Red Zone

Halftime observations: Chiefs 27, Texans 9

Chiefs' Jamaal Charles dove into the end zone for a touchdown in the second quarter against the Houston Texans.
Chiefs' Jamaal Charles dove into the end zone for a touchdown in the second quarter against the Houston Texans. deulitt@kcstar.com

The Chiefs lead the Texans 27-9 at halftime of their season opener at NRG Stadium. Here are some thoughts and observations.

1. The Chiefs used a lot of quick passes and screens to their running backs negate the Texans’ advantage up front. This also got the Texans on their heels and softened them up for a healthy dose of Travis Kelce and Jeremy Maclin downfield. Kelce caught three passes for 70 yards and two touchdowns in the first half while Maclin caught five for 52.

2. Jamaal Charles saw his reception total drop from 70 in 2013 to 40 in 2014, so his five-catch first half (for 46 yards and a touchdown) is a promising start. Also, quarterback Alex Smith completed 15 of 20 passes for 193 yards and three touchdowns. Their performances, plus Kelce’s and Maclin’s, made for outstanding passing balance, and was a particular reason this passing game will be difficult to stop if everyone stays healthy (and the offensive line can block). Speaking of which...

3. J.J. Watt has been made his presence known, recording five tackles and a ridiculous sack he converted despite having his helmet ripped off mid-play. But for the most part, the Chiefs and right tackle Jah Reid and right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif have done enough to keep him making any game-changing plays.

4. It’s hard to imagine a better start to a career for a corner than Marcus Peters’, who intercepted the very first play from scrimmage. Peters, who was matched up against Texans star DeAndre Hopkins, made a diving pick that set up the Chiefs’ first touchdown. Hopkins eventually got Peters back though, high-pointing a fade for a touchdown later in the quarter.

5. Good half for kicker Cairo Santos, who made both extra point attempts and a pair of field goals from 48- and 27 yards. He also fared much better on kickoffs, repeatedly drilling the ball deep enough for touchbacks. The Chiefs won all three phases of the game in the first half. Handily.

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to tpaylor@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @TerezPaylor. Tap here to download the new Red Zone Extra app for iOS and Android devices.

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