Chiefs score early, dominate Jaguars in 28-2 win
(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
By MARK LONG
AP Sports Writer
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) It was Kansas City's most lopsided season-opening victory in 50 years, a perfect start to the Andy Reid era.
Alex Smith threw two early touchdown passes, Kansas City's defense dominated all day and the Chiefs handled the Jacksonville Jaguars 28-2 on Sunday.
Jamaal Charles ran for 77 yards and a touchdown before leaving with a quadriceps injury, but that was about the only negative for guys in red.
"You want to win every game you possibly can in the National Football League, that's what you strive for. You work so stinking hard for every week, then you cherish it," said Reid, who spent the previous 14 years in Philadelphia.
The last time Kansas City won its opener by such a wide margin was 1963, a 59-7 victory against Denver.
This one looked like it was headed in that direction after Smith threw two TD passes in the first quarter, both with short fields.
He had a 5-yarder to Donnie Avery, a play that followed a 36-yard punt return by Dexter McCluster. Smith added a 3-yarder to backup tight end Junior Hemingway, which came two plays after Brandon Flowers intercepted Blaine Gabbert's badly underthrown deep pass. Flowers returned it 32 yards to give the Chiefs great field position.
"We could see this coming with our defense," Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said. "We want to put something on film and let everyone see that the Chiefs' defense is for real. ... Our defensive line dominated their offensive line; it's that simple."
Charles made it 21-2 with his 2-yard scamper in the second period. He left the game in the third - after getting sandwiched by linebackers Geno Hayes and Paul Posluszny - but returned for two carries before calling it a day in the fourth.
"He did go back in for a play after he got stepped on, then we pulled him out," Reid said. "It was a quad and you don't mess with those. I think he's going to be OK. He did a nice job. He gives us great versatility there. He ran the ball hard. I thought he played good football."
The defense was even better.
Not only did the Chiefs sack Gabbert six times and post a shutout, they allowed Jacksonville to advance beyond its 36-yard line just twice in 15 series.
"We've just got to be better up front. I'm going to say that," Jaguars center Brad Meester said. "We've got to do a better of creating holes and a better job of protecting for Blaine. We just didn't give him enough time back there. If we don't create holes and give him time, we're just not able to get first downs."
It was a stunning display of offensive futility for the rebuilding franchise. The Jaguars finished with 178 yards, but for most of the game challenged the team low of 117 yards set last year against Houston.
It wasn't even close to the start Bradley wanted, but it was a clear indication of how far the team has to go.
"Sometimes it takes time to find out our identity," Bradley said. "I know as a staff we're going to dig deep to find out the things that we do best and we'll emphasize those."
The Jaguars did little well Sunday.
Gabbert completed 16 of 35 passes for 121 yards and two interceptions, including one Tamba Hali returned for a touchdown and a 28-2 lead in the fourth quarter. Gabbert ran off the field in the closing minutes of the game with a laceration to his right hand. He needed 15 stiches after the game.
Chad Henne replaced him and led the Jaguars to the 3-yard line, but they failed to score.
Maurice Jones-Drew, playing his first real game since injuring his left foot last October, ran 15 times for 45 yards.
"We'll see how this year turns out," Jones-Drew said. "No year is the same. It's a loss. We didn't play well as an offense. I don't know as an offense if you can do much worse than we did today."
The most telling sign for Jacksonville: Bryan Anger set a franchise record with 11 punts.
"We can't punt that many times. It's too many," receiver Cecil Shorts III said. "The whole offense didn't do a good job and we need to improve on that."
Many outsiders had the Chiefs pegged as a team that could make a significant turnaround under Reid. Not only did they return four Pro Bowlers on defense, but the offense was supposed to be improved with Reid calling plays and Smith executing them.
Against Jacksonville, things were mostly smooth.
Notes: Chiefs played without starting RG Jon Asamoah. ... Chiefs RT Eric Fisher, the first pick in April's NFL draft, clearly outplayed Jaguars RT Luke Joeckel, the No. 2 pick. Reid praised Fisher after his debut. Jacksonville couldn't say the same about Joeckel, who had his hands full all game. ... Jaguars CB Dwayne Gratz bruised a shin, but should be fine.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
Updated September 8, 2013