KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Don’t worry about a Super Bowl letdown in Kansas City.
If anything, the Chiefs opened up Thursday night where they left off in Miami on Feb. 4.
The Chiefs’ kicked off the regular season in defense of their league championship with a game of dominant runs against the Houston Texans at Arrowhead Stadium.
After spotting the Texans an early 7-0 lead, the Chiefs ran off 17 straight points to take a 17-7 halftime lead. The Chiefs eventually opened up a 31-7 lead before Houston’s offense was heard from again in the fourth quarter, when the game was effectively out of reach.
The other run, quite literally, came from rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who electrified the close to 16,000 fans in attendance by gashing the Texans for 138 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries.
Look out, NFL. This Chiefs team effectively announced they remain a force to be reckoned with after a convincing 34-20 win against a playoff-caliber Texans squad. It was the sixth consecutive season-opening win for coach Andy Reid and the Chiefs.
The Chiefs did it with a balanced attack on offense, even with Edwards-Helaire making his rookie debut.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes had another fine day at the office, completing 24 of 32 passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns — one each to tight end Travis Kelce and wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill. The star quarterback would’ve had a fourth touchdown, but wide receiver Demarcus Robinson dropped what should’ve been a score on the Chiefs’ opening drive.
Watkins enjoyed a good outing, hauling in seven catches for 82 yards on nine targets. Kelce showed he was in midseason form with six catches for 50 yards and a touchdown on six targets.
The game was an unveiling of sorts for Edwards-Helaire, the LSU product whose impressive outing will give upcoming opponents something more to think about when it comes to the Chiefs offense.
With the Chiefs’ offensive linemen imposing their will on the Texans’ defense, Edwards-Helaire showcased his ability to hit a hole without hesitation. In the open field, the rookie proved hard to tackle and finished the night averaging 5.5 yards per carry.
And Edwards-Helaire wasn’t the only Chiefs rookie to have a good showing in the season opener.
On defense, cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, the Chiefs’ fourth-round pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, drew the start at right cornerback over Rashad Fenton and was exceptional.
Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson appeared to go after Sneed early, but Sneed held his own. He also showed his speed by hanging with wide receiver Brandin Cooks down the right sideline before reaching up to break up the pass.
Sneed finished the game with three tackles, two pass breakups and an interception.
After allowing the Texans to score in the first quarter on a 19-yard scamper by running back David Johnson, the Chiefs put the clamps down and befuddled the potent Houston offense.
Watson, one of the NFL’s elite signal-callers, totaled 668 yards passing and three touchdowns in two games against the Chiefs last year. Thursday night, the Texans quarterback found the going tough and completed just 20 of 32 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown and an interception for an 84.5 passer rating. Most of Watson’s production came in the final period with the game essentially out of reach, and the Chiefs sacked him four times. Defensive tackle Chris Jones had 1.5 sacks.
With the Texans offense struggling to get into any sort of rhythm, the Chiefs’ offense held a commanding 34:47-to-25:13 edge in time of possession.
The Chiefs (1-0) now have an extended weekend break before hitting the road for Week 2 against the Los Angeles Chargers.