Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith survived five sacks and threw three touchdown passes while back up running backs Knile Davis and Joe McKnight went wild and led the Chiefs to a much-needed win over the Miami Dolphins Sunday at Sun Life Stadium. The win raised the Chiefs record to 1-2 and partially salvages a season that could have spun out of control had they gone 0-3.
Smith, who has been struggling all season long and was one of the lowest-rated quarterbacks in the league after the first two games. was masterful in leading the offense with his arm and his legs. Miami pressured Smith all day long, but he finished the game completing 19 of 25 passes for 186 yards. In addition, his 17 yards rushing came at critical times when the game was still in question. The only blemishes on Smith’s day were a lost fumble that led to a Miami score and getting sacked for a safety, but the Chiefs will take the 34 points any time.
Filling in for the injured Jamaal Charles, Davis ran hard through a tough Miami defensive line for 132 yards on 32 carries. His day was almost perfect until he lost a fumble in the fourth quarter that gave the Dolphins one last gasp to make it a game. Throw in the fact that Davis twice ran out of bounds late in the fourth quarter when the Chiefs were trying to run out the clock and the young back still has some flaws in his game that could keep him humble.
The revelation in the game was the emergence of running back Joe McKnight who was the team’s leading receiver out of the backfield with six catches for 64 yards and two second-half touchdowns. McKnight spent last year out of football after being released by the New York Jets and had some fans wondering why the Chiefs would use a roster spot for him this year?
The answer became evident when Smith hit McKnight with critical third down passes early in the game and then found him twice for touchdowns in the second half. The fact that McKnight was wearing #22, the same number Dexter McCluster wore during his time as a Chief, was further proof that the Chiefs may have found another weapon on an offense searching for playmakers.
In addition to the offensive output, the Chiefs defense kept the Miami offense from establishing any kind of rhythm despite giving up 141 rushing yards of their own and going a third consecutive game without causing a turnover from the opposition. Most of the damage was done by Miami running back Lamar Miller who, like Davis, took over starting duties for the Dolphins when they lost their starting running back, Knowshon Moreno.
Miller gashed the Chiefs for 108 yards rushing on 15 carries – a healthy 7.2 yards per carry. However, when push came to shove, Miller couldn’t find the end zone.
For complete game stats, check out the box score here.
Staring down the barrel of a potential 0-3 start with a loss to Miami, the Chiefs offense played the first quarter as if they were running through quicksand, gaining a total of 41 yards and no points on their first three possessions. Luckily, the Chiefs defense played well and kept the game scoreless through the opening 15 minutes.
Finally on the Chiefs fourth offensive possession, Davis starting finding some running room and Smith kept the first down chains moving with quick passes that thwarted the fierce Miami pass rush. When Davis followed a textbook block from left tackle Eric Fisher, he suddenly found plenty of open space and scampered 21 yards for a touchdown, putting KC up 7-0.
After the defense forced Miami to punt on their next possession, Smith led the Chiefs on an even longer drive and took advantage of a Miami coverage mistake when Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon was the man with coverage on KC tight end Travis Kelce. Smith hit Kelce on a drag route across the middle and Kelce used his speed to get by Vernon and outran two other Dolphin defenders twenty yards to the end zone.
The Dolphins had their best drive of the game in the last two minutes of the first half when quarterback Ryan Tannehill flashed the ability that has Miami fans both fantasizing and frustrated that he hasn’t turned the corner consistently. Tannehill drove the Dolphins downfield, making some athletic throws and got the team in position for a field goal to make the halftime score 14-3.
The Chiefs would probably like to forget the third quarter as Smith lost a fumble after being sacked deep in Chiefs territory. Miami converted that mistake into a touchdown and all of a sudden it was 14-10 Chiefs. A nice 10-play drive for the Chiefs ended in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Smith to McKnight, but Miami answered with a field goal after a 74-yard kickoff return by Miami rookie Jarvis Landry.
On the next series, the Dolphins sacked Smith in his own end zone for a safety. The score was 21-15 Chiefs and the game definitely was on the line for KC.
However, the fourth quarter belonged to the Chiefs and their defense, which wouldn’t allow Miami to come close to scoring. The Chiefs tacked on two more touchdowns, a four-yard pass to McKnight from Smith and a Cyrus Gray 6-yard dash with less than a minute to play that put the final nail in the coffin.
The Chiefs raised their record to 1-2 and will face a struggling New England Patriots team next Monday night at Arrowhead. The Patriots (2-1) were crushed by this same Dolphins team in Week One and were nearly upset at home Sunday by the winless Oakland Raiders.
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