The key plays, stats and grades from the Chiefs’ 19-12 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday at NRG Stadium.
Player of the game: Houston receiver DeAndre Hopkins was very good, catching seven of 11 passes thrown his way for 113 yards. He also scored the only touchdown of the day.
Reason to hope: The Chiefs managed to stay in the game and have a chance to win despite committing so many penalties (nine for 77 yards) and three turnovers. They also shored up their run defense after an iffy debut Sept. 11 against the San Diego Chargers.
Reason to mope: The passing offense limped out of the gate for the second straight week, the pass rush generally wasn’t good enough and several teammates and coaches had to calm Marcus Peters down at various points throughout the game.
Looking ahead: The Chiefs, 1-1, face the New York Jets, 1-1, at 3:25 p.m. Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. The Jets are coming off a Thursday night win over Buffalo, so they will have three additional days to prepare.
Rushing offense: B
Any time you rush 19 times for 119 yards – a stellar average of 6.3 yards per carry – it’s superb. Charcandrick West (6 rushes for 61 yards) and Spencer Ware (10 for 57) make a nice tandem, but Ware had a first-half fumble that ended a potential scoring drive, and the Texans found a way to limit Alex Smith’s scrambling ability (two carries, 2 yards).
Passing offense: F
Nowhere close to good enough. Smith completed only 54 percent of his passes (20 of 37) for 186 yards. He was sacked four times and had a quarterback rating of 68.1. Jeremy Maclin, who caught six passes for 68 yards on an unusually-high 15 targets, was frustrated with his performance afterward, too. Meanwhile tight end Travis Kelce, who tortured the Texans for eight catches, 128 yards and two touchdowns in the Wild Card Game win, was held to five catches for a meager 34 yards. Throw in Smith’s two lost fumbles, which are just as bad as interceptions, and the Chiefs get a failing grade here. Four years into this offensive system, the bar is higher for them now.
Rushing defense: A
The Texans are one of the league’s most run-reliant teams, and the Chiefs did a very good job of containing new tailback Lamar Miller. Miller rushed 25 times for 83 yards, an average of 3.3 yards per carry, and the Texans, as a team, only rushed for 2.9 yards per carry. They also failed to convert their sole “makeable” third-down rushing attempt. Considering the run-defense issues the Chiefs faced last week, they deserve credit for fixing this.
Passing defense: C
Not bad. Peters had two interceptions, which is good (and saves this grade from being a notch lower). And quarterback Brock Osweiler completed nearly 58 percent of his passes (19 of 33), which is OK. But while Osweiler posted a nearly-identical quarterback rating to Smith’s (68.8 to 68.1), he threw for 268 yards, with many of the yardscoming on intermediate and deep routes. That means there was time to rush the quarterback, and the Chiefs only recorded two sacks and five quarterback pressures (compared to the Texans’ four sacks and nine pressures on Smith). The Texans also had two 100-yard receivers in DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, but the defense did keep the Chiefs in the game and prevent it from getting out of hand.
Special teams: C
There was plenty of good here, including four nice punt returns by Tyreek Hill (15.8-yard average). The Chiefs also averaged 26.3 yards per kick return and held a dangerous returner (Tyler Ervin) in check while downing three punts inside the 20. Demarcus Robinson had a big hit as a gunner while Cairo Santos made all four of his field-goal attempts. But the holding penalty on Hill’s kick-return touchdown in the fourth quarter was deflating, as was Santos’ out-of-bounds penalty on a kickoff early in the fourth quarter.
The defense, which performed admirably against the run and kept the Chiefs in the game, saved this from being lower. The Chiefs’ offense started slow for the second straight week, and while they had plenty go against them — like multiple fumbles, which is on the players — the offense’s inability to get anything going when it isn’t operating in the no-huddle is a bit concerning. After a rough first half, you could argue the Chiefs should have considered going to the no-huddle earlier than they did (down two scores in the fourth quarter). There were also way too many penalties (nine for 77 yards), which speaks to a lack of discipline that coaches hold themselves accountable for.