The Chiefs led the AFC in takeaways. Saturday, they showed why.
Four interceptions and one fumble recovery paved the way for a 30-0 victory over the Houston Texans in an AFC Wild Card Game.
The Chiefs made the first postseason start for Texans’ quarterback Brian Hoyer a miserable one. They picked him off three times and forced a fumble before halftime.
A final interception in the fourth quarter sealed the outcome.
Everyone, it seemed, got into the act.
Safety Eric Berry, a day after being named to The Associated Press All-Pro team, made a sliding interception to end the Texans’ second possession.
Linebacker Josh Mauga and rookie cornerback Marcus Peters collected interceptions before halftime, and tackle Dontari Poe recovered a fumble with the force credited to Allen Bailey.
In the second half, cornerback Sean Smith completed the takeaway haul with an interception. The four picks fell one short of a team playoff record but nobody left unsatisfied.
“Everybody has that ability to make plays,” safety Husain Abdullah said. “We don’t sit back and wait for E.B. (Berry), or Justin (Houston) or Tamba (Hali). Everyone can make a play. That’s what makes us so dangerous. We have that attacking style defense.”
Offensively, the Chiefs didn’t take full advantage of the opportunities provided by the defense. The five turnovers produced only two Cairo Santos’ field goals on the ensuing possessions.
But some of the turnovers prevented Texans’ scores.
Houston’s best touchdown opportunity came and went in the second quarter when Hoyer was picked off by Mauga at the goal line.
“It was just a bad decision,” Hoyer said. “I’ve got to be smarter about that play. It definitely took points off the board and that’s on me.”
The play finished a bizarre sequence for the Texans. Hoyer overthrew leading receiver DeAndre Hopkins in the end zone when he was defended by reserve cornerback Steven Nelson. Two plays later, defensive end J.J. Watt took a direct snap and ran behind 325-pound lead blocker and nose tackle Vince Wolfork. The play lost 1 yard.
Hoyer’s interception occurred on the next play.
The Texans had four turnovers over a five-possession stretch in the first half, and although the Chiefs couldn’t pull away, leading 13-0 at halftime, they in demoralizing Houston.
The boos for Hoyer and the offense grew louder with each turnover. But Texans’ coach Bill O’Brien didn’t pull his quarterback like he did when Hoyer was ineffective in the season-opening loss to the Chiefs.
The Chiefs continued feasting on the mistakes, Peters said, because that’s how they play.
“We wanted to go out there and just play our style of football,” said Peters, who had eight interceptions during the regular season. “We wanted to get after the quarterback and make our plays in the backfield.”