The Awaited Return of Football Only Validated The Assertions Of Both Teams On Thursday Night Football
Football’s much anticipated return began in Missouri with the the clash of it’s two highest paid quarterbacks, in front of a limited capacity crowd. A crowd who made themselves heard, in only one of two stadiums where fans will see live action, this weekend.
The fans appeared to voice their displeasure at the stand in solidarity of the two team pre-game, who were opposing racial injustice. A stance that has become synonymous with sports, as players continue to contribute to the cause. The crowds reaction was a pre-cursor to a game that failed to deliver as the spectacle craved by millions. Mahommes and the Chiefs comfortably saw off a Houston team, who after taking the lead, will draw few positives to take into their home opener, next week.
The back-field motions, screens and levelled drag routes that we have seen Mahommes execute masterfully were as ever, on show. Eric Bienemy’s offence will have success against many defences but the addition of Clyde Edwards Hellaire was new dimension to their attack. The former LSU stand-out followed up his breakout season in Louisiana with a 138-rushing yards, displaying his ability to run inside zone as he did in the SEC. His elusiveness and patience was aided by the addition of left-guard, Kelechi Osemele who’s 330lbs frame gave the Texans interior problems and added an element of steel to the KC line compared to a year ago.
The Texans defence under Anthony Weaver mixed up coverage looks, which Mahomes wasn’t expecting and held him to the third lowest yards per attempt to date and was scoreless in the first quarter. But as the game continued the Chiefs grew offensively and the Texans departed from any realms of potency. The Chiefs offence appear to now pose a more daunting task, that the one that won them Superbowl 54, back in February. Mahomes stated post-game “we have confidence in every single person in that huddle” and justifiably so.
The potential balance of the Chiefs will require the AFC to take note. Next they face a sterner test in the LA Chargers defence which will give a more accurate barometer of how potent the reigning champions attack appeared to be. An attack who easily sustained long drives through their varied approach in scheming open their array of skill players. It will be a hard task for any team to hang with their free scoring ability. Particularly, if their defensive front continue to win on the line of scrimmage. As the unit, lead by Chris Jones, who contributed 1.5 sacks on the night and asserted his will on right-guard Zack Fulton. As the Houston front made too many mental errors in their blocking assignments.
After taking the lead, it provided a reminder to all that David Johnson isn’t finished yet. and Johnston looked in great shape, where his lethal one cut ability and pass catching versatility gave the Texans 109-yards on the night. But the key question, in the absence of Breshad Breeland, could Watson and his cast of receivers take advantage of the inexperienced Chiefs corners? Fuller, who had 112 yards on the night, form 8 receptions, dropped a key pass on the first drive. The rookie Louisiana Tech Corner L’Jarius Sneed had a night to remember, on his debut performance. The fourth round pick broke up that pass early, when he was a target for the Houston offence and he later picked off a ball that sailed after Watson’ arm was struck mid-throw by Tyran Mathieu.
That moment, mid-third quarter, was the end of Houston’s hopes, on a night where they failed to build any offensive momentum. On another night the Texans would have had three interceptions, two were ruled out by flags, the first of which was a key point at the end of the half. Houston kicker, Kiami Fairburn, missed a field goal attempt and then despite only have 25 seconds on the clock, aided by a Horse Collar penalty on Zack Cunningham, the Chiefs duly marched down the field and tacked on three, from the foot of Butker.
That 6 point swing was then compounded, on the first drive of the second half, Edwards-Helaire notched his first touchdown as pro, where again the Houston front was exposed and some abject tackling saw Kansas City put up 31 unanswered point. A story line all too familiar for Houston, in Arrowhead Stadium, who did little to banish the nightmare of that blown 24-point lead in January.
Deshaun Watson and the Texans offence, play called by Tim Kelly for the first time, will need to use the extended break to understand how they can start faster and execute with greater fluidity. The view of many this off season was that Watson and Co.’s attempts may be in vein, if their porous defence doesn’t find a way to shore up its holes. A view that held substantial validity last night. Another acid test awaits next week with the visit of Baltimore.
O’Brien summed it up in post match presser stating “there’s a lot of things to fix” and he certainly has work ahead of him as the Chiefs made light work of his Houston team in a rather imperious manner, without getting into third gear. Andy Reid’s comments were casual in the same manner as his teams performance. “Let’s keep rolling” and it would seem it will take a sizeable effort that only a few teams may pose, in order to hault their quest for a successive championship this season
Final – Texans 20 – Chiefs 34 – Arrowhead Stadium