Chiefs survive miscues, sloppy play for win
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs were nearly flawless in their Week 1 win over the Houston Texans.
They proved Sunday they can win when things aren't going quite so smoothly.
The Chiefs were penalized 11 times for 90 yards, had a handful of dropped passes and struggled to get into any offensive rhythm until the second half of their 23-20 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. They also made the kind of mental miscues that generally leave coach Andy Reid seething in his postgame news conference.
One of them occurred when wide receiver Mecole Hardman didn't touch down a defensive player following an interception – it wound up being a moot point because of a penalty. Another came when wide receiver Tyreek Hill removed his helmet after a long touchdown reception for what should have been a penalty – he claimed it already was coming off.
"I would never take my helmet off," Hill insisted. "When I'm on the field it's my responsibility to always keep my helmet on. That's one of Coach Reid's biggest pet peeves, taking your helmet off after a touchdown."
Regardless, all the miscues left Reid with this assessment: "We have to do better," he said. "There are no excuses."
Especially in an empty stadium. The Chiefs should have had no problem with communication with fans barred from Sofi Stadium for the Chargers' debut in their new digs because of the coronavirus pandemic. But they still had costly holding and offsides penalties along with a roughing the passer penalty in the fourth quarter.
The Chiefs managed to overcome the mistakes, though, thanks to another starring turn from Patrick Mahomes, a couple of crucial grabs by his wide receivers and a defense that was pushed around the first half but suddenly showed up.
"Obviously we didn't play the way we wanted to play," Mahomes said, "but to find a way to win, I think that when you get to the playoffs or when you get later in the season and you try to make a run, not every game is going to be a blowout."
Harrison Butker gives the Chiefs the chance to score points any time they cross midfield. His two 58-yard field goals, which matched Nick Lowery's franchise record, included the game-winner in overtime. Butker already has made 11 kicks of at least 50 yards in three-plus seasons – Lowery hit 20 of them from 1980-93. And Butker passed Pete Stoyanovich for sixth in franchise scoring with 445 points; next up is Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez, who scored 462 points from 1997-2008.
"I mean, what can you say?" Reid said of Butker, who has hit a field goal in a Chiefs-record 16 straight games. "He's a mentally tough kid and we appreciate him and how he goes about his job."
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The secondary is woefully depleted. Bashaud Breeland is only halfway through his four-game suspension and fellow starter Charvarius Ward is still dealing with a fractured hand. Antonio Hamilton went down Sunday with a hamstring injury.
CB L'Jarius Sneed is looking like a fourth-round steal in last April's draft. He's been pressed into service because of injuries and suspensions and has risen to the occasion, picking off a pass in each of his first two games.
"That's the reason why we went out and got him," Chiefs defensive backs coach Sam Madison said. "He is able to run, he's tall, he's long and you look at our corners from last year, you know he just fit that mold."
DT Chris Jones, who signed a four-year, $85 million deal in the offseason, was beaten regularly at the point of attack in the run game. He also was penalized for offside early in the game and roughing the passer on third down in the fourth quarter, giving the Chargers a first down and leading to a field goal that made it 20-17 with 2:30 left in the game.
RB Darrel Williams left with an ankle injury, DE Frank Clark was ill and WR Sammy Watkins took a blow to the head that drew Reid's ire. "I thought it was questionable," he said. "We're not supposed to have those in our game here."
LB Damien Wilson passed the concussion protocol and returned to the game. LB Anthony Hitchens played through a stinger.
28: That's the number of wins the Chiefs have over the AFC West in their past 30 games.
Mahomes and the Chiefs visit Lamar Jackson and the Ravens in a matchup of 2-0 teams next Monday night. They were on a collision course in last year's AFC playoffs before the Titans upset Baltimore in the divisional round. Kansas City then beat Tennessee in the conference title game before winning its first Super Bowl in 50 years.