The 2020 NFL season has arrived and it all kicked off on Thursday night with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs delivering a 34-20 win in the NFL Kickoff Game.
We saw the scoring start early with Texans running back David Johnson breaking free for the first touchdown of the NFL season. Houston clung to some early momentum, but the problems manifested into Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense walking through the Texans on nearly every drive. By halftime, Kansas City rolled out to a 17-7 lead.
It didn’t get much better for the Texans in the second half. When rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire was off to the races for a 27-yard touchdown, it was the proverbial nail in the coffin. By the time Tyreek Hill added another highlight touchdown, the Chiefs’ offense was rolling with 31 unanswered points to victory.
With the first game of the NFL Kickoff Game in the books and Week 1 officially underway, let’s look at some of the highlights, winners and losers from the Chiefs dominating win in the NFL Kickoff Game.
Winner: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs surprised many when they selected Edwards-Helaire with their first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. What might have seemed like a reach to some, was Andy Reid finding the one missing piece in his offense. Edwards-Helaire didn’t need the preseason and that was evident immediately on Sunday.
In the first half alone, he racked up 64 rushing yards on only 10 carries. The stats were impressive, but his elusiveness and vision made you believe he was a 10-year veteran. Of course, he then kept it rolling in the second half with more jaw-dropping runs. It’s simply unfair that the Chiefs have him, as we saw in his 138-yard debut. The rookie might just be the next All-Pro in this offense.
Loser: Bill O’Brien, Houston Texans
It’s possible O’Brien was right about David Johnson, but trading away DeAndre Hopkins deserved the ridicule it received. He provided plenty of material for ridicule this offseason, making it more baffling he was named general manager. It would be one thing if he had a penchant for making smart decisions, but Thursday’s season-opening loss proved he is also a terrible coach.
It started early with O’Brien. In the second quarter at the 50-yard line on fourth-and-four, Houston punted the ball back to Mahomes. It was a weak decision. Sadly, O’Brien stuck to the conservative approach. Down 17, Houston kept running the football against backup cornerbacks and later punted again near midfield. Oh, an offense loaded with speed at receiver attempted just one pass 10-plus yards down the field in three quarters. O’Brien is wasting Watson. It’s shameful.
Winner: David Johnson, Houston Texans
When Johnson cut to the outside and exploded for his 19-yard score, it was his longest run in two years. Injuries have stood in the way of Johnson playing like the All-Pro talent fans enjoyed in 2016. On Thursday night, we saw the glimpses of a special all-purpose back.
Johnson’s impact went beyond the explosive runs. On those rare drives when Houston’s offense could move the football, screens to their star running back were paving the way to lengthy drives. If the Texans want to sustain any success this offseason, they need to take advantage of Johnson’s pass-catching skills.
Loser: Tytus Howard, Houston Texans
Everyone was left scratching their heads when the Texans selected Howard with the No. 23 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-5 offensive tackle certainly had potential, but he came out of Alabama State as a massive project. A year into his development, he looks like a turnstile.
It would be an understatement to say Frank Clark wrecked Howard. The matchup looked like an NFL player outclassing a varsity lineman, including the overall effort on Howard’s part. Unsurprisingly, the pressure took a toll on Watson and the Chiefs kept attacking. Houston has a problem at right tackle.
Winner: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs want to run it back and become the NFL’s next dynasty. While signing a 30-year-old tight end to a huge extension might seem risky, there aren’t many players like Kelce. If there was anyone with concerns that he might start to decline, those doubters were silenced.
While Kelce didn’t drop a monster line, he was a physical force that the Texans could never find an answer for. he racked up an easy 50 yards and a score on six receptions, finding holes in the defense and picking up yards after the catch. There will be plenty of games to come where Mahomes is a winner, but Kelce set the tone early in this game and proved why he’s one of the best to play the position.