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Chiefs-Giants: What we learned

The SportsXchange

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs beat the New York Giants 31-7 and pushed their record for the young season to 4-0. It is only the third time in franchise history that the team has started the season with four victories.

The Giants are 0-4, the first time that has happened since the 1987 season.

"I know what their record is, but I also know they have good coaches and good players," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "As far as our team, we overcame three turnovers with three takeaways. The defense played well."

Late in the third quarter, the Chiefs held a 10-7 lead and the Giants faced a third down-and-17 at their 14-yard line. Quarterback Eli Manning found his favorite target on the day, completing a pass to wide receiver Victor Cruz that was marked down as a 17-yard completion and a first down for New York.

But television replay showed that Cruz's knee hit the ground at 16 yards out, or about a half-yard short of the first-down marker. Reid threw the red challenge flag and the officials reviewed and agreed with his assessment, changing placement of the ball behind the first-down marker.

"My guys upstairs did a nice job with that," Reid said of his staff in the coaching box high above the field. They told me to challenge the placement. "That was a pretty big challenge and they were very accurate with what they saw."

Facing a fourth-and-1, the Giants sent their punt team on the field and that is when the game all but came to an end, as Steve Weatherford hit a 59-yard punt to the Chiefs 11-yard line. Kansas City punt returner Dexter McCluster caught the ball, ran to his left, cut back toward the center of the field and went 89 yards for a touchdown. The PAT kick gave the Chiefs a 17-7 lead and control of the game.

What the Giants said

"Our inability to do anything with the ball in the second half was just ... there's no excuse for that. That's poor, that's extremely poor." -- Coach Tom Coughlin.

What the Chiefs said

"The thing that's so encouraging is we are 4-0 and we haven't played our best football. We are still making too many mistakes and not taking advantage of opportunities that come our way. We can be so much better than that." -- Tight end Sean McGrath.

What we learned about the Giants

1. The only positive on the offensive side of the football was wide receiver Victor Cruz, who caught 10 passes for 164 yards, including the only New York touchdown of the game on a 69-yard play. Of the Giants' 10 longest plays of the game, Cruz was on the receiving end of six, producing 141 of his receiving yards. The negative for the Giants is that only 60 of those yards came in the second half.

2. The Giants' punt team was again dented for a touchdown, the second it has given up in four games. Dexter McCluster's 89-yard score for Kansas City was even longer than the 81-yard return the Giants allowed in the second game to Denver's Trindon Holliday. The Giants are last in the NFL in punt coverage, allowing an average return of 22.1 yards.

What we learend about the Chiefs

1. The Chiefs are 4-0 and they have done it without really getting their running game in gear. Against the Giants, they ran for 102 yards on 28 carries. What they've been able to do is get yards in the fourth quarter to protect leads. They had 48 yards in the first three quarters, but then ran for 54 yards in the fourth quarter. Running back Jamaal Charles continues to make his mark as a receiver, catching five passes for 62 yards and a touchdown against New York.

2. Outside linebacker Justin Houston went from getting 4.5 sacks against the Philadelphia Eagles to being shut out by the Giants. Despite New York having 40 passing plays, Houston never laid a hand on quarterback Eli Manning. Maybe the attention Houston got helped open things up for the outside linebacker on the other side of the field, Tamba Hali, who had two sacks in the game.
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