackle Donald Stephenson, a Blue Springs graduate who stepped in when No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher suffered a concussion in the first half. "It feels good and, if anybody deserves to be 4-0 right now, it's the Chiefs for all the stuff we went through last year."
Chiefs Top Giants 31-7, Move To 4-0 In 2013 from The Mothership
The Giants took over and later faced a 3rd and 17, when Manning found Victor Cruz for 17 yards and a ruled first down, until the Chiefs challenged the spot of the ball and won. New York punted to Chiefs WR
Dexter McCluster, who got some great blocks and made all kinds of Giants miss, before returning the punt 89 yards for the score, causing Arrowhead to erupt.
For now, the Chiefs are exciting again. They are promising again. They are worthy of a large and dedicated fan base again, and through four games, it's largely because of moments like McCluster's - a blurry 15 seconds of catching a punt, making seven guys miss, and dancing in the end zone - that turned Arrowhead back into the loudest stadium in the NFL.
"I don't even remember spinning, honestly," he says. "I just remember catching the ball, then making a couple guys miss, then seeing the end zone. I've been told it was pretty sweet."
You have to be of a certain age to remember when the Chiefs used to win games like this all the time. They would batter the opposing quarterback, beat him into the ground, and put the people at Arrowhead into such a frenzy the players on the field couldn't hear a shout from two feet away.
Fans here have always screamed the loudest for dominating defenses like the Chiefs have this year, or moments on special teams like McCluster's.
Even after the 31-7 straitjacketing of the New York Giants on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, the Chiefs' offense has generated 81 points ... five fewer than it had put up through four games a year ago, when you account for two defensive touchdowns and a special teams TD.
But this isn't about a defense carrying an offense.
Because it's more intricate and sophisticated than that.
Two years removed from winning their fourth Super Bowl championship, the Giants are a mess.
Not a "Hey, this team is .500 and shows some issues," mess, but a flaming, gyrating, head-coach-could-get-fired-soon conflagration.
The Chiefs did their part to fan those flames on Sunday, running away with a 31-7 victory at Arrowhead Stadium that dropped the Giants to 0-4.
How good is the Chiefs' defense?
Based on points per game, these Chiefs are historically good. The 41 points allowed through four games is the fewest in franchise history, breaking the mark set in 1967 (43). For comparison's sake, last season, the Chiefs allowed 136 points in the first four games - a record for the most allowed in franchise history - while two years ago Buffalo scored 41 in a season-opening win at Arrowhead Stadium alone. Additionally, the Chiefs have 12 takeaways after registering only 13 total last season and own an NFL-best 18 sacks.
Chiefs Report Card Vs. Giants from KC Star
The Chiefs bottled up the run and forced Eli Manning to stand in against their strong rush and beat them through the air. That's a sound strategy, as is their insistence on playing to Smith's strengths with short throws and lots of quick reads. Coach Andy Reid also gets bonus points for challenging a bad spot on a crucial third-down conversion by the Giants, which was overturned and promptly followed by McCluster's game-breaking punt return.
Alex Smith Press Conference Transcript from The Mothership
This game went differently from an offensive management standpoint. Can you talk about this?
"Yeah, I mean, you'd like to never have turnovers, but it's part of the game. They were a good defense, a good football team and they made some nice plays. I think they're correctable mistakes, which I think is a good thing. The other thing was team effort. I think our defense played lights-out and special teams gave us some momentum. Then, three weeks in a row now, in the fourth quarter, end of the fourth quarter, with a chance to put the game out of reach, the offense has stepped up and got the job done, especially the guys up-front. Once again, I think we're taking the game over."
"I found myself sitting open right in the back of the end zone there and as Coach (Andy) Reid would say, (Alex) dotted me with the ball," McGrath said. "I saw it come in and all I was thinking was just catch it, catch it, catch it.
"(I've come) a long way; it's been a long time (coming), boy, a long time."
McGrath, a 6-foot-5, 247-pounder who spent most of last season on Seattle's practice squad, was picked up by the Chiefs right before the season. He made his second career start on Sunday and has caught 11 of the 13 passes thrown his way in an effort to establish himself as a reliable target while starter Anthony Fasano and third-round rookie Travis Kelce sit due to injuries.
For more than half of Sunday's victory against the Giants, the Chiefs played without two starting offensive linemen, but the backups - Geoff Schwartz and Donald Stephenson - barely missed a beat.
"Guys have risen to the occasion when they're called upon," Schwartz said.
And Sunday was no different.
Cooper earned his first career start as the Chiefs opened with extra defensive backs on the field. But once veteran Dunta Robinson, the Chiefs' slot corner to this point, got burned at one of the outside positions by Giants star Victor Cruz for a 69-yard touchdown in the second quarter, the Chiefs' coaching staff decided to pair Cooper on the outside with starter Sean Smith almost exclusively.
Let's just say it turned out pretty well for Cooper, a 6-foot-2, 192-pound rookie from Rutgers. He received the most extended action of his four-game career against a star-studded receiving corps featuring Cruz and Hakeem Nicks and finished with a tackle and two pass deflections.
New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz broke into his patented salsa dance after his 69-yard score on Sunday, and Chiefs receivers Dwayne Bowe and Dexter McCluster didn't forget it.
McCluster punctuated his 89-yard punt return with the dance, while Bowe did the same after his 34-yard touchdown catch.
"I could care less," Cruz said when asked about Bowe and McCluster's dances. "Next question."
Bowe, however, said he was just having a little fun.
KCChiefs.com Photo Gallery: Chiefs vs Giants Photo Gallery
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NFL.com Video: WK 4 Can't-Miss Play: McCluster Making Moves
Your unsung heroes: Two seventh-round draft picks and an undrafted, second-year free agent out of Arkadelphia, Ark.
That's right. Arkadelphia, Ark.
"Yes, sir," said Sean McGrath, the bearded, man-mountain of a Kansas City Chiefs tight end, grinning after a 31-7 tap dance all over the face of the New York Giants. "Wherever you are out there, they're going to find you."
Jamaal Charles Leads Kansas City Chiefs To 4-0 Start from NFL.com
Although Alex Smith tossed his first two interceptions of the season, Reid's club stuck to its formula of a ball-control passing game, a pressuring defense and Jamaal Charlesplaying keep-away in the fourth quarter.
Keeping pace with Reggie Bush as unlikely tailback MVP candidates behind Peyton Manning, Charles totaled 127 yards on 23 touches. For the third consecutive game, Charles effectively salted the game away with an unstoppable clock-killing, fourth-quarter drive.
Flanny: Another Way Chiefs Can Beat You? Special Teams from FS Kansas City
It was the type of exhilarating return Chiefs fans saw repeatedly during the preseason, where fans got their first glimpse of the magic of Toub, whose special teams in Chicago returned 22 punts or kicks for scores from 2004-2012.
"When we needed Dex, he came through," wide receiver Dwayne Bowe said. "We were just talking on the sideline, 'Hey, Dex, get us one, man.' And he did.
"He's like a human joystick part 2. We were actually on the sideline moving with him as he was juking and making defenders miss. He's a heck of a player."
Recap: Reid's Unbeaten Chiefs Top Giants 31-7 from The Associated Press via FS Kansas City
Eric Berry credits Kansas City's 4-0 start to the "family feeling" that held everyone together during the hapless 2-14 season of 2012.
Maybe so. But after the Chiefs (4-0) pounded the winless New York Giants 31-7 on Sunday, it's obvious that importing a cool, savvy quarterback from San Francisco and bringing in a smart, no-nonsense coach from Philadelphia also had a lot to do with a rags-to-riches transformation.
Even in a league known for quick turnarounds and breathtaking free-falls, this seems preposterous.
The Kansas City Chiefs have shown remarkable patience with receiver Dexter McCluster for reasons that were not fully revealed until Sunday. Up to this point, McCluster had been a diminutive underachiever, a tiny bundle of unfulfilled potential.
Turns out his 5-foot-8, 170-pound frame can carry some serious weight. He hoisted the otherwise sluggish Chiefs, battling in a close game with the winless New York Giants, onto his shoulders and delivered them to a 31-7 victory at Arrowhead Stadium. His 89-yard punt return late in the third quarter broke the game open.
Giants Chiefs Review: KC Still Perfect from Warpaint Illustrated
Think about it. Your football team is 4-0 and they're still a work in progress. The Chiefs have yet to put together a flawless four quarters of play on offense. In fact, based on their struggles on that side of the ball until the fourth quarter, they haven't been able to string solid back-to-back quarters yet this season.
But who cares.
Chiefs Deflate Giant's Momentum, Sending Them To Another Loss from The New York Times
The pivotal turnaround play that Tuck had wondered about came next, when Kansas City's Dexter McCluster caught Steve Weatherford's punt at his own 11 and began a spinning, zigzag return, eluding several Giants who dived at his feet as he ran up the middle.
When McCluster was in the end zone 89 yards later, the air had gone out of the Giants' spirited attempt at a first victory in the 2013 season. What followed was a downward spiral throughout the fourth quarter and a 31-7 victory for the 4-0 Chiefs.
Chiefs Finish September With Perfect Mark from ProFootballTalk
After another Giants punt, the Chiefs put the game way with a 14-play, 80 yard drive taking more than nine minutes and ending in a Jamaal Charles two-yard TD catch. The drive was extended when the Giants committed a penalty on field goal, giving the Chiefs a first down.
Locker Room Buzz: Kansas City Chiefs from ESPN
Pro Bowl punter Dustin Colquitt injured his knee in the first quarter when the Giants deflected one of his kicks. The situation appeared ominous when Ryan Succop, the kicker, began practicing punts into a net along the sideline while Colquitt received medical attention. The Chiefs would have missed Colquitt's deft touch inside the 20.
"Mild" Concussion For Eric Fisher from ProFootballTalk
While the term "mild" concussion tends to understate the severity of brain injuries, concussions have degrees. And in the case of Chiefs right tackle Eric Fisher, his concussion is, per a league source, mild.
5 Things To Know From Chiefs 31-7 Rout Of Giants from The Associated Press via The News & Observer
Their resounding 31-7 rout of the winless New York Giants on Sunday proved just how far Kansas City has come from a 2-14 finish a year ago.
Alex Smith was savvy and efficient at quarterback. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe made the kind of big plays befitting his big new contract. Dexter McCluster returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown. And a hard-hitting defense allowed just one long touchdown reception.
"There are a lot of things that I don't know, but I do know this: We're a tough bunch and we'll keep battling," said Reid, whose team joined the 1980 Detroit Lions as the only ones in modern NFL history to win their first four games after two or fewer wins the previous season.
Eli Manning And NY Giants Offense Fall Flat Against Chiefs In 31-7 Loss from The NY Daily News
There was fight. There was passion. There was even a salsa.
But there still wasn't a win.
The Big Blue nightmare will continue for another week. Despite what certainly seemed like their best effort, the Giants fell to a stunning 0-4 on Sunday afternoon, losing to the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-7, at Arrowhead Stadium - a game that ended with Victor Cruz questioning Tom Coughlin's decision to punt on a game-turning play in the third quarter.
Arrowhead Stadium Gets a Little Louder On Sunday from FOX4KC
Sunday morning, thousands of Chiefs fans filled the parking lots of Arrowhead Stadium to cheer on the red, white and golf against Eli Manning and the New York Giants.
Normally dancing, grilling, games and socializing are all on the agenda for football Sunday, except this time Kansas City fans were basking in the winning success of the home team. Inside the stadium the volume was turned up a couple of notches.
Chiefs-Giants: What We Learned from Lindy's Sports
The Chiefs are 4-0 and they have done it without really getting their running game in gear. Against the Giants, they ran for 102 yards on 28 carries. What they've been able to do is get yards in the fourth quarter to protect leads. They had 48 yards in the first three quarters, but then ran for 54 yards in the fourth quarter. Running back Jamaal Charles continues to make his mark as a receiver, catching five passes for 62 yards and a touchdown against New York.
Then came the booming punt right to McCluster in his sweet spot. He spun off one tackler and juked another. The Giants in punt coverage began dropping like hunted ducks. They looked eager to get out of his way.
And then McCluster mimicked Victor Cruz's signature touchdown dance once he got to the end zone, putting the Chiefs up by 10. Because that's what the Giants have become - something to poke fun at.
Victor Cruz Second Guesses Tom Coughlin As 0-4 Giants Coming Unglued from The NY Daily News
Can he get fired if the Giants finish 4-12? After he won two Super Bowls, the Giants will never announce they have fired Coughlin. He deserves much better. But I think it's possible they will encourage him to retire at the end of the season if they feel the team has quit on him or that a two-year rebuilding project requires a younger coach.
So far, the locker room has not turned on Coughlin.
"If anyone turns on our coach, I would be the first one to punch him in the mouth," Justin Tuck told the Daily News. "And put that in print. It better not happen, I know that."
Jake Locker Injury Overshadows Titans' Rout Of Jets from USA Today
The Titans head into a very difficult stretch of their schedule with games against the Kansas City Chiefs (4-0), Seattle Seahawks (4-0) and San Francisco 49ers (2-2) before the bye. Yet the defense is playing with swagger, and the offense looks more potent and opportunistic compared to a year ago.
Plenty could change without Locker, of course.
Steelers And Giants Fall To 0-4, Leaving Serious Questions For Each Team from Sports Illustrated
Tom Coughlin's team was shredded 31-7 by the now 4-0 Kansas City Chiefs. Many wondered how New York's weak offensive line would deal with the Chiefs' aggressive defense, and the answer was ... not very well. Eli Manning was sacked three times, taking his 2013 total to 14, and he was harassed by the Chiefs throughout the game. Outside of the 69-yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz in the second quarter that provided the team's only score, Manning managed just 148 passing yards on 36 other attempts.
Sunday Wrap: Bucs, QB In Staredown from FOX News
THE LOOK IN DEXTER'S EYES
No, not the serial killer. The Kansas City Chiefs' running back/wide receiver/punt returner/do-everything guy.
Andy Reid noticed it as soon as he arrived in Kansas City.
"When he first came here, we sat down and he said, 'You still have that look you had when I met you at the combine.' He really wanted me to be a big part of his offense and I'm ready for the challenge,'" McCluster said by phone a few hours after the Chiefs' 31-7 thrashing of the New York Giants. "I love Big Red. He's a great coach."
NFL Week 4 Studs And Duds from ESPN
Dexter McCluster, Kansas City Chiefs punt returner: The Chiefs were clinging to a three-point lead over the New York Giants when McCluster fielded a third-quarter punt at his 11-yard line. By my count, the Giants had six chances to tackle him en route to an 89-yard touchdown return. The score pushed the Chiefs' advantage to 10 points in an eventual 31-7 victory. And in an indication of how far the Giants have fallen, McCluster mocked receiver Victor Cruz's salsa dance when he reached the end zone. The Chiefs are 4-0 with different heroes every week. Sunday, McCluster provided the biggest play of the game.
Giants Still Winless After Rancid Offensive Showing from The NY Post
This loss falls squarely on an offense directed by Manning that really cannot get anything accomplished. Three times, the Giants defense took the ball away from a Chiefs offense that did not turn the ball over even once in its first three games. Those three sparks turned into one dud after another, as Eli and Co. went three-and-out each time, adding to what was a 1-of-14 showing on third down - 0-of-8 in the second half.
"Offensively, not being able to do anything, it's just bad,'' Manning said.