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September 29, 2013

Chiefs report card vs. Giants

Key plays, stats and grades for the Chiefs in their 31-7 win over the New York Giants on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

First quarter

Key play: The Giants dealt the Chiefs’ special teams a scare when Damontre Moore collided with punter Dustin Colquitt. Colquitt toughed it out and stayed in the game, however, eliminating any potential issues.

Key stat: Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson was all over the field, racking up four of the team’s six tackles in the quarter.

Second quarter

Key play: With the score tied at 7-7, the Chiefs seemed to be ready to seize the momentum after they recovered a fumble in Giants territory. However, they blew the chance by muffing a shotgun snap two plays later, and while it didn’t result in any points, it was the first turnover committed by the Chiefs all season.

Key stat: The Giants only converted 1 of 6 third-down opportunities, while the Chiefs converted 5 of 9 third-down chances.

Third quarter

Key play: Dexter McCluster’s darting, dynamic 89-yard punt return gave the Chiefs a 17-7 lead and some much need breathing room.

Key stat: After committing zero turnovers over the first three games, the Chiefs three through three quarters.

Fourth quarter

Key play: The Chiefs were lining up for a 53-yard field goal when the Giants bailed them out with a formation penalty that not only gave the Chiefs a first down, but also helped them take more time off the clock and ice the game with a touchdown.

Key stat: The Giants have now lost three straight games by 18 points or more.

Player of the game: McCluster. His 89-yard punt return for a touchdown was a mammoth moment in a game that felt in doubt at that point.

Reason to hope: The Chiefs are 4-0 for the first time since 2003. After last year’s 2-14 debacle, you can’t ask for a better start than doubling your previous year’s win total only a fourth of the way into the new season.

Reason to mope: The turnovers would have gotten the Chiefs beat against a better team. And you have to wonder if the lack of a vertical passing game will come back to bite them at some point.

Looking ahead: The Chiefs will take to the road to face Tennessee this week in what amounts to their only road game the entire month of October. After their matchup with the Titans, the Chiefs will host Oakland, Houston and Cleveland at Arrowhead Stadium in successive weeks.

| Terez A. Paylor,

Report card

C Rushing offense The Giants’ physical defensive front limited running back Jamaal Charles to 65 yards on 18 carries. Quarterback Alex Smith supplemented Charles with 37 yards on 7 carries, but the production still wasn’t quite where you would like it to be.
B- Passing offense Smith did a nice job avoiding mistakes in the first half, as he repeatedly found the open man and scrambled to evade the oncoming pass rush. But he also threw two interceptions, which hurt the unit’s productivity, as a whole.
A- Rushing defense The Giants rushed for 98 yards on 21 carries and never settled into a groove against the Chiefs’ aggressive front seven, despite a respectable 4.7 yards-per-carry average.
B+ Passing defense Aside from a big 69-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Eli Manning to Victor Cruz, the Chiefs’ pass defense was on point. The front seven harassed Manning all game and several members of the secondary made plays in coverage.
B Special teams The Chiefs nearly had a punt blocked, which also resulted in a leg injury for punter Dustin Colquitt. But an otherwise solid all-around day, which was highlighted by McCluser’s big return, more than made up for it.
B+ Coaching The Chiefs bottled up the run and forced Eli Manning to stand in against their strong rush and beat them through the air. That’s a sound strategy, as is their insistence on playing to Smith’s strengths with short throws and lots of quick reads. Coach Andy Reid also gets bonus points for challenging a bad spot on a crucial third-down conversion by the Giants, which was overturned and promptly followed by McCluster’s game-breaking punt return.

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