(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
The NFL season kicked off tonight with a rematch of last years’ AFC divisional playoff game between the Houston Texans and the defending Super Bowl champions in the Kansas City Chiefs. With a limited number of fans in attendance, the Chiefs unveiled their Super Bowl championship banner and came together with the Texans for a moment of unity during the pregame.
Without a preseason, the game was expected to start slow, which it did as both teams traded punts to start the game. Patrick Mahomes supposedly found Demarcus Robinson for a touchdown but upon review, Robinson dropped it and the touchdown came off the board. After a Jacob Martin sack, the Chiefs punted the ball away.
This is when David Johnson, the running back the Texans acquired in the controversial DeAndre Hopkins trade, set out to prove the naysayers wrong. Johnson gained 42 yards on the drive and scored the first touchdown of the 2020 NFL season on a nice 19-yard cutback run to give the Texans a 7-0 lead.
In the previous meeting, the Texans blew a 24-0 lead in the second quarter and trailed at halftime. While the lead this time around was much smaller, it was more of the same for the Chiefs. The defending champions responded with a 11-play 75-yard touchdown drive as Mahomes found Travis Kelce for the touchdown.
After another Texans’ punt, the Chiefs put on an offensive clinic. They marched 91 yards down the field in 9:04 on 16 plays. The Chiefs found the endzone on a Sammy Watkins’ tunnel screen.
The Texans were on the wrong end of a six-point swing as Texans’ kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn missed a field goal with 25 seconds left. Kansas City capitalized and Harrison Butker kicked a field goal of his own to give the Chiefs a 17-7 halftime lead.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the Chiefs’ rookie running back from LSU, thrust himself into the NFL spotlight with an incredible shifty 27-yard touchdown run to give the Chiefs a 24-7 lead. Edwards-Helaire became the first running back in NFL history to rush for over 100 yards in his debut with the defending Super Bowl champions as he rushed for 138 yards.
Any hope for a Texans comeback were dashed when Tyrann Mathieu hit Deshaun Watson’s arm and the ball floated into the arms of rookie safety L’Jarius Sneed for an interception. Mahomes hit Tyreek Hill for his third touchdown pass of the night, putting the Texans away. The Chiefs held the lead and won 34-20 as they have outscored the Texans 85-27 since trailing 24-0 in January.
For the Texans, Watson finished with a 84.5 quarterback rating compared to Mahomes’ 123.3. Watching the game, it was clear the Texans struggled to get a rhythm in the passing attack while the game as in doubt. While David Johnson looked promising with 77 yards, it doesn’t compare to the void Hopkins, arguably the best receiver in the NFL, leaves. There are no big outside targets for Watson and he struggled to find a groove with his receivers. While its only Week 1, the Texans need to work on this issue as they head to Baltimore next week or they will find themselves at 0-2 decisively.
For the Chiefs, they already won a Super Bowl with the same receiving corp. Now, they have a dangerous weapon in the backline, adding another element and dimension to their offense. If Edwards-Helaire continues to put up this level of production, good luck beating this team.
Houston heads to Baltimore next Sunday while the Chiefs head to Los Angeles next Sunday for the home opener of the Los Angeles Chargers in the new SoFi Stadium.