HOUSTON — The Chiefs would have taken a triumph over the Houston Texans under any circumstance, but Sunday's 27-20 win spins an upbeat perspective on the season.
The Chiefs dominated an opponent in the first half with similar postseason aspirations. Quarterback Alex Smith generated an efficient offense and threw three touchdown passes, two to tight end Travis Kelce.
The defense was formidable, racking up sacks, big stops and forcing two turnovers, and special teams did their part by producing points.
If that's not enough, how about some recent Andy Reid history? This was his third opener with the Chiefs. He won his first one and the team made the playoffs. Last season, the Chiefs lost their opener and failed to make postseason.
The Chiefs didn't score in the second half, but they kept the Texans at bay, yielding a late touchdown and field goal as Houston's offense found new life with backup quarterback Ryan Mallett.
An onside kick recovering was needed to clinch the game and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, the team's new wide receiver weapon, provided the good hands there.
Houston's best chance to make a dent with the game in striking distance occurred midway through the third quarter. The Texans drove from their 20 to the Chiefs 11 and faced a fourth-and-1.
Quarterback Brian Hoyer handed off to Alfred Blue, and there was nose tackle Dontari Poe on the stop along with Husain Abdullah and Jaye Howard for no gain.
Poe, who had missed all of training camp recovering from a back injury, was back and helping the Chiefs keep pressure on Hoyer. Also in action were three other top defenders _ linebacker Derrick Johnson, tackle Mike DeVito and safety Eric Berry _ who missed extensive playing time last season.
They all had a hand in the decisive Chiefs' triumph that started taking shape early.
The Chiefs didn't get on the board on their first possession, but scored quickly after the Texans got their hands on ball for the first time.
Houston's first snap floated back to Hoyer and in a flash, Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston brought heat. The pass from a flustered Hoyer was disrupted and rookie cornerback Marcus Peters, the first-round draft pick from Washington, on his first NFL snap, went low for the interception.
The Chiefs were in business at the Texans' 13 and after Jamaal Charles picked up 3 yards, Smith fired a laser beam to Kelce cutting across the back of the end zone.
Less than four minutes into the season, the Chiefs led 7-0.
It would become 14-0 on the next drive, one that required more labor and was punctuated with an inventive touchdown celebration.
Smith and Charles hooked up for a 17-yard completion on 3rd and 13 with center Mitch Morse clearing traffic near the end of the play.
From the 42, Smith found Kelce all alone around the 25. With no obstruction to the end zone, Kelce started his celebration at the 10, went windmill with one arm while holding out the ball in the other and punching the poor pigskin into the stands on a bounce.
The Texans got untracked here, driving 80 yards with Hoyer throwing over the smaller Peters and into the outstretched hands of DeAndre Hopkins from 4 yards for the touchdown. But Randy Bullock's missed extra point _ remember, they're from 33 yards _ left the score 14-6.
The Texans gained no momentum from the drive. Nearly everything went the Chiefs' way the rest of the first half. Well, almost everything. Texans' defensive star J.J. Watt recorded a sack after losing his helmet, but otherwise couldn't make a difference.
The Chiefs offensive line, which changed over the weekend when it was determined Eric Fisher couldn't start at right tackle because of high ankle sprain, held its own against what's believed to be one of the NFL's top defenses.
Another Smith touchdown pass, this time to Charles from 7 yards, which occurred on the first play after a Derrick Thomas-like sack and strip by Houston and Allen Bailey recovery.
Cairo Santos' second field goal, this one from 48 yards, was set up by De'Anthony Thomas' 17-yard punt return that was one step away from a sprint to the end zone.
The Texans operated their two-minute offense with efficiency at the end of the half and tacked on a field goal just before halftime, but even then the Chiefs claimed a small victory when Jamell Fleming broke up a pass in the end zone just before the kick.
As the second half unfolded with the Chiefs defense continuing to harass Hoyer, the boo-birds flocked to RNG Stadium. They turned to cheers when the Texans replaced Hoyer with Mallett.
Mallett moved the Texans, but the distance was too far because of the Chiefs' fast start.