January 9 2016: Kansas City Chiefs 30 – Houston Texans 0
We’re not going back too far into the past this week – in fact just to the last time we beat this week’s opponents, the Houston Texans.
As I knew only too well as a long time Chiefs follower, this team had good years and bad years, but just could not get it done in the playoffs. The last post-season win was over 20 years previous (in the same city, as Joe Montana led KC to a win over the Texans’ predecessors in Houston, Warren Moon’s Oilers). But we had finished the regular season with a sensational 10 win streak, to soar from 1 & 5 to a great 11 & 5 record – and we had already beaten these opponents 27-20 in the season opener. So hopes were high, and even those shrewd folks in Vegas had made us narrow favourites.
All Chiefs fans were nervous, though, after a string of painful playoff losses. But nerves were settled after 11 seconds, the time it took for Knile Davis to field the kickoff in his own end zone and take it 106 yards back downfield to open the score with the first play off the game.
Davis, a third round draft pick for the Chiefs in 2013, had almost been an instant playoff hero as a rookie. Filling in for the concussed Jamaal Charles, he scored two touchdowns in quick succession in the 2013 wild card game against the Colts, to put the Chiefs well in front… but sadly not quite far enough in front, as Andrew Luck led Indianapolis to a dramatic comeback. Still, a rushing, receiving and returning touchdown is a pretty good return in only three playoff games played by the running back out of Arkansas.
Over to Brian Hoyer, the Texans QB, to start the response: his first drive went three-and-out, his second ended with an Eric Berry pick, and his third ended when he fumbled the ball under pressure from Allen Bailey. It was not looking like his night!
Starting with the ball in the second quarter, the Chiefs went downfield twice – stopped short of the line both times, but close enough to allow Cairo Santos to extend the lead with a pair of field goals. Houston then finally got their offence together, moving the ball 80 yards downfield to the Kansas City line – they gave the ball to JJ Watt first for a trick play that went nowhere, and they went back to Hoyer, only for him to be picked off again.
There wasn’t another score in the half – but there was still time for another Hoyer interception. This time his pass went to the waiting arms of Marcus Peters, making the ninth and final interception of his astonishing rookie season.
Kansa City’s first possession of the second half started backed up on their own goal line after a good Houston punt, but quarterback Alex Smith put together a string of short passes (7 of 8, for 74 yards), to put the ball into the arms of rookie receiver Chris Conley for a 20-0 lead. And the next Chiefs drive
showed the other side of the attacking game, as a 48-yard completion to Travis Kelce was the centrepiece of a successful drive which was started and ended by a Spencer Ware rush.
After a deep punt by Dustin Colquitt later in the final quarter, Hoyer started another Texans drive at his own 8 yard line. It lasted one play, as his downfield pass to De’Andre Hopkins was grabbed by cornerback Sean Smith – Hoyer’s fourth pick, thrown to four different Chiefs defenders.
After four years at Miami, where he had been a second round pick from the Utah Utes (also Alex Smith’s college football home), this was Smith’s third year in KC. He had made a name for himself in his first season as a Chief by taking a goal line interception 100 yards back for a score in a come-from-behind win in Buffalo.
Smith’s pick allowed Ryan Succop an easy field goal, to wrap up the scoring for the game: an incredible 30-0 win, and the end of the unwanted record of the losing playoff streak in football !
Elsewhere in the NFL at the time:
Some much closer finishes in the other Wild Card games – Seattle scraped past Minnesota 10-9 when Blair Walsh missed a late field goal for the Vikings, while in a topsy-turvy game, the Bengals came from 15-0 down to lead the Steelers 16-15 only to give away two senseless penalties in the last minute to put Pittsburgh in range to kick the winning field-goal.
Elsewhere in the world:
British astronaut Tim Peake is keeping busy on the International Space Station, carrying out a space-walk the day before our big playoff win. Back down on Earth, fourth tier Oxford United caused the shock of the FA Cup 3rd round by knocking out Swansea City of the Premier League.