A knee injury to receiver Jeremy Maclin will be discussed a lot next week, but for one night, give the Kansas City Chiefs their moment.
The team which blew a 28-point lead to the Indianapolis Colts a few years ago, and which suffered several numbing playoff defeats on home turf over the past two decades, no longer has to hear about its inability to win a playoff game. The Chiefs buried a lot of haunting memories and the Houston Texans on Saturday, running away with a 30-0 victory in NRG Stadium. The shutout moves Kansas City into the AFC divisional round.
The last time the Chiefs won a playoff game, the year was 1994, but the scene of a Kansas City conquest was the same. The Chiefs and Joe Montana fended off Warren Moon and the Oilers in Houston.
Yes, the caliber of quarterbacking was just a wee bit better 22 years ago, but the Chiefs — given a prolonged propensity to face-plant in the playoffs, especially under favorable circumstances — did what they were supposed to do in the first game of the 2016 postseason. It’s rare when this franchise answers the bell in January, so head coach Andy Reid and his defense deserve more than a bread crumb of credit.
Knile Davis certainly set the right tone for the Chiefs on Saturday. His opening-kickoff return of over 100 yards served the double purpose of taking pressure off his offense and throwing added pressure on Houston’s attack. Brian Hoyer has been a backup quarterback for most of his career, and the immediate 7-0 deficit prevented him from taking a single snap in a tied game or one the Texans led.
It was as though Hoyer was all too conscious of the need to play above his pay grade once his team fell behind by a touchdown. Overly ambitious pass attempts, especially in the red zone and in Kansas City territory, revealed in full a quarterback who was simply not ready to meet the very large moment in front of him.
As poorly as Hoyer played, however, the Chiefs did need to demonstrate their toughness in order to force the Texans to implode.
Leading 13-0 in the second quarter, the Chiefs watched the Texans move to the doorstep of the goal line. Houston called a power running play with all-world defensive wizard J.J. Watt trying to score on something other than a pick-six or a fumble return. The Chiefs were ready, stuffing Watt for a two-yard loss. Moments later, Hoyer threw one of his four interceptions in the game. Houston — which might have done better with the Warren Moon of today under center — never offered another credible reply.
Kansas City — once 1-5 and immersed in misery — has ended the playoff drought it so desperately wanted to chuck into the dust bin of history. One year after a 7-8-1 Carolina team won a home playoff game, there was no reason for the Chiefs to take this game for granted.
They played with an appropriate sense of urgency, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
The injury to Jeremy Maclin is an obvious point of concern, but at least the Kansas City Chiefs have another game and another injury report to consider.
The scenario surely beats all the alternatives.