KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs spotted the St. Louis Rams the game’s first seven points, and then slammed the door with 34 unanswered points en route to a 34-7 win.
Running back Knile Davis punctuated the victory with a 99-yard return for a touchdown to start the second half.
And Davis’ kick return came at a perfect time to energize a Chiefs team that for the most part had a sluggish first half en route to a 10-7 halftime lead.
“The return by special teams to start the second half was a big momentum shifter,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said during his postgame media session, “which helped us out tremendously.”
Rams coach Jeff Fisher echoed Reid.
“That was a key play,” Fisher told reporters during his postgame media session, “and that’s what they needed in this game. And we didn’t get that.”
Still, the Rams kept it close in the first half, holding the Chiefs offense to nine first downs and 117 total yards, including limiting running back Jamaal Charles to 14 yards rushing and a touchdown on eight carries.
Charles went on to finish the game with 73 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 13 carries, while quarterback Alex Smith completed an efficient 24-of-28 passes for 226 yards.
And the surge of production points back to Davis, who energized the Chiefs to score 24 second-half points and total 143 yards rushing in a dominating win.
“They were able to get too many rushing yards in the second half,” Rams safety T. J. McDonald said. “They came out and grabbed the momentum early in the second half with the kickoff return.”
Smith agreed, pointing out the how everything fell into place after Davis’ effort, including a dominating defensive performance that produced seven sacks and an interception on the game.
“Coming in at halftime and it’s still close,” Smith said, “come out to get a play like that out of special teams just completely changed the momentum of that game. It really felt like it just started to snowball. We felt like that kind of started it and it just snowballed from there.”’
For his part, Davis appeared happy his contribution led to the Chiefs special teams breaking through with a touchdown at an opportune time.
“This whole season we’ve been one or two blocks from getting it in the end zone,” Davis said. “It was good to see everybody execute. Right before we took it out, Coach was like, ‘Man, we’re overdue for one.’ We ended up busting one, so that was pretty neat.”
Davis also scored a rushing touchdown to go along with 49 yards rushing on 16 carries,
The Chiefs improved to 4-3 on the season, while the Rams dropped to 2-5.
The Chiefs recorded a season-high seven sacks against the Rams, led by outside linebacker Justin Houston, who recorded three sacks.
Rounding out the sacks are defensive end Allen Bailey with 1 1/2 sacks, defensive back Ron Parker had one, and defensive lineman Vance Walker, rookie linebacker Dee Ford and defensive end Jaye Howard each recorded 1/2 sacks.
Houston now has 10 sacks on the season, which ranks first in the NFL. But don’t expect the fourth-year pro to take all the accolades.
“It’s more a team effort,” Houston said. “Like today our DBs (defensive backs) did a great job covering. Between the DBs and linebackers, they gave us plenty of time to put pressure on the quarterback.”
Houston, who enters the final year of his contract, has been virtually unstoppable through seven games against any blockers.
“I just focus on me and what I can do,” he said. “I get the call in from the coach and then I just zone in on the tackle. I spend time in the film room studying the tackle’s weakness, so I try to use his weakness against him.”
ON A STREAK
Chiefs rookie kicker Cairo Santos is riding a hot streak, making eight consecutive field goals since starting the season 2-of-4 on field goal attempts.
His confidence received a boost in Week 7 with a 48-yard game-winning kick, and he showed his leg strength with a 53-yard effort Sunday against the Rams.
“It’s good to gain more confidence when you start making those long ones,” Santos said, “those pressure kicks. You start to gain more confidence and feel more comfortable. That even translated to the touchbacks today.”
Even more impressive with Santos’ career-long 53-yard effort is it wasn’t aided by the weather.
Instead, Santos kicked into the notorious Midwest winds.
“It was a good learning experience,” Santos said. “Even though it’s windy you can’t overthink it. You have to really trust your kick because the ball will move straight if you hit it solid.”
Santos finished the game 2-of-2 on field goals, making him 10-of-12 on the season.
Defensive back Ron Parker drew a fifth straight start in place of All-Pro strong safety Eric Berry, who continues to miss games with a high ankle sprain.
Parker recorded his first interception and sack on the season, and he said after the game playing at Arrowhead Stadium is special.
“I just like playing in front of the fans,” he said. “They’re just so wild and crazy. You can feel the electricity; they’re just loud. They make you want to go out there and play hard, and just have fun.”
The fourth-year pro finished the game with four tackles.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said cornerback Jamell Fleming and linebacker Josh Martin suffered hamstring injuries. Neither player finished the game.
“We’ll have to see how they do tomorrow (Monday),” Reid said.
The Chiefs (4-3) host the New York Jets (1-7) in Week 9 at Arrowhead Stadium.
The game airs at noon CT on CBS on Sunday, Nov. 2.