Alex Smith on keeping the lead: "I think it becomes demoralizing"
The key plays, stats and grades from the Kansas City Chiefs’ 42-34 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday night at NRG Stadium.
Player of the game: Quarterback Alex Smith continues his MVP candidacy, completing 29 of 37 passes for 324 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Reason to hope: The Chiefs have so many ways to beat you. Tyreek Hill put the nail in the Texans’ coffin with his 82-yard punt-return touchdown, but the Smith-guided offense was once again super-efficient.
Reason to mope: Star tight end Travis Kelce missed the entire second half while being evaluated for a concussion, and the offense obviously loses some of its dynamism when he’s not on the field. Chris Conley’s likely Achilles injury also put a damper on the victory.
Looking ahead: The Chiefs, 5-0, will head back to Arrowhead Stadium to play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers at 3:25 p.m. Sunday. The Steelers, 3-2, are coming off a 30-9 home loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars but remain dangerous; this is the team that came into Kansas City in January and ended the Chiefs’ season with an 18-16 victory.
Rushing offense: Kareem Hunt tallied another 100-yard day, rushing for 107 yards, but it took him 29 carries to do so –– an average of 3.7 yards per carry. The Texans’ run defense was largely solid.
Passing offense: Smith was outstanding, and he got everybody involved, completing passes to 10 different Chiefs –– an astounding number. Kelce paced the group, catching eight passes for 98 yards before he left the game.
Rushing defense: The Chiefs had a hard time stopping the Texans’ hard-charging ground game. Lamar Miller, D’Onta Foreman, Deshaun Watson and Will Fuller combined to rush 23 times for 144 yards –– a way-too-high-average of 6.3 yards per carry.
Passing defense: Watson had a nice statistical day, completing 16 of 31 passes for 261 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions. The pass defense was a major reason the Chiefs yielded 32 points. The only reason they didn’t get an “F” is because they won. Not good enough.
Special teams: Really strong night for Dave Toub’s units. Rookie kicker Harrison Butker was outstanding, nailing all five of his field goal attempts, while Hill’s 82-yard punt return in the fourth quarter finished off the Texans.
Coaching: Another strong performance by the Chiefs’ offense, and while the defense buckled under Watson’s creativity, the special teams did enough to make up for it. Still, the defense had its worse performance of the season and this grade reflects that.