After 22 years without a playoff victory, the Kansas City Chiefs secured this one early thanks to a touchdown off the opening kickoff and a harassing defense that forced five turnovers and shut out the Houston Texans Saturday.
Alex Smith and the Kansas City offense was effective, if not explosive, while Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer had the worst game of his career and was booed most of the afternoon in a 30-0 loss in the wild-card round of the NFL playoffs. Houston lost J.J. Watt to an injury in the third quarter and Jadeveon Clowney never even put on his jersey.
The Chiefs extended their NFL-best winning streak to 11 games and will face Denver or New England next week.
On the opening kickoff, Knile Davis got three good blocks around the 10-yard line and then simply outran the rest of the defenders for the 106-yard kickoff return score, the second-longest kickoff return TD in postseason history.
The defense took over after that, forcing Hoyer into a fumble and a three of his career-high four interceptions before halftime to help the Chiefs (12-5) take a 13-0 lead.
Smith threw a touchdown pass late in the third and Spencer Ware added a 5-yard TD run on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 27-0.
The victory breaks a streak of eight straight playoff losses by the Chiefs and is their first postseason win since beating the Oilers in Houston on Jan. 16, 1994.
Hoyer was 15 of 34 for 136 yards as Houston (9-8) lost a home playoff game for the first time.
Travis Kelce, who also had more than 100 yards receiving in the first meeting with the Texans this year, had another big day, finishing with eight receptions for 128 yards.
Watt missed most of the second half after injuring his groin in the third quarter. Last year’s Defensive Player of the Year and the NFL sack leader didn’t have a sack on Saturday as Houston’s defense played well but couldn’t hold off an offense that got so many extra chances because of Hoyer’s terrible day.
Watt injured his groin midway through the third quarter. He returned after a few plays, but soon left the game again when he was pushed to the ground by the head by tackle Eric Fisher. Kansas City receiver Jeremy Maclin injured his right knee on the same play and didn’t return.
The Chiefs capped that drive when Smith found rookie Chris Conley in the back of the end zone for 9-yard touchdown that extended the lead to 20-0.
Houston defensive end Jared Crick got a personal foul late in the third quarter when he hit Fisher after a play, in an apparent retaliation for the Watt hit.
Hoyer threw an interception to Eric Berry with about seven minutes left in the first quarter. It didn’t matter though as two plays later Kareem Jackson deflected a pass by Smith and it was intercepted by Brian Cushing to give Houston the ball right back.
The Texans were driving after the interception when Hoyer was sacked by Allen Bailey and he fumbled. Dontari Poe recovered it at the Kansas City 42 for the Chiefs and they extended their lead to 10-0 on a 49-yard field goal on the ensuing drive.
Trailing 13-0, a 49-yard run by Alfred Blue got Houston to the Kansas City 13. The Texans got a first down at the 2 and Watt and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork came in on offense, with Watt lined up as the wildcat quarterback and Wilfork blocking. Watt took the direct snap but had nowhere to go and lost a yard on his first career carry. Hoyer was intercepted on the next play by Josh Mauga.
Hoyer had also struggled against the Chiefs in the season opener, being benched in the fourth quarter of a 27-20 loss.
The Texans won the AFC South to reach the postseason for the third time in franchise history and first since 2012.
Clowney, the top overall pick in the 2014 draft, was inactive with a foot injury.