Red Zone

Game report: Chiefs 30, Bills 22

Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (right) fended off Bills safety Corey Graham on a 38-yard pass play in the third quarter.
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (right) fended off Bills safety Corey Graham on a 38-yard pass play in the third quarter. deulitt@kcstar.com

First quarter

Key play: Facing third and 10 at the Bills’ 35, Buffalo’s Tyrod Taylor completed a gorgeous pass to Sammy Watkins for a drive-extending first down. The Bills went on and scored the only touchdown of the first quarter.

Key stat: The Bills outgained the Chiefs 183 to 29.

Second quarter

Key play: Alex Smith’s 41-yard touchdown throw to Jeremy Maclin seemed to give the Chiefs some life and ignited a dormant offense.

Key stat: The Chiefs responded after a miserable first quarter with a 170-yard second quarter.

Third quarter

Key play: Frank Zombo’s sack of Taylor on the Bills’ two-point conversion attempt preserved a 24-22 lead and kept momentum on the Chiefs’ side.

Key stat: Watkins, who tortured the Chiefs for 158 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, was shut out in the second half.

Fourth quarter

Key play: Taylor was run out of bounds short of the sticks on fourth down by Dezman Moses, which allowed the Chiefs to run out the clock the rest of the way.

Key stat: Smith has now gone 283 passes without an interception, the fourth-longest streak in NFL history.

The grades

Rushing offense

A

Spencer Ware continues to impress with the more opportunities he receives. He runs hard and is a big, decisive runner who is difficult to bring down in close quarters. He finished with 114 yards and a touchdown in 19 carries, and as a team the Chiefs averaged 5.9 yards per carry. That will get the job done.

Passing offense

A

After a miserable first quarter, Alex Smith started attacking the Bills’ single-high coverage with downfield throws. He finished the game 19 of 30 for 255 yards and two touchdowns, and did a nice job targeting his two biggest weapons, receiver Jeremy Maclin and tight end Travis Kelce. Maclin finished with nine receptions for 160 yards and a touchdown, while Kelce had four catches for 69 yards and a touchdown. Smith was only sacked once despite an offensive line that lost three starters during the game due to injuries.

Rushing defense

C

Running back LeSean McCoy had a few nice moves, but he was kept in check for the most part, rushing 19 times for 70 yards. But quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s ability to escape pressure proved to be a nuisance, and he rushed five times for 46 yards. As a team, the Bills rushed 28 times for 129 yards, a solid average of 4.6 yards per carry. But the Chiefs do get some credit for keeping the longest run to 15 yards.

Passing defense

C

This wasn’t very pretty by halftime, when the Chiefs had already surrendered six catches for 158 yards and two touchdowns to stud receiver Sammy Watkins, and Taylor was lighting them up. But the Chiefs’ defense did a nice job taking away Watkins in the second half, and while Taylor finished with 291 yards passing and three touchdowns, he only completed 21 of 38 passes. The Chiefs also strip-sacked him once and forced a turnover on downs to clinch the game. They get a passing grade.

Special teams

C

Cairo Santos continues his strong year: he converted three of four field goal attempts, with his only miss coming from 54 yards out. He also failed to get a touchback on kickoffs. Meanwhile, punter Dustin Colquitt had an uncommonly bad day. He struggled to find a rhythm in the first half and failed to down one of his three punts inside the 20. Knile Davis had a few nice returns on kickoffs, including a 38-yarder that was nullified by a penalty on Demetrius Harris, who also had a neutral-zone infraction on a punt return that led to Buffalo points.

Coaching

B

The Bills jumped out to a 10-0 lead, and some of that had to do with the game plan, both offensively and defensively. The Chiefs had no answer for Watkins early, and the Bills were banking on the Chiefs’ offense sticking to its typically horizontal nature. But give credit to Andy Reid and Bob Sutton — adjustments were made, and the Chiefs fought back for the win.

Takeaways

Player of the game: The Chiefs would not have won Sunday’s game without Jeremy Maclin. The Bills were playing a lot of single coverage, and Maclin’s ability to beat it gave the Chiefs’ offense the kind of dynamism it’s lacked for several years.

Reason to hope: If the Chiefs can continue running the football and winning the turnover battle while making teams pay with the occasional downfield pass, they will be difficult to beat going forward.

Reason to mope: Injuries, injuries, injuries. Justin Houston, Mitch Morse and Eric Fisher all left Sunday’s game and did not return. Jeff Allen left the game because of an ankle injury but returned, though he was gimpy the rest of the way. The Chiefs need to heal quickly.

Looking ahead: The Chiefs have a showdown looming against their old AFC West rival, Oakland. The Raiders, 5-6, also won Sunday and can pull to .500 with a win over the Chiefs. Expect a dogfight.

Terez A. Paylor, tpaylor@kcstar.com

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