The Kansas City Chiefs stayed undefeated Sunday with a 23-17 victory over the Cleveland Browns. For the second straight week they didn’t play their best game, but the result is all that matters and the Chiefs are still the only NFL team without a loss.
Early on it looked like it might be a over pretty quickly at Arrowhead. The Chiefs were dominating on both sides of the ball, including the defense only allowing the Browns to run six plays in the first quarter.
Even though the Kansas City offense couldn’t punch it in the end zone at the end of two long drives, they still carried a 6-0 lead into the second quarter and pushed that to 13-0 after a nifty screen pass to FB Anthony Sherman.
After a third straight three-and-out by the Chiefs defense, Alex Smith put together a nine play drive that ended in a Ryan Succop field goal attempt that would have put Kansas City up 16-0, but the 52-yarder was wide left.
The Browns, unable to do anything offensively to this point, quickly made it a game with a beautiful 39-yard pass to Josh Gordon down the left sideline for a touchdown. Suddently it was a 13-7 game and the Chiefs needed to answer.
Answer they did. With Jamaal Charles chipping in runs of 14 and 17 yards, Smith was able to find enough space in the passing game to hit Dexter McCluster for a 28-yard strike in the end zone for a score that would end up being the decisive points in the game.
Not ones to go quietly, the Browns ended the first half with a field goal to cut the Chiefs lead to 10 and then opened up the second half with a nine-play touchdown drive that made it a 20-17 game.
From there they Chiefs had few answers on offense. Even a 10-play drive late in the fourth quarter wasn’t enough to put the game away. They were forced to punt after an Smith took a needless sack in Cleveland territory, giving the Browns almost four minutes to try and win the game.
But as has been the case for most of the season, the Kansas City defense was ready to save the day. As the Browns tried desperately to get down the field, the Chiefs only let them move the ball 15 yards before turning them over on downs.
With the ball at the Browns 31-yard line, the Chiefs forced Cleveland to use their final two timeouts before Succop hit his third field goal of the day.
With just 17 seconds left in the game, the Browns final play from their own 20 went for only nine yards as time ran out on their chances and pushed the Chiefs to 8-0.
Not too bad for a team that won just two games a year ago and have managed to survive some pretty ugly football the last couple of weeks.
Andy Reid’s squad has one more game before they get a week off, but before we start looking forward to the Buffalo Bills, here is a quick look at the three players that were instrumental in keeping the Chiefs perfect.
Offense: Dexter McCluster
Another fantastic performance from the shift McCluster. He caught seven passes for 67 yards, including the game-winning touchdown shortly after it looked like his day was over.
McCluster took a shot at the end of a play to his left wrist and he looked to be in a considerable amount of pain. The offensive weapon had the trainers wrap the wrist so he could get back on the field and he answered with that impressive 28-yard touchdown.
He finished with seven catches for 67 yards (9.6 average) and was targeted by Smith ten times as the team tried to do more than just lean on Charles.
Defense: Derrick Johnson
If all of the national attention for the Chiefs top ranked defense going to Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Dontari Poe bothers Johnson, it doesn’t show in the kind of effort he gives on the field. He just continues to be a monster this season.
Johnson finished Sunday with a game-high 12 tackles, more than double of any other Chiefs defender. He also recovered a fumble late in the game that was only overturned because Hali was offsides by a half step. Johnson responded by breaking up a third down pass two plays later.
Special Teams: Dustin Colquitt
With the Chiefs offense moving the ball in the first half, Colquitt didn’t have to punt once, instead focusing just on holding for three Succop field goal attempts. But once Smith and the rest of the offense stalled in the second half, that’s when Colquitt’s number was called.
Colquitt punted five times and though he only got credit for one inside the 20, on the four punts Cleveland returned or fair caught the Browns average starting position was at the 19.
On his second punt of the game, he punted to the Browns 19 yard line and though they managed a short return, a penalty put Cleveland back on the 10. Then on his next kick, again to the 19 and again with a small return, came as he drew a flag (that was declined) for running into the kicker.
Colquitt also delivered a 41 yard punt like a bullet that Davonne Bess muffed and the Chiefs recovered. Bess was scared enough on Colquitt’s next punt that he called for a fair catch at the 16 yard line despite a little room to work with around him.