Key play: Knile Davis opened the game with a 106-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, giving the Chiefs an early advantage.
Key stat: Davis’ score was the Chiefs’ first special-teams touchdown all year.
Key play: Josh Mauga’s interception of Brian Hoyer near the Chiefs’ goal line prevented a Texans score and preserved the momentum.
Key stat: The Texans committed four first-half turnovers.
Key play: Alex Smith’s 9-yard touchdown throw to Chris Conley extended the Chiefs’ lead to 20 points and prevented a letdown after Jeremy Maclin’s injury.
Key stat: The Chiefs outgained the Texans 151-40 in the quarter.
Key play: Spencer Ware’s 5-yard touchdown run at the start of the quarter put the Texans in a 27-0 hole.
Key stat: The Chiefs won the turnover battle 5-1.
Nice effort by the Chiefs, who rushed 37 times for 141 yards — an average of 3.8 yards per carry — and a touchdown. The yards-per-carry average isn’t amazing, but the Chiefs were able to churn out yards in the second half to effectively bury the Texans, and there’s something to that. Spencer Ware carried the mail, rushing a team-high 16 times for 67 yards and a touchdown. Charcandrick West chipped in 26 yards, and Alex Smith added 27.
Aside from the one interception, which was the result of a tipped ball, Smith was very good, completing 17 of 22 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown. He continued to drive the ball downfield after the interception, which was a plus, and the line did a good job holding off an imposing defensive front, despite a three-sack day. Bonus points for holding all-world end J.J. Watt to only one tackle. Tight end Travis Kelce had himself a day too, catching eight passes for 128 yards.
The Texans moved the ball some on the ground, rushing 25 times for 114 yards, an average of 4.6 yards per carry. Running back Alfred Blue broke off some nice runs, with 17 carries for 99 yards. But when you shut out a playoff team, you’re doing something right, and the Chiefs — whose interior defensive line came to play — made enough timely stops to lift this grade a little higher than normal, given Houston’s output.
Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer had a miserable day, completing only 15 of 34 passes for 136 yards, with zero touchdowns and four interceptions. He was also sacked three times and fumbled twice, losing one. The Chiefs’ brought it, especially on the interior, where defensive end Allen Bailey (two sacks) and nose tackle Jaye Howard (one sack) were disruptive. Four different Chiefs picked off Hoyer passes. Hard to imagine a performance much better than this.
Great day for the special teams, which scored their first touchdown of the season courtesy of Knile Davis’ 106-yard kickoff return. Kicker Cairo Santos went three for three on field goals and drilled seven touchbacks. Dustin Colquitt dropped three of his four punts inside the 20. Penalties negated two nice Frankie Hammond punt returns, but given the unit’s overall production, there’s no need to pick nits here.
Again, when you shut out a playoff team on the road, you’re doing a lot right. The Chiefs’ offensive play calling was on point — there was some dynamism there — while defensive coordinator Bob Sutton had a good bead on what Hoyer was trying to do all day. Special-teams coach Dave Toub had a great day, too. Outstanding job by everyone.
Player of the game: It has to be someone from the defense, and end Allen Bailey — who had four tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles — shined brightly.
Reason to hope: The Chiefs just dominated a playoff team on the road. That’s a heck of a sign going forward.
Reason to mope: If Jeremy Maclin’s right knee injury is significant, it is a serious loss for the Chiefs’ offense.
Looking ahead: The Chiefs will face the Patriots, 12-4, on the road Saturday in the divisional round. The game will be tough, but the Chiefs are winners of 11 in a row, and hot teams typically fare well in the playoffs, obviously.