NFL Team Report - Kansas City Chiefs - INSIDE SLANT
If the Kansas City Chiefs didn't already understand the attitude opponents will have toward them as an elite team, the Cleveland Browns reminded them Sunday.
The NFL's only unbeaten record at midseason, the Chiefs are like a runaway criminal facing bounty hunters every week. They were still able to push their record to 8-0 on the season with a 23-17 victory over the Browns.
It was easily the toughest game of the first eight for the Chiefs.
"We are going to get everybody's best game from here on out," Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali said. "That's a good football team that we beat today. We've been in their shoes where you have a team that's better than the record shows. We've done that."
The Browns are 3-5, but they were a factor in the game until late in the fourth quarter when a fumbled punt return by wide receiver Davone Bess was recovered by the Chiefs and helped set up a late Kansas City field goal that finalized the game.
The Chiefs' defense controlled the Cleveland running game, but the Browns new starting quarterback, Jason Campbell, overcame a slow start and was able to hit some big passing plays. Campbell threw for 293 years and a pair of touchdown passes, and he kept several possessions alive with his legs as he ran for 17 yards on three plays.
The Chiefs' offense performed well in the first half, dominating the ball and putting 20 points on the board. But in the second half they managed just 50 offensive yards on 24 plays. Cleveland turned up the pass rush pressure on quarterback Alex Smith, sacking him six times in all, with five of those coming in the second half.
"The first half everything was pretty smooth and working," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "Then came the second half ... this one was awfully close, but the guys battled. I mean what hearts they have."
The Chiefs' offense dominated possession in the first half, holding the ball for 22:46. They produced 20 points on a pair of touchdown passes by Smith and two Ryan Succop field goals.
Those 3-pointers came from 42 and 35 yards and it was early in the second quarter when the Chiefs scored the game's first touchdown at the end of a 14-play, 82-yard drive that ate up 7:34 on the clock. The big play was a 23-yard scrambling run by Smith on a third-and-5 at the Browns 35-yard line. Three plays later he threw a screen pass to fullback Anthony Sherman, who scored on the 12-yard play. The PAT kick gave the Chiefs a 13-0 lead.
"That's a good defense they have," said running back Jamaal Charles, who finished with 119 yards of offense. "They are good and they are fast and they were able to do some things against us and we didn't get the job done."
"So many games in the NFL are won by seven points or less," Reid said. "You work hard during training camp, so you're mentally strong to be able to handle things like this."
NFL Team Report - Kansas City Chiefs - NOTES, QUOTES
RB Jamaal Charles missed a third-quarter possession with a bruised knee, but returned the next time Kansas City had the ball.
Next up for the Chiefs is a trip to Buffalo to face the Bills.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "No matter what's pitched at us, what's thrown at us and they gave us their best show, we always feel like we can withstand the blow and that we can come out there and win." -- Free safety Kendrick Lewis.
NFL Team Report - Kansas City Chiefs - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
What we learned:
The Chiefs got big plays from a couple of players largely unknown to football fans around the country. It was fullback Anthony Sherman that scored the game's first touchdown, a 12-yard screen pass that was his first NFL touchdown.
"I've been waiting for that one," Sherman said. "I'm sending the ball to my Mom. She knows it's coming, because I told her if it happened the ball was hers."
In the fourth quarter, the Chiefs recovered a fumbled punt by the Browns and it was outside linebacker Frank Zombo that came up with the ball in the pile.
--Poor pass protection is making life difficult for Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. He went down six times against Cleveland and that's now 24 sacks on the season.
Rookie right tackle Eric Fisher has struggled at times, but against the Browns, every player on the offensive line appeared to struggle, including left tackle Branden Albert, who was beaten on a speed rush by Cleveland's rookie linebacker Barkevious Mingo.