KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Let’s throw an addendum to the old football adage, shall we? Defense, the run game and special teams always travel well.
And, as of late, so does Alex Smith.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ veteran quarterback put together arguably his best game of the young season in a 34-15 win at Miami last Sunday, completing 19 of 25 throws and tossing three scores — two to scatback Joe McKnight. But what might be more remarkable is what those numbers did to his overall home/road splits over his first year-and-a-fifth with coach Andy Reid:
Away games: 14 touchdowns, one pick.
Home games: 13 scores, nine picks.
Games are circumstantial and unique unto themselves, but the collective stats paint an interesting little picture. Do Smith and Reid keep things simpler on the road, given the crowd noise and environments, stressing the run game first? Or have there been more leads to work from, as was the case against the Dolphins? Does No. 11 simply try to force too many things in front of the Arrowhead Stadium faithful?
Maybe it’s a coincidence. Maybe the sample size is too small. Regardless, after the first two weeks, Chiefs fans will take it just the same …
THREE LINGERING QUESTIONS FROM CHIEFS 34, DOLPHINS 15
:03 … You know what? I didn’t notice Ron Parker at safety in place of Eric Berry. That’s a good thing, right?
Absolutely. The Dolphins recorded at least four plays of 15 yards or more in the first quarter-and-a-half, but none of those “explosion” moments amounted to points. The Chiefs’ secondary easily had its best game, as a unit, this month, and Parker held the fort admirably in place of Berry, who was scratched because of an ankle injury suffered in Week 2 at Denver.
The defensive back out of Newberry was credited with two tackles but also contributed to one of the worst days as a pro for Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who completed just 21 of 43 attempts for 205 yards, only his second game with a sub-50 percent conversion rate in the last 19 tilts and his first such dud since a 10-for-27 day in chilly Buffalo last Dec. 27. Tannehill’s top target, Mike Wallace, snatched a team-high five balls for 74 yards, but those numbers came on 12 targets and he was kept out of the end zone all afternoon.
Cornerback Sean Smith (three tackles) was an absolute pest on the perimeter, and the defensive front flashed its early 2013 form to set the tone, with Tamba Hali (one sack, a fumble forced), Justin Houston (one sack), Dontari Poe (four tackles, 1 1/2 sacks) and even Dee Ford all taking turns collapsing the pocket. So it was, as they say, a team effort.
:02 … Should I feel good or lousy about the special teams?
Oh, what the hell. Both?
The good: Veteran punter Dustin Colquitt was asked to bail the offense out early and did (two pins inside the Miami 20); rookie kicker Cairo Santos wasn’t forced into many high-leverage situations (4 for 4 on extra points, no field-goal attempts); and Frankie Hammond’s 47-yard punt return in the fourth quarter helped set up a critical touchdown that pushed the visitors’ lead to 27-15.
The bad: The kickoff coverage in general, where rookie Phillip Gaines needed every decimal of his reported 4.3 speed to bring down Miami rookie Jarvis Landry and keep a 74-yard runback in the third from becoming a quick six. And it was a little tackle that became a big one, too. The hosts, down 21-10, started that drive on the Kansas City 33, but the Andy Gang would wind up holding Miami firm, forcing a 51-yard field goal by Caleb Sturgis.
:01 … Travis Kelce should pretty much be starting all the time, shouldn’t he?
At this point, it sort of goes without saying, doesn’t it? The second-year tight end out of the University of Cincinnati, forced to sit out all but one game of the 2013 regular season with knee issues, was — again — a threat to take it to the house nearly every time he touched the ball. One of the Ohio native’s catches resulted in a nifty almost-hurdle of Miami cornerback Cortland Finnegan; another was on a drag route that ended with a dive to the pylon and a 20-yard score.
The 6-foot-5 Kelce showed flashes as a blocker, too, helping to seal off a nice hole on a couple of occasions for tailback Knile Davis. The Chiefs ran for a season-best 171 yards on 41 carries, and Reid’s use of a two tight-end base, with Anthony Fasano and Kelce both on the field, showcased both men’s size, power and hands. Reid and Alex Smith love to expose linebackers and safeties with a quick tight end, making Kelce — who reportedly ran a 4.6-ish 40 at his spring 2013 pro day — a perfect foil for an offense that’s finally starting to find its feet.
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