Silver linings were difficult to come by for the Chiefs after their 19-12 loss to the Texans on Sunday.
But one area of encouragement over the previous week was run defense.
The Chiefs held the Texans to 97 rushing yards and an average of 2.9 yards per attempt.
“I thought we did a respectable job there,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “The linebackers filled the gaps well and we tackled well.”
The effort stood in contrast to the previous week, the victory over the Chargers in the regular-season opener.
The Chargers rolled up 155 rushing yards with Melvin Gordon giving the Chiefs fits, especially in the first half. Gordon, a second-year pro, scored his first two NFL touchdowns in that game as the Chiefs surrendered three rushing plays of 12 or more yards.
That performance had the Chiefs leery of the Texans and Lamar Miller, another powerful running back who had rushed for a career-best 106 yards in Houston’s season opener, against the Bears.
But the Chiefs mostly contained Miller, who finished with 82 yards in 25 attempts with a long run of eight.
“We were all on the same page, both up front and everyone in the secondary,” linebacker Justin March-Lillard said. “That was the big thing last week, not being on the same page. So we all were this week and you know what? It showed.”
The Chiefs got pushed around by the Chargers but dug in against the Texans, especially nose tackle Dontari Poe, who contributed two run stops and a total of five tackles while receiving the Chiefs’ highest defensive grade of the game by Pro Football Focus.
Reid called it one of Poe’s best games “in the past two years.”
The effort helped the Chiefs stay in a game longer than their offensive production would normally allow. The Texans got into the end zone once, a 27-yard touchdown pass from Brock Osweiler to DeAndre Hopkins immediately after recovering a fumble.
Otherwise, the Chiefs defense kept the game within striking distance.
The Chiefs on Sunday will face another running game challenge in the Jets and Matt Forte, who has been a workhorse in the first two weeks.
Forte, a ninth-year pro, is coming off a 100-yard, three-touchdown rushing game in a victory at Buffalo. He has 52 attempts and 196 rushing yards on the season.
The approach that seemed to work last week will be applied against the Jets, Chiefs safety Eric Berry said.
“We’ll get it all put together and see what we come up with,” Berry said.