Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs-Texans halftime: TD catch by Tyreek Hill builds early lead but Chiefs trail

Welcome back, Tyreek Hill.

After missing the past four games with a shoulder injury, Hill returned to the lineup and the Chiefs tried to get their star wide receiver involved immediately. Their first play was a deep ball from Patrick Mahomes that didn’t find its target when Mahomes’ arm was hit making the throw.

But the duo made their next connection count. From the Texans’ 46, the Chiefs were gifted a free play with an offsides penalty.

They took full advantage. Hill streaked toward the goal line and Mahomes sent it his way. Hill went up between safety Justin Reid and cornerback Phillip Gaines and made the catch. He stretched the ball over the goal line for his first touchdown of the season.

Disaster finish for Chiefs

The Chiefs looked like they would take a one-point lead into halftime after safety Juan Thornhill picked off Deshaun Watson’s fourth-and-1 pass in the end zone. But with 32 seconds remaining, the Chiefs decided to continue to score.

On the first play of the ensuing series, Mahomes was sacked and lost the ball. The Texans’ Benardrick McKinney recovered at the 3.

Watson ran it in from the 3 and the Texans held a 23-17 lead at halftime. Houston will get the ball to begin the second half.

Short, effective passes. Then Mahomes picked

Screens and short routes helped the short-handed offensive line protect Mahomes against the likes of J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus.

The Chiefs’ second touchdown, a 14-yard reception by running back Damien Williams, was a screen. Coming up with one of the big blocks on the play was left guard Martinas Rankin, the former Houston Texan who was starting in place of injured Andrew Wylie.

But the pressure eventually cost Mahomes and the Chiefs. Under a heavy Texans rush, Mahomes was intercepted for the first time this season. Safety Tashaun Gipson ran under a Mahomes overthrow in the end zone to halt a scoring drive.

Pass interference on cornerback Lonnie Johnson originally was called on the play but the officials picked up the flag.

A defensive stop

The Chiefs’ defense came up with a big play on the Texans’ first snap.

Frank Clark stripped former Chiefs running back Carlos Hyde and recovered the fumble to set up the Chiefs at the Houston 18. The drive ended in a Harrison Butker field goal.

Injuries mean several new faces

The game started with new faces in the Chiefs’ lineup.

Rankin, who came to the Chiefs from the Texans in the Carlos Hyde trade, started at left guard in place of injured Wylie. Rankin appeared in all 16 games with four starts for the Texans last season. Rankin was a 2018 third-round pick from Mississippi State.

Offensive lineman Nick Allegretti, the Chiefs’ seventh-round pick from Illinois, was active for the first time this season.

Khalen Saunders, the Chiefs’ third-round pick from Western Illinois, made his first start this season a week after making his NFL debut.

The Chiefs lost both of their starting defensive tackles, Chris Jones and Xavier Williams, to injuries last week. Derrick Nnadi was the other starting defensive tackle.

Second-year Chiefs linebacker Ben Niemann got the second start of his career in place of the injured Anthony Hitchens.

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