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3 things we learned about the Chiefs

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HOUSTON — Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith nodded approvingly when asked to recount the early rhythm he helped establish offensively, a task made easier when the Chiefs twice were gifted excellent field position.

Smith passed for 243 yards and three touchdowns and Kansas City took immediate advantage of two critical Houston turnovers in its 27-20 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday at NRG Stadium.

The Chiefs (1-0) converted both turnovers inside the Houston 15-yard line into touchdowns, including an interception by rookie cornerback Marcus Peters on the Texans’ first offensive snap. With 5:01 left in the first half, Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston forced a fumble with his sack of Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer that defensive end Allen Bailey recovered. Kansas City scored on the ensuing snap for a 27-6 lead.

Smith followed both turnovers with scoring strikes, finding tight end Travis Kelce with a 10-yard pass after Peters’ interception for a 7-0 lead with 10:22 left in the first quarter. Smith hit running back Jamaal Charles for a 7-yard touchdown pass after the Bailey fumble recovery.

“It was nice to get off to a start like that; you never expect it,” Smith said. “You can’t anticipate that. Luckily we got the opportunities and took advantage.

“When you get those situations — we had good field position and got the couple turnovers in the red zone and were able to capitalize. I think, in the end, that was the difference.”

Kelce added a 42-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown later in the first quarter after a Texans (0-1) drive stalled near midfield. Chiefs kicker Dustin Colquitt chipped in a pair of field goals before the Charles scoring grab, just enough scoring to bolster the Chiefs’ ferocious defense.

What we learned about the Chiefs:

1. The revamped offensive line passed its first test, despite the loss of right tackle Eric Fisher. With every starter either new to the team or new to the position, the Chiefs kept the talented Texans’ defensive front in check while surrendering only two sacks (both to defensive end J.J. Watt). Fisher sat out with a high left ankle sprain and was replaced by Jah Reid, who was recently released by the Baltimore Ravens. “It was a tall task. They had a big challenge,” Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said. “Those guys stepped up. They deserve a lot of credit.”

2. Even with modest overall numbers, receiver Jeremy Maclin made a positive impact. Maclin finished with five receptions (on nine targets) for 52 yards, but his ability to stretch the field opened up the middle for tight end Travis Kelce and the flats for running backs Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis. “I probably could have used him more,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of Maclin. “He obviously created a little space there for (Kelce) because he had a pretty good game.”

3. Jamaal Charles typically performs at All-Pro levels, but doing so in front of family and friends is especially gratifying. Charles, a native of Port Arthur, Texas, roughly 95 miles east of Houston, excelled before a large group of supporters organized by his aunt. Charles finished with 103 yards and a touchdown on 21 touches, showcasing the run-pass versatility that makes him one of the most dangerous running backs in the league. “It’s exciting to put on (a show) for my city,” Charles said. “It was an honor that coach (Andy Reid) let me get a touchdown and called the right play and I got in the end zone.”

Etc.

–RT Eric Fisher (high left ankle sprain) did not start after an unsuccessful week of practice. Fisher sustained the injury Aug. 17, and he missed the final three preseason games. He was unable to push off the ankle last week in practice, and a decision was made to start Jah Reid, who was signed recently after being released by the Baltimore Ravens.

–CB Marcus Peters recorded an interception on his first NFL snap, picking off QB Brian Hoyer on the Texans’ first play from scrimmage. Peters’ pick set up the first Kansas City touchdown. The 18th overall selection out of Washington, Peters finished with seven tackles and three passes defensed in addition to his interception.

–QB Alex Smith completed 22 of 33 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions, posting a 118.6 passer rating in the process. Smith only enjoyed two games with a higher rating last season and just four total in his two-plus seasons in Kansas City.


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