Patrick Mahomes threw for 211 yards and three touchdowns, Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran through the rain for 138 yards and another score, and the Kansas City Chiefs began defense of their first championship in 50 years by beating the Houston Texans 34-20 on Thursday night before a socially-distanced crowd of 15,895 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill each caught TD passes for the Chiefs, who have won 10 straight dating to last season. That run includes a come-from-behind 51-31 victory over the Texans in the divisional round of the playoffs.
The Texans’ Deshaun Watson threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score, but he also was under relentless pressure and was intercepted once. David Johnson provided the biggest bright spot for Houston, running for 77 yards and a score.
The Texans, who blew a 24-point lead against Kansas City in the the playoffs, struck first when they marched 80 yards for a touchdown. The elusive Johnson finished it off by scampering 19 yards to the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
But the Chiefs tied it moments later when Mahomes threw a short touchdown pass to Kelce, then took the lead when they forced a quick punt and Mahomes found Watkins in the end zone. Harrison Butker capped the first half by kicking a chip-shot field goal that sent the Chiefs to the locker room with a 17-7 lead.
Edwards-Helaire, their first-round pick, padded the lead in the third quarter, scoring on a 27-yard run.
The Chiefs put the game away when rookie L’Jarius Sneed picked off Watson’s jump ball in the closing seconds of the third quarter. Mahomes was bailed out of a fourth-down interception by pass interference in the end zone, then he zipped a dart to Hill streaking across the field for a 31-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Texans play their home opener against the Ravens, and the Chiefs visit the Chargers on Sept. 20.