The Kansas City Chiefs can make a case for two players in the race for league MVP through the first five games of the season, and both quarterback Alex Smith and Kareem Hunt kept their hot streaks in tact during the team’s 42-34 win at the Houston Texans, extending their unbeaten start to 5-0.
“It’s a great feeling,” Hunt told reporters after the game. “I love winning and the biggest thing is to get a win.”
Smith finished 29-of-37 passing for 324 yards with three touchdowns while Hunt put together his busiest game of the season, rushing 29 times for 107 yards and catching three passes for 9 yards.
The 13-year veteran is off the hottest start of his career, ranking among the top three in the league in passing yards and touchdown. His 125.8 quarterback rating far outpaces New England’s Tom Brady, who ranks second with a 112.0 rating.
Head coach Andy Reid said he does not believe Smith is playing any differently than years past but acknowledges he’s having more success.
“Alex is playing similar to how he’s played before,” Reid said. “The results are a bit different. It seems like he’s more in tune, and the receivers are more in tune with their games with one another.”
The success Smith is having this season, Reid argues, is a culmination of the work Smith performed the last four seasons in building chemistry with his young receiving corps.
“All of these kids he kind of raised,” Smith said. “He knows about every move they’ve got. They like playing with him, and they know every move he’s going to make. It’s kind of a good marriage right there. It’s a good situation he’s in with these receivers.”
Smith said confidence marks the biggest different between this team and his last four years in Kansas City.
“I think we’ve had flashes in year’s past and I think we’ve had a good stretch week to week,” Smith said. “I think we have a confidence about us that even when we do get little spills and things don’t go our way, we still can find a way to go back to being us. We can figure it out.”
Smith saved his best for third down against the Texans. The Chiefs converted nine of 16 third-down attempts while picking up 29 first downs overall. Smith picked up eight first downs through the air on third down, completing nine of 12 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown for a 139.9 quarterback rating on third down.
“I thought we had a lot of good stuff, a lot of favorable match-ups we felt really good about all over the field,” Smith said. “Felt like everybody had a hand in it on a lot of those third downs.”
While Smith helped the Chiefs move the ball early, Hunt struggled finding running room against a tenacious Texans run defense. But the rookie continue to show a tendency to gain strength as the game progresses. Hunt picked up just 25 yards on 14 carries in the first half, but rumbled for 82 yards on 15 carries in the second.
“Hunt just continues to stay strong in the fourth quarter,” Reid said. “He has got ball carrying endurance. I don’t know how else to explain it other than that. For a big guy, he can skedaddle late in the games and did a nice job.”
Hunt said he didn’t try to make any serious adjustments at halftime.
“You know, just don’t try and do too much,” Hunt said. “Just keep doing what I do and just come out and play and just keep feeling the game out.”