Chiefs be­gin ti­tle de­fense with 34-20 vic­tory over Tex­ans

Big Spring Herald - - SPORTS -

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Just about the only thing that looked fa­mil­iar about the NFL's lon­gawaited re­turn Thurs­day night was the sight of Pa­trick Ma­homes ef­fort­lessly lead­ing the Kansas City Chiefs up and down the field.

The Su­per Bowl MVP threw for 211 yards and three touch­downs, Clyde Ed­wards-He­laire ran through the rain for 138 yards and an­other score, and the Chiefs be­gan de­fense of their first cham­pi­onship in 50 years by beat­ing the Hous­ton Tex­ans 34-20 on Thurs­day night be­fore a so­cially dis­tanced crowd of about 17,000 due to the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill each caught TD passes for the Chiefs. They have won 10 straight dat­ing to last sea­son. That run in­cludes a come-from-be­hind 51-31 vic­tory over the Tex­ans in the di­vi­sional round of the play­offs.

"I'm proud of our play­ers but I'm also proud of our fans. They came out there. They were loud," said Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who claimed he didn't no­tice some boo­ing from fans dur­ing a pregame mo­ment of unity in­volv­ing both teams.

"Ob­vi­ously, our play­ers, both sides of the ball and spe­cial teams , I thought they were solid," Reid con­tin­ued. "For the first game there were some good things that were done, some great in­di­vid­ual per­for­mances."

The Tex­ans' De­shaun Wat­son threw a touch­down pass and ran for an­other score, but he also was un­der re­lent­less pres­sure and was in­ter­cepted once. David John­son pro­vided the big­gest bright spot for Hous­ton, run­ning for 77 yards and a score.

"There's a lot to fix," Tex­ans coach Bill O'Brien said. "It's only one game. We have to im­prove pretty quickly. But it's only one game . We have to get back to work pretty soon and fix th­ese things."

The world has changed dra­mat­i­cally in the seven months since the Chiefs hoisted the Lom­bardi Tro­phy in Mi­ami.

Within six weeks, the term COVID-19 had be­come a part of ev­ery­day life, the dis­ease killing more than 900,000 peo­ple around the globe. The death of George Floyd at the knee of a white Min­neapo­lis po­lice of­fi­cer in May touched off the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment, which in turn has led to a sum­mer of so­cial un­rest that has gripped the coun­try.

Against that back­drop came an NFL opener un­like any other: masks worn by ev­ery­one from fans to the coach­ing staffs; a se­ries of videos rais­ing aware­ness of so­cial jus­tice ini­tia­tives and en­cour­ag­ing the pub­lic to vote; and ul­ti­mately both teams lock­ing arms in a dis­play of unity prior to the coin toss.

To the re­lief of many, kick­off fi­nally brought 4 hours of nor­malcy.

The Tex­ans, who blew a 24-point lead against Kansas City in the the play­offs, struck first when they marched 80 yards for a touch­down. The elu­sive John­son fin­ished it off by scam­per­ing 19 yards to the end zone for a 7-0 lead.

But just like that cold Jan­uary day, the red-hot Chiefs quickly over­came their slow start.

They tied it mo­ments later when Ma­homes threw a short touch­down pass to Kelce, then took the lead when they forced a quick punt and Ma­homes found Watkins in the end zone. Har­ri­son Butker capped the first half by kick­ing a chip-shot field goal that sent the Chiefs to the locker room with a 17-7 lead.

Ed­wards-He­laire, their firstround pick, padded the lead in the third quar­ter. Af­ter rip­ping off an 11-yard gain early in the drive, the pint-sized dy­namo out of LSU un­leashed a wicked stut­ter-step be­fore run­ning 27 yards for an­other score.

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