The League’s “Sacko Bowl” came to life on Sunday morning with a matchup between the worst in the NFC, the Detroit Lions, and one of the worst in the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs, in the NFL International Series in London.
Both teams entered the game with a combined 3-11 record.
The Chiefs proved to be much better, dominating the Lions (1-7), 45-10, and improved to 3-5 with much needed momentum entering the bye week on a two-game winning streak.
For the first time of the season, there were many more good things than rough things. Here’s a snippet of both.
• No Jamaal Charles? No problem. Quarterback Alex Smith took it upon himself to be one of Kansas City’s best rushers on the day. Early in the second quarter, Smith was out of options and had room to run. He ran right through the gaping hole left by the Detroit defense for a gain of 49 yards. That run was the longest of his NFL career.
On the same drive, Smith did it again on third-and-10 in the red zone after tight end Demetrius Harris and running back Charcandrick West both dropped consecutive passes. Smith channelled his college days at Utah, scrambling into the end zone on a 12-yard dash to put the Chiefs up 14-3.
Smith ended the day with 78 yards rushing and the touchdown on five attempts.
• Not only did the Chiefs command the run game, the effort through the air was impressive as well. Smith turned in an efficient day, completing 18 of 26 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns, good for a 108.7 passer rating. His touchdown passes went to tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.threw for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Those touchdowns went to tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. He also
• Kansas City’s rushing game blossomed under the leadership of Smith. Four different Chiefs, including Smith, racked up a rushing touchdown. Three of those came in the first half. Wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas found the end zone first off a 10-yard run in the first quarter. Smith’s rush followed. West, who finished 3 yards shy of a second straight 100-yard rushing effort, finished out the first half for Kansas City with an 8-yard run to the pay dirt.
In the second half, running back Spencer Ware burst in the end zone on a 4-yard run, elevating the score to 45-10.
• The defense tore apart Detroit quarterback Matt Stafford. Six different Chiefs sacked Stafford for a total of six sacks and it would have been seven if the Chiefs didn’t accept a Detroit penalty.
Defensive back Ron Parker sacked Stafford on Detroit’s first drive of the game. Parker’s sack pushed Stafford and the Lions offense from second-and-6 to third-and-10, eventually forcing a field goal, the only points in the first half for Detroit.
Inside linebacker Derrick Johnson came in clutch on the Lions’ second offensive drive. Detroit was facing third-and-7. Johnson singlehandedly ended that drive, bringing down Detroit quarterback Matt Stafford with authority for a loss of 7 yards. The sack was Johnson’s second of the season and brought him to 24 1/2 sacks on his career.
The next three sacks came on back-to-back-to-back plays on Detroit’s final drive of the first half.
Parker, linebacker Tamba Hali and defensive tackle Dontari Poe provided the sack trio to end Detroit’s first half.
Parker’s sack was the third of his career and the first of the season. Hali’s sack was negated by a Detroit penalty that the Chiefs accepted, but it still proved a point to the Lions. Poe’s sack brought him to 11 1/2 sacks over his career and marked his first of the 2015 season.
Linebacker Justin Houston got to Stafford as the clock ticked down in the third quarter. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Houston brought down Stafford again, with the help of Hali. His sacks marked No. 6 1/2 of the season and was the 54th on his career.
• Not only was Stafford sacked a plethora of times, he was picked of twice too. Cornerback Sean Smith and Houston both came up with interceptions. Smith’s interception was his first of the season and the ninth of his career. Houston’s interception was his first since 2012 and the second of his career.
• The offensive line made a lot of progress, but giving up three sacks in the game still registers as a low. Smith has been sacked 28 times this season. He’s on pace to be sacked 56 times on the year, a mark that would put him No. 14 all-time. Last season, Smith was sacked 45 times, the most in a season of his career. Outside of sacks, Smith was hit four more times.
• Offensive lineman Donald Stephenson has fallen off the face of the earth. Stephenson was the starting left tackle before being supplanted in the lineup in Week 7. With starting left guard Ben Grubbs out with a neck injury, the Chiefs reshuffled the offensive line and it didn’t include Stephenson. Jeff Allen moved from right tackle to left guard, while Jah Reid, who was a healthy inactive the past five games, got the start at right tackle.