After weeks of being unable to beat man coverage, the Chiefs did just that on an early third-and-6 play by way of a Darrel Williams rub route, which he took to the field for 52 yards. Texans head coach Bill O’Brien challenged for pass interference, and as has come to be expected these days in the NFL, referees upheld the original call on the replay.
The Chiefs’ fourth penalty on their initial drive backed them up to third-and-21 at the Houston 46. Patrick Mahomes’ cadence forced the Texans offside, and with a free play, he chucked it to the end zone, where Tyreek Hill — playing for the first time since Week 1 — high-pointed the football over two defenders for a 7-0 lead.
Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark forced Texans running back and former Chief Carlos Hyde to fumble on the next possession, and Clark’s recovery led to a 41-yard field goal. The Texans responded with a field goal of their own.
Kansas City added to its lead when running back Damien Williams took a short screen 14 yards for his second touchdown of the season. The Chiefs led 17-3 after one quarter.
Hyde made up for his blunder on the Texans’ next drive with five rushes for 36 yards, an effort that pushed Houston to the Chiefs’ doorstep. Running back Duke Johnson and he took a short pass 11 yards to make it 17-9. Texans kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn missed the extra point.
Mahomes appeared to re-aggravate his ankle again when he was taken down early in the second quarter. Safety Tashaun Gipson intercepted Mahomes deep in the left side of the end zone shortly thereafter. Referees originally called a defensive penalty but later picked up the flag, thereby confirming the turnover.
After converting a fourth-and-1 on their next possession, the Texans cut the lead to 17-16 with a 2-yard touchdown by Hyde. Harrison Butker missed a 50-yard field goal, giving the Texans the ball at their own 40. The Texans pushed the ball to the Kansas City 40, but safety Juan Thornhill recorded his first career interception in the end zone to give the Chiefs the ball back.
The Chiefs wouldn’t keep the ball for long. On the next play, Texans defensive end Charles Omenihu came around the edge and forced Mahomes to fumble, and the Texans recovered at the Kansas City 3-yard line. Deshaun Watson scrambled three yards for the touchdown — and a 23-17 lead — heading into halftime.
Fairbairn missed a 46-yard field goal to end the Texans’ first drive of the third quarter. The Chiefs offense started at their own 36, and a 16-yard pass to Travis Kelce and 10-yard pass to Mecole Hardman helped push the Chiefs to the Houston 6-yard line. On third down, the Texans left Hill wide open shallow right in the end zone, and Mahomes found him for their second touchdown connection of the day — and a one-point Chiefs lead.
The Texans would have had a touchdown on their next drive if it weren’t for a rare drop by DeAndre Hopkins. A play later, Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward picked a off ball in the end zone.
The Chiefs could not take advantage of a potential momentum swing and had to punt it back to the Texans. Watson conducted a 12-play, 93-yard drive in which the Texans never saw a third down. Watson beat a diving Frank Clark for a 1-yard touchdown. After a two-point conversion, the Texans led 31-24 with less than seven minutes in the fourth quarter.
The Chiefs went three-and-out and punted the ball back to the Texans. Faced with fourth down with the clock ticking away, Watson found Hopkins for an 8-yard gain to seal the game.
Stats of note
Patrick Mahomes was 19 of 35, 273 yards, three touchdowns an interception for a passer rating of 96.5. Mahomes also had one fumble. Deshaun Watson was 30 of 42 for 280 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. His passer rating for the game was 77.5.
Tyreek Hill led Chiefs receivers with five catches for 80 yards and two touchdowns. For the Texans, Darren Fella had six for 69 yards.
LeSean McCoy led Chiefs rushers with eight carries for 44 yards, good for 5.5 yards per carry. Carlos Hyde had 26 for 116, averaging 4.2 yards per attempt.
The Chiefs have so many problems right now — and nearly all of them reared their ugly head on Sunday against the Texans. To start: Chris Jones — their best defensive player — and Sammy Watkins were not available. Their replacements just don’t make the same impact.
The run defense remained atrocious, as Carlos Hyde ran for 116 yards and a touchdown against his old team. The tackling was bad. Deshaun Watson hardly felt any pressure. Moving Frank Clark to the left side of the line made no difference.
The Chiefs take entirely too many penalties. The Chiefs were fortunate to have Tyreek Hill back in the lineup, because without him, they likely would have been blown out.