Chiefs use punishing ground game en route to 45-10 win over Lions

Nov. 1, 2015; London; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) scrambles for positive yards against the Detroit Lions at Wembley Stadium. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Nov. 1, 2015; London; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) scrambles for positive yards against the Detroit Lions at Wembley Stadium. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Facing the hapless Detroit Lions, the Kansas City Chiefs did not need Jamaal Charles to rack up a season-high 206 rushing yards in a 45-10 win Sunday in London.

Running back Charcandrick West amassed 97 yards rushing on 20 carries, and quarterback Alex Smith threw for 145 yards and two scores and rushed for 78 yards and another score.

“[Smith] had some very positive yards for us at a needed time,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid told reporters in London after the game. “He did an outstanding job with that. We know he can run. We don’t really want him to run, but if it works out that way, that’s OK.”

While Smith may not have expected to run as much as he did and as effectively as he did, he had anticipated the chance to use his feet against the Lions.

“It’s something we talked about as quarterbacks all week, felt like there were some opportunities there, just the way they play,” Smith told reporters. “QBs had made some plays … It just presented itself that way today. I was able to get up, get clear looks and a lot of backs turned to me.”

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford suffered seven sacks in Week 7, and the Chiefs inflicted six more Sunday. That pressure contributed to a lackluster performance by Stafford, who threw for 217 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

“You get into a situation where you’re down 24, 31-3, whatever it is, that’s a defense’s dream,” Stafford told reporters. “They’re unloading every blitz they have, showing stuff they haven’t done in a long time and knowing that they’ve got some wiggle room to play with. That’s a tough situation.”

The Chiefs (3-5) handled the game from start to finish. They controlled the clock, maintaining possession for 34 minutes and 14 seconds. They scored on six of seven trips to the red zone. They committed only three penalties while the Lions (1-7) had eight.

Kansas City converted eight of 13 (62 percent) chances on third down Sunday, up from 56 percent in Week 7. In six previous games, the Chiefs had success just 27.5 percent of the time.

The Chiefs took a 24-3 lead into halftime, and Smith kept up his scrambling ways on the first drive of the second half, converting on third down with a 10-yard run during which he craftily evaded incoming Detroit defenders.

The march down the field ended with a two-yard touchdown catch by tight end Travis Kelce, and the Chiefs took a 31-3 advantage. Even with such a lead, the Chiefs stayed aggressive, and for good reason.

“You saw this football team last year, the Lions … were down by quite a few points and [came] back and beat Atlanta,” Reid said. “Our players had seen that game. They were aware of it, and they made sure they kept the pedal to the metal there.”

Early in the fourth quarter, an electric 37-yard punt return by wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas allowed Kansas City to start its drive on the Detroit 16-yard line, and two plays later the Chiefs took a 38-3 lead when Smith hit wide receiver Jeremy Maclin for a touchdown.

Nov. 1, 2015; London; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver De'Anthony Thomas (13) crosses the goal line for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions at Wembley Stadium. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

Nov. 1, 2015; London; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas (13) crosses the goal line for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions at Wembley Stadium. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

After the Lions scored their only touchdown, Kansas City responded in kind.

A 32-yard sprint by West positioned Kansas City at the Detroit four-yard line, and on the next play running back Spencer Ware bulled into the end zone and gave the Chiefs a 45-10 lead.

The Lions had made some major changes earlier in the week, firing offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and offensive line coaches Jeremiah Washburn and Terry Heffernan. Under promoted quarterbacks coach Jim Bob Cooter, however, the Detroit offense did not look any better.

The Lions scored their only touchdown in the fourth quarter, when Stafford threw on the run to wide receiver Lance Moore, who got low to make the catch and then rolled untouched into the end zone for a 21-yard reception, making the score 38-10.

Detroit’s other score came on its first possession of the game, when the Lions settled for a field goal attempt after the Chiefs defense tightened up in the red zone.

Kansas City struck back on its first possession, which began with a 50-yard return by Knile Davis. Thomas capped the nine-play drive with a 10-yard touchdown run, and the Chiefs led 7-3.

The Chiefs upped their lead to 14-3 early in the second quarter. The drive started with a 49-yard dash by Smith and ended with a 12-yard touchdown run by Smith.

Kansas City tacked on another three points on its next possession after Stafford, with a ferocious outside linebacker Tamba Hali bearing down on him, tossed an interception. After the Lions got the ball back, Stafford threw another pick.

Thomas catalyzed the ensuing drive with a 23-yard catch-and-run, and the possession concluded with an 8-yard touchdown jaunt for West that put the Chiefs ahead 24-3.

Notes: The Chiefs enter the bye week on a two-game winning streak … Chiefs offensive lineman Jeff Allen moved from right tackle to left guard with Ben Grubbs out with a neck injury; Jah Reid started at right tackle … Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson left the game with an ankle injury … Detroit cornerback Josh Wilson had left the game with a neck injury, but returned.


Special contributor Ashley Dunkak currently serves as a correspondent for CBS Local Sports and The Associated Press. She previously worked for CBS Detroit, where she covered the Lions, Tigers, Red Wings, Pistons and college sports.


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