Knile Davis caught the ball 6 yards deep in the end zone, and because Chiefs specialists were encouraged to return every kickoff, out he came. Davis made one move to his left, followed his blocking and galloped untouched into the end zone.
The Chiefs had opened the wild-card game at Houston with Davis’ 106-yard touchdown and never looked back in a 30-0 triumph that signaled two clear conclusions.
To the Chiefs, the burden of playoff futility was lifted. It had been eight straight playoff losses over 22 years.
The Texans shifted into change mode, bringing in quarterback Brock Osweiler from Denver on a deal worth $72 million over four years, running back Lamar Miller from the Dolphins and rookie wide receiver Will Fuller.
All came up big in the Texans’ 23-14 victory over the Bears last weekend.
Osweiler was 23 of 35 for 231 yards and two touchdowns, with five of those completions and a touchdown going to Fuller. Miller rushed for 106 yards.
“This is a different year, we’re a different team,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said.
It needed to be, at least when it came to facing the Chiefs. Houston won the AFC South with a 9-7 record, but the Texans’ losses to the Chiefs’ book-ended their season. They fell in the opening game 27-20, and Brian Hoyer started at quarterback both times. His first pass of the regular season was picked off by then-rookie Marcus Peters. In the playoff game, Hoyer threw four interceptions — the second most ever against a Chiefs team — and lost a fumble.
Enter Osweiler, who has a notebook full of Chiefs information, plus some first-hand knowledge.
As a member of the Broncos during 2012-15, Osweiler didn’t appear in many games until last year when he took over for an injured Peyton Manning in the second half of the season. The change occurred against the Chiefs, in the third quarter of the Chiefs’ victory at Denver.
So, Osweiler has muscle memory against Peters, Eric Berry, Derrick Johnson and company.
“It’s very valuable,” Osweiler said. “Just to have a better understanding of their personnel. Being in Denver the past four years, I’ve sat in lots of meetings, (learning) about their defense, their scheme and personnel.
“I watched a lot of games from the sidelines, but to get that half of play against those guys, it will certainly help me as far as understanding who some of those defensive backs are and what their skill set is, what they’re good at, maybe an area I’ll be able to attack.”
For the second straight week, the Chiefs are meeting an opponent they played and defeated twice last year. It took the greatest comeback in franchise history last week to overcome the Chargers, rallying from a 21-point second-half deficit for a 33-27 overtime victory.
This time, the Chiefs seek a third victory in 12-plus months in the same building, NRG Stadium. O’Brien believes enough has changed that the past won’t be a motivation.
“It’s an important game because both teams are 1-0 and it’s an AFC game,” O’Brien said.