The Kansas City Chiefs are now 3-2 and still in first place in the AFC West after losing to the Houston Texans 35-31 on Sunday afternoon in Reliant Stadium. The Texans had the 32nd ranked pass defense in the NFL entering the game so the feeling was that the Chiefs were going to be able to take a few shots on their secondary.
For most teams opening up the offense a little and going down field wouldn't be a big deal. For the Chiefs, who have struggled in the passing game, it was a big deal.
But give Matt Cassel credit. By the end of Sunday's game, Cassel was part of the solution. He ended the game with 201 yards passing completing 20-of-29 passes for three touchdowns. He did not turn the ball over.
Matt Cassel did a lot of things right on Sunday. He was facing the most pressure -- from fans and media at least -- and really stepped up in a big way. I remember in Week 3, as Cassel was coming off of two below average performances in a row, he stepped up for a big game against San Francisco. I like that part about Cassel. He was pushed to the wall and he responded big time. He's now had two 3-TD games in 2010 alone.
There were two stats in particular that I think Cassel and the Chiefs offense needs to keep up over the coming weeks and the month.
What I'm really excited about more than anything is Cassel's completion percentage. The most fundamental part of a quarterback's job is to complete passes. He was not completing his passes at an acceptable rate (in my mind) to this point in the season. I think the minimum for a good quarterback 60 percent. Cassel was hovering around 55 percent.
Sunday's game saw him complete 69 percent of his passes. He was making quick decisions, the players were catching the ball and you didn't see him throw it away but a couple of times.
The rest of this Chiefs team is so fundamentally sound that if Cassel starts completing 60-65 percent of his passes then this is going to be a dangerous team the rest of the way.
The Chiefs have improved in a lot of areas this year but one of those was not third down. On offense the Chiefs struggled big time on third down throughout the start to the season. It seemed like the Chiefs would always blow it whenever the pressure was on or the defense knew what they were doing.
On Sunday the Chiefs completed 9-of-16 third downs (58 percent). For some perspective, they were 1-of-10 last week against the Colts. 9-of-16 is a number to be proud of. The Chiefs were regularly extending drives which are heart breakers for the defense.
A strong jump in third down percentage can usually be attributed to the passing game and that area performed well for the Chiefs on Sunday.
If the Chiefs an get similar play out of their quarterback moving forward then this team is going to be just fine. This team does a lot of things right and if they can get something other than "He doesn't turn the ball over!" from the quarterback position then this is going to be a serious team down the stretch.