KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For the Kansas City Chiefs, an unexpectedly stellar season continued Sunday.
For the Houston Texans, Sunday was another day when they could not live up to their preseason expectations of being a Super Bowl contender.
In front of 74,118 fans at Arrowhead Stadium, the Chiefs pushed their record to 7-0 with a 17-16 victory over the Texans. Houston (2-5) lost its fifth consecutive game.
The Texans didn't go down without a fight, as the outcome was in doubt until the Chiefs forced and recovered a fumble with 1:34 remaining.
"I know what their record is," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "We also know the quality of the coaching and the quality of the players that they have. This was a good one for us."
The Chiefs received contributions from all three phases of their team, but they couldn't put any two together at one time. The offense had a good first half but struggled in the second half, finishing with 357 total yards and rushing touchdowns from running back Jamaal Charles and quarterback Alex Smith. The defense started slowly, then turned up the heat in the second half and finished the game with five sacks, half of those from outside linebacker Tamba Hali.
Hali's final sack forced the fumble from Houston quarterback Case Keenum. Derrick Johnson recovered to seal the win.
The Texans had a painful day. They lost running back Arian Foster in the first quarter when he re-injured a hamstring he was nursing for several weeks. In the third quarter, linebacker Brian Cushing left with a left knee injury, and he was helped from the field by two trainers.
Speaking after the game outside the Texans locker room, team owner Robert McNair said it was a serious injury. On crutches in the locker room, Cushing would not speak to reporters, saying he wanted to get MRI results first. It was the same knee on which he suffered a torn ACL that ended his season last year.
Houston's starting quarterback, Matt Schaub, was inactive for the game because of a leg injury, so Keenum got his first chance to play in a regular-season NFL game.
Keenum did not display any jitters, completing 15 of 25 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown. He also was careful with the ball all day. His only turnover was the game-clinching fumble.
"I'm really disappointed and frustrated," Keenum said after the game. "We put our offense in a position to go down and win the game, and we didn't. I didn't make the plays there at the end."
Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles had 86 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. Smith went 23-for-34 for 240 yards with one interception.
What the Chiefs said
"I think you can put pressure on our defense. We look forward to it. No team has scored more than 17 points on us this season. If you have confidence in us -- and that starts with Andy Reid -- that's what we want. Put the pressure on us. We love it." -- Linebacker Derrick Johnson.
What the Texans said
"I thought we fought very, very hard. In the second half especially, this defense started to feel like the old defense, the defense we know and love. If you are looking for a positive, that is definitely a positive." -- Defensive end J.J. Watt.
What we learned about the Chiefs
1. Late last week, the NFL took away one of Tamba Hali's sacks from the Oct. 13 game against Oakland. League statisticians ruled that Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor was involved in a running play when Hali tackled him. That dropped Hali's sack total for the game to 2.5. He added another 2.5 sacks Sunday against Texans quarterback Case Keenum. "Early in the game, we had problems with them and they were running the ball," Hali said. "In the fourth quarter, they were forced to throw, and that's when we were able to turn up the heat." The Chiefs now have 35 sacks on the season, and Hali has nine of those.
2. There were more opportunities on offense against Houston for Dexter McCluster than he saw in any other game this season. He carried the ball twice for 4 yards and caught four of the five passes thrown at him for 70 yards. In the first six games he had only 14 touches on offense. "It's always good to be involved in any way possible," McCluster said. "It just kind of worked out, and I hope it keeps working out. We won, and I got to make a bigger contribution. That's sweet." After seven games, he has 20 offensive touches for 191 yards.
What we learned about the Texans
1. It was a very difficult weekend for defensive coordinator Wade Phillips for more reasons than the outcome of the game. His father O.A. "Bum" Phillips died Friday evening at his home in Goliad, Texas. He was 90 years old. Bum Phillips was the head coach for the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints for 11 seasons. "He was my hero; he's why I'm a football coach," Wade Phillips said after the game. "He coached me in high school, he coached me in college, and I had the chance to work with him for 11 years in the NFL. I will always treasure that time."
2. Even with inexperienced quarterback Case Keenum guiding the offense, the Texans took of the Chiefs playing man-to-man coverage all day. Keenum hit long plays to wide receivers Andre Johnson (42 and 26 yards), DeVier Posey (42 yards) and DeAndre Hopkins (35 and 29 yards) and tight end Garrett Graham (27 yards). "Our receivers did a great job of getting open all afternoon," Keenum said. "They gave me a chance to make some plays."