Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes became the first player in NFL history to have three touchdowns and zero interceptions in three consecutive season-opening games after his performance Thursday in Kansas City, Mo. File Photo by Kyle Rivas/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 11 (UPI) -- All-Pro quarterback Patrick Mahomes and rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire engineered a dominant win for the Kansas City Chiefs over the Houston Texans Thursday night to kick off the 2020 NFL season.
Mahomes tossed three touchdown passes for the defending Super Bowl champions in the 34-20 victory at a partly filled Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. About 17,000 fans were allowed to attend the game.
Players, coaches and staff members from both teams met at midfield before the game in a display of unity amid the fight for racial justice, led by Mahomes and Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.
After kickoff, it was Edwards-Helaire -- the No. 32 overall pick in April's NFL Draft -- used excellent vision, balance and speed to rumble for 138 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries.
The Texans, who typically play man defense against the Chiefs, switched to a zone scheme to limit big plays to speedy wide receiver Tyreek Hill and other Mahomes targets. The Chiefs quarterback responded by finding gaps in the defense to complete 24 of 32 passes to a variety of targets for 211 yards
"We have confidence in every single person in the huddle that they can make plays happen when their number is called," Mahomes said. "I'm going to take what is there."
Houston had an early 7-0 lead before the Chiefs scored 31 unanswered points. Hill, tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Sammy Watkins caught touchdowns in the triumph.
"We liked the mix we were able to get going," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "We threw the ball well, caught the ball well and also ran it well. Give the offensive line credit for [blocking] against one of the best defensive fronts in the league."
The teams exchanged punts on the first two drives before the Texans marched down the field with a nine-play, 80-yard drive. Texans running back David Johnson -- who joined the team in an off-season trade -- punctuated the drive with a 19-yard touchdown run.
Kansas City punched back when Mahomes completed 6 of 7 passes on an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. He found Kelce up the middle for a six-yard score to tie the game at 7-7 at the start of the second quarter.
The Chiefs forced a three-and-out from the Texans on the next drive and Mahomes orchestrated a clock-draining 16-play, 86-yard drive. He threw a two-yard touchdown toss to Watkins 2:30 before halftime.
Harrison Butker connected on a 29-yard field goal at the end of the second quarter to give the Chiefs a 17-7 lead at halftime.
Edwards-Helaire capped off the first drive of the second half with a 27-yard touchdown run. The Chiefs rookie stuck his foot in the ground to freeze the defense before he sped past several Texans defenders on the run, which gave Kansas City a 24-7 advantage.
Mahomes threw his third touchdown toss with 11:30 remaining, hitting Hill with a three-yard toss in the right side of the end zone for that score.
The Texans then scored on back-to-back drives to cut the Chiefs lead to 11 points before Butker made a 19-yard field goal with 33 seconds remaining for the final blow.
Watson completed 20 of 32 passes for 253 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also had 27 yards and a touchdown on six carries. Johnson had 109 yards from scrimmage and a score on 14 touches out of the Texans backfield. Will Fuller had a game-high 112 receiving yards for Houston.
"We have to continue to improve, learn from this game and get ready for next week," Watson said.
Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones had three tackles and 1.5 sacks in the win. Frank Clark and Dorian O'Daniel also had sacks for the Chiefs. Jake Martin had a sack for the Texans.
"I'm still trying to take it all in," Edwards-Helaire said of his NFL debut. "I'm just floating."
"There are some things to build, but we have a long way to go obviously," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. "We have to get going and improve very quickly."
Thursday was Kansas City's first game since beating the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 in Super Bowl LIV in February, which brought the team's first NFL title since 1970.
The Texans (0-1) next host the Baltimore Ravens and the Chiefs (1-0) hit the road to face the Los Angeles Chargers. Both games are scheduled for 4:25 p.m. EDT on Sept. 20.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback and Super Bowl LIV MVP Patrick Mahomes holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Chiefs defeated the 49ers 31-20. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo