The day before the Chiefs’ Wild Card playoff game at Houston on Saturday, Texans star receiver DeAndre Hopkins was not shy about how he’d like to be covered.
“I hope he follows me,” Hopkins told ESPN reporter Tiffany Blackmon, referring to Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters.
Peters did not follow Hopkins, it turns out. The Chiefs don’t move their corners much, and Peters manned his typical left corner position. But Peters, the Chiefs’ Pro Bowl rookie, still got the last laugh as he picked off one of four passes thrown by Houston quarterback Brian Hoyer in a 30-0 win.
“Man, we were just aggressive,” Peters said. “We wanted to go out there and play our style of football. We wanted to get after the quarterback and make our plays in the backfield.”
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The Chiefs — who ranked second in the NFL with 22 interceptions and fourth in sacks with 47 this season — did that. In addition to throwing four picks, Hoyer was sacked three times and also fumbled twice.
And Hopkins was kept out of the end zone Saturday after catching nine passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns the first time he faced Peters, in the Chiefs’ 27-20 season-opening win over the Texans. Both touchdowns came on high-point fades in the end zone.
But Saturday, Hopkins caught six passes for 69 yards on 11 targets, including a few catches on Peters. The two started yapping at each other early in the game, which led to inside linebacker Derrick Johnson briefly stepping in front of Peters.
“He didn’t follow me around,” Hopkins said. “Every time he played man, I had a completion so …”
Still, the Texans couldn’t consistently take advantage of Hopkins’ skills as the Chiefs rattled Hoyer. The Chiefs’ interior and outside pass rush were buoyed by the return of Justin Houston, who rotated with Tamba Hali and Dee Ford.
“His presence alone on the field, you’ve got to put two on him,” Peters said of Houston, who finished with three tackles and a quarterback hit. “You don’t put two on him, I feel sorry for you.”
But Peters was also quick to point out that the Chiefs couldn’t have shut out the Texans — the franchise’s first postseason shutout — without a team effort, which is the primary reason why the Chiefs have won 11 in a row and are moving on to the divisional round.
“It’s all three phases, that’s what Coach (Andy) Reid talked about,” Peters said. “He wanted to play a complete game on all three phases, so we took the ball over on defense … we protected the ball on offense … and we scored on special teams.”