As the snow swirled at FedEx Field and the rumors increased about the job security of Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, the Kansas City Chiefs broke their three-game losing streak in style with a 45-10 rout of the Redskins on Sunday.
Kansas City raced to a 31-point lead barely 20 minutes into the game.
A year after a 2-14 season that included linebacker Jovan Belcher's homicide/suicide, the Chiefs improved to 10-3 with three games left.
"It's tough to lose three (consecutive) games in the National Football League," said Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who was fired by the Philadelphia Eagles after last season following a successful 14-year run. "It seems like a year. For the guys to come back and rebound after that. ... I thought they did a heck of a job."
The reeling Redskins lost their fifth straight game to fall to 3-10, their fourth double-digit loss season in the last five years. It comes in the wake of a pregame report that Shanahan contemplated quitting last year because of his unhappiness with owner Dan Snyder even as Washington won the NFC East title in 2012.
"It's not the right time or place to talk about my relationship with Dan Snyder or the right time or place to talk about something that happened a year ago," Shanahan said. "I'll get a chance to talk to Dan at the end of the season. I'll give some viewpoints from me and I'm sure he'll give me his thoughts in what direction we'll go."
Kansas City averaged 13 yards on the game's first four plays. The last was a 13-yard burst by running back Jammal Charles (19 carries, 151 yards) to the Washington 15-yard line. The Redskins held from there, forcing Kansas City to settle for a 33-yard Ryan Succop field goal.
After the Redskins managed one first down, Sav Rocca's punt traveled just 33 yards. Dexter McCluster returned it 57 yards to the Washington 13 and then grabbed an 8-yard pass from quarterback Alex Smith (14 of 20 for 137 yards). The Chiefs caught a break when the officials failed to see the play clock expire on fourth-and-2. Charles picked up the first down and then scored from 2 yards out on the next play to make it 10-0 just 9:08 into the game.
Redskins running back Alfred Morris ran for a first down and wide receiver Santana Moss made a nifty sideline catch. However, Griffin threw his next pass to Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson, who raced 40 yards with the interception to the Washington 25. Three plays later, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe ran through the tackle attempts of cornerback DeAngelo Hall and safety Bacarri Rambo for a 21-yard touchdown catch. Kansas City led 17-0 with 1:11 left in the quarter.
The second quarter started in similar fashion as McCluster returned the punt 24 yards. Bowe made a sliding catch on the first play. Charles than carried twice for 17 yards before he scored on a 5-yard screen to expand the margin to 24-0. After a defensive touchdown was reversed by replay, McCluster raced 74 yards with another punt return for Kansas City's second touchdown in 1:42.
"I never had a day (like this) especially as a punt returner throughout my whole football career," said fourth-year man McCluster, who came in averaging 9.7 yards per punt return, fell just 30 yards shy of LeRoy Irvin's 32-year-old NFL record of 207 yards.
Washington broke the shutout on a 7-yard touchdown toss from Griffin (12 of 26 for 164 yards) to tight end Logan Paulsen with 1:07 left in the half, but Quintin Demps returned the subsequent kickoff 95 yards to make it 38-7. Washington's Kai Forbath kicked a 50-yard field goal at the end of the half. Chiefs rookie running back Knile Davis' 17-yard touchdown run with 13:37 remaining rounded out the scoring.
"I take full responsibility for this game," Shanahan said. "I didn't have the players ready to play. I thought they were ready. We were obviously horrendous on special teams, gave up big play after play, couldn't tackle on defense, offensively did a couple good things, (but) couldn't get anything going in the second half. ... They made us look pretty poor today."
--Chiefs LB Tamba Hali's sack of Redskins QB Robert Griffin III that started the second quarter was just the Chiefs' second in their last five games. They recorded two more sacks on Washington's next four plays and finished with six.
--The 35-point margin of victory was Kansas City's biggest since a 41-0 victory over San Francisco in week 4 of 2006. Kirk Cousins relieved Griffin during the fourth quarter.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's gratifying to be able to turn it around like that with coach (Andy) Reid coming in and just creating a (winning) culture for the guys." -- Linebacker Tamba Hali.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
What we learned
--The three-game slide might have been more of a case of Kansas City facing the powerhouse Denver Broncos twice in three weeks than a serious reversal from the 9-0 start. The Chiefs dominated the Redskins in all three phases (offensive, defense and special teams) heading into a game at the lowly Oakland Raiders next week.
--Kansas City can mount a pass rush without injured sacks leader Justin Houston. Fellow outside linebacker Tamba Hali's two sacks tied him with Houston for the team lead with 11. Defensive end Tyson Jackson also had two while Houston's replacement, Frank Zombo, and safety Eric Berry each had one as the Chiefs doubled their total from the previous six games.
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