KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs continue rolling through the AFC, moving to 5-0 this season thanks to a 42-34 win over the Houston Texans, despite piling up more injuries which is knocking key players from the starting lineup.
The Chiefs believe wide receiver Chris Conley sustained a torn Achilles tendon, a diagnosis that would end his season. Travis Kelce entered the league's concussion protocol during the game, but head coach Andy Reid appeared optimistic about his All-Pro tight end's prognosis on Monday.
"Kelce was feeling OK after the game," Reid said. "I'm not telling you Kelce's out, I don't want it to come off that way. He's got to go through the whole protocol part of it."
Kelce caught eight passes for 98 yards in the first half against Houston before sustaining a helmet-to-helmet hit late in the first half. Reid said the unaffiliated neurological consultant on the field initially cleared Kelce to return to the game.
During halftime, however, Kelce experienced memory issues.
"He was cleared by the U.N.C. in the tent, and they came in at halftime and just said he couldn't quite remember," Reid said after the game. "He remembered on the field, but he couldn't quite remember things when he came off, so we just held him out from there."
Despite the rash of injuries, Reid remains optimistic his team can weather the storm thanks to the depth put together by former general manager John Dorsey and current general manager Brett Veach.
"Our personnel department does a nice job of bringing in good football players so that if something happens where you're hurt, you let us know and let's get the other guys in and you get yourself ready," Reid said. "And when you're ready, then you come back. Until then, the others will pick up the slack and go."
The injury bug started biting the Chiefs in the preseason. Starting running back Spencer Ware saw his season end prematurely with a devastating knee injury in the team's third preseason game. All-Pro safety Eric Berry was the next to go down, his season coming to an end with a torn Achilles tendon in Week 1 against New England.
The club's ability to identify talent in an emergency paid off when kicker Cairo Santos suffered a pulled groin muscle in Week 3 against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chiefs quickly signed rookie kicker Harrison Butker from the practice squad of the Carolina Panthers. Butker hit a game-winning field goal last week against Washington, and was perfect against Houston Sunday night, connecting on five field goals.
The Chiefs entered the game against Houston without three starters: linebacker Dee Ford, center Mitch Morse and right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. There's no immediate timetable for the return of all three players.
Offensive lineman Cameron Erving, acquired from Cleveland in a trade near the end of the preseason, started in Duvernay-Tardif's absence at right guard. The team believes tackle remains Erving's best position, but he gained enough experience with the Browns that Reid felt comfortable giving the former first-round draft pick a chance.
"He brought great energy in there and he battled," Reid said. "It wasn't all pretty but he battled his tail off."
Kansas City tied a franchise record with their ninth straight regular-season road win, matching the streak set by the 1966-67 Chiefs team.
The Chiefs' last road loss came more than a year ago, falling at the Pittsburgh Steelers 43-14 in Week 4 of 2016. The team's win streak includes victories over both Super Bowl teams from last season along with four wins over AFC West opponents. The Chiefs have won 15 of their last 18 games, with all three losses coming at Arrowhead Stadium by a combined six points.
Head coach Andy Reid says his team relies on consistency, trying to maintain routine meeting and practice schedules regardless of game time. The Chiefs played their second straight prime-time game and third of the season Sunday night against Houston.
"Try to keep it as consistent as you can, but the rest of it is just the guys playing good football, coaches having a plan and guys executing and playing well," Reid said.
Kansas City's opportunity to extend their road winning streak comes in less than two weeks against the Oakland Raiders for a Thursday night game. The Raiders dropped their third straight game Sunday with a 30-17 home loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
The 1966-67 Chiefs hold the AFC record for most consecutive road wins including both regular season and playoffs. The 2006-08 team won 12 straight regular-season games, but lost on the road in the 2006 AFC Championship game at Indianapolis.
The 1966 Chiefs posted a perfect 7-0 regular-season road record and won the AFL Championship Game at Buffalo. The team lost Super Bowl I on a neutral field to the Green Bay Packers. The 1967 team then won its first two road games.
The 1988-90 San Francisco 49ers hold the NFL record for consecutive road wins. The club won 18 straight regular-season games, and won 19 in a row including the postseason.
All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters again attracted attention from television cameras during Sunday night's game against the Texans, appearing to shout in the direction of defensive coordinator Bob Sutton before linebacker Justin Houston stepped in to calm him down.
"It's an emotional game," head coach Andy Reid said Monday. "We know that he's emotional. That's not a secret here."
Reid said everyone on the team has different personalities and that Peters simply shares his emotions differently than others.
"It's no different than a family that way," Reid said. "You manage it, knowing that he'll calm down and when he does he's OK. He's got a short memory that way."
Peters publicly drew his coach's ire last week. Television cameras caught Peters shouting profanities toward a heckler in the crowd, then he delivered a series of profanities to reporters in an interview after the game.
Reid said last week he addressed the incidents with Peters, emphasizing that he can't behave that way. But the coach also appreciates his player's passion, if he can channel it successfully into his play on the field.
"Nobody loves the game more than this guy loves the game," Reid said. "We all understand that too. We're all wired a little bit different, we understand that. We work with it."
NOTES: TE Travis Kelce took a helmet-to-helmet hit late in the first half against Houston and briefly returned to the game. Head coach Andy Reid said Kelce initially received clearance to return from the unaffiliated neurological consultant on the sideline. He experienced memory problems at halftime, however, and the team held him out for the rest of the game and put him in the league's concussion protocol. ... WR Chris Conley sustained an apparent ruptured Achilles tendon while returning a recovered onside kick late in the fourth quarter against the Texans. The team awaits final test results, but expects to place Conley on season-ending injured reserve. ... LB Justin Houston left Sunday night's game with a spasm in his calf. He was questionable to return, but the injury does not appear to be a long-term issue. ...
WR Albert Wilson twice left the game against the Texans with leg spasms. It's unknown if the issue will cause Wilson to miss next week's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. ... S Steven Terrell sustained a concussion on the game's opening kickoff and entered the league's concussion protocol. There is no timeline on the return of Terrell, who mostly contributes on special teams for the Chiefs. ... WR Tyreek Hill briefly exited the game against the Texans after tweaking his ankle at the end of a punt return. He returned to the game and later broke free for an 82-yard punt return for a touchdown. ... C Mitch Morse missed his third game with a sprained foot. Morse did not practice last week, but appeared in the team's locker room late in the week without a protective boot or noticeable limp. ... RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif did not play against the Texans after spraining the MCL in his knee last week against Washington. The starting lineman expects to miss a couple of weeks with the injury. OL Cameron Erving, obtained via a trade from Cleveland in August, made his first start with the Chiefs in the absence of Duvernay-Tardif. ... LB Dee Ford missed his second straight game with what the team termed as lower back soreness. Ford left the team's Week 3 game at the Los Angeles Chargers with what the team called a hip injury. He has not played or practiced since. No word yet on his timetable to return. ... LB Ramik Wilson was a healthy scratch against Houston, one week after losing his starting job to LB Reggie Ragland. Wilson primarily played alongside Derrick Johnson as the Mike linebacker in the team's base 3-4 package. Wilson does not see much special teams action, pushing him to the bench as Ragland increases his workload as the team's more physical inside linebacker.
REPORT CARD VS. TEXANS
--PASSING OFFENSE: A -- Hard to find any fault with Alex Smith and the passing offense against the Texans. Smith posted efficient numbers again, 29-of-37 passing for 324 yards and three touchdowns while connecting with 11 different receivers. The offensive line provided protection when needed while allowing just one sack for a single yard. Smith saved his best for third down, converting for eight first downs while completing 9 of 12 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown on third down.
--RUSHING OFFENSE: A-minus - Kareem Hunt's red-hot start makes 107 yards on 29 carries seem pedestrian by comparison, but the rookie once again thrived in the second half and down the stretch in helping the Chiefs put the game away late. Hunt found very few holes in the Houston front seven early, but still found a way to wiggle his way for yardage. His 82 yards rushing in the second half helped the Chiefs hold off a Houston rally.
--PASS DEFENSE: C - The Chiefs defense held Deshaun Watson in check much of the night but the rookie exploded in the fourth quarter for 201 passing yards on 9-of-16 passing and three touchdowns. Watson finished with five touchdown passes. That is just the seventh time the Chiefs allowed five touchdown passes in a game in franchise history, and just the second time they still won the game. The Chiefs collected three sacks, but Watson made the secondary pay repeatedly when he escaped pressure and found receivers downfield.
--RUSH DEFENSE: C-plus - Kansas City held Lamar Miller and D'Onta Foreman to 108 yards on 19 carries, but the defense struggled at times with Houston's misdirection. The Texans used read-option plays and wide receiver sweeps with great effect.
--SPECIAL TEAMS: A-minus - Tyreek Hill put the game out of reach with his 82-yard punt return for a touchdown with 7:22 remaining in the game that put the Chiefs ahead 39-20. Rookie Harrison Butker, appearing in just his second NFL game, went 5-for-5 on field-goal tries and scored 18 points on the night. The only blemishes came on a 49-yard punt return surrendered to Will Fuller V and a risky punt return by De'Anthony Thomas from near his own goal line.
--COACHING: B-plus - Head coach Andy Reid's offensive game plan proved effective, although the team struggled in the red zone settling for too many field goals. Reid's offense runs like a faucet right now, seemingly able to turn it on and off at will. The Chiefs' defense bottled up Watson and the Texans for three quarters, but the fourth-quarter explosion is a cause for concern. Special teams was a huge factor, and it was a big night for coordinator Dave Toub.