1:00 PM ET, September 29, 2013
Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Eric Berry credits Kansas City's 4-0 start to the "family feeling" that held everyone together during the hapless 2-14 season of 2012.
Maybe so. But after the Chiefs (4-0) pounded the winless New York Giants 31-7 on Sunday, it's obvious that importing a cool, savvy quarterback from San Francisco and bringing in a smart, no-nonsense coach from Philadelphia also had a lot to do with a rags-to-riches transformation.
Even in a league known for quick turnarounds and breathtaking free-falls, this seems preposterous.
More Giants-Chiefs Coverage
The Chiefs have shown patience with receiver Dexter McCluster for reasons that were not fully revealed until Sunday. Turns out his 5-feet-8, 170-pound frame can carry some serious weight, writes Adam Teicher. Blog
The Giants believe they can bounce back from an 0-4 start and that they will certainly play better. But it's time to start thinking about 2014, writes Dan Graziano. Blog
Alex Smith, who lost his job last year in San Francisco, threw three touchdown passes, and Dexter McCluster returned a punt 89 yards for another score as the Chiefs joined the 1980 Detroit Lions as the only teams in modern league history to win two or fewer games one season, then rocket to a 4-0 start the next.
"To be honest, all we talked about all offseason was being 1-0," said Smith. "Just get the first one."
Did he ever dream of being 4-0?
"No, to answer your question."
The Giants, proud Super Bowl champions of 2007 and 2011 season, are 0-4 for the first time since 1987, a mass of injury and disarray.
"It is disappointing," said quarterback Eli Manning, who's been operating all year behind a patchwork offensive line. "The defense got us some turnovers and we weren't able to do anything with it. We are just not playing very well offensively."
The injury-ravaged Giants trailed only 17-7 after three quarters. They managed a 69-yard catch-and-run TD from Eli Manning to Victor Cruz.
"This is a situation we've got to fix," said Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. "We know what we're capable of doing."
Smith hit touchdown passes of 4, 2 and 35 yards and was 24 for 41 for 288 yards. He was intercepted twice and the Chiefs also lost a fumble, Kansas City's first turnovers in what may be turning into a magical season under first-year head coach Andy Reid.
"I know they'll battle," said first-year coach Andy Reid, who spent the previous 14 seasons coaching the Eagles. "That's what I know. There are a lot of things I don't know but I do know this: We're a tough bunch."
Manning was 18 for 37 for 217 yards and the one TD. He was sacked three times and intercepted once, but harried and hurried much of the bright, sunny afternoon.
All of a sudden, the misery of 2012 that cost coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli their jobs seems a distant memory.
"We just kept working, kept sticking together," said Berry. "We know things don't always go your way. But you've got to be able to stick together through tough times, in life, period. We kept leaning on each other. Nobody pointed a finger at anybody at any time. We just stuck together and I feel like that was the foundation that was built for us to do what we're doing now. But we've still got a lot of work to do."
A Giant Mess
The Giants are just the third team to allow 30 points and commit three turnovers in each of their first four games of a season. Here's who they joined, and how those teams fared:
|-- Elias Sports Bureau|
Late in the first quarter, Smith hit Sean McGrath, Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe for gains of 12, 17 and 14 yards on successive plays. McGrath, the heavily bearded tight end and Seattle Seahawks castoff, got free in the end zone to catch Smith's 5-yard TD pass to cap the 11-play, 98-yard drive.
The drive took 5 minutes, 38 seconds. To answer, Manning needed only 54 seconds.
Cruz went streaking down the right sideline -- turf normally patrolled by injured cornerback Brandon Flowers -- caught Manning's pass in stride and raced into the end zone. Trailing far behind was Dunta Robinson, a backup cornerback.
The Chiefs led only 10-7 when McCluster fielded the ball and set sail on the first TD punt return the Chiefs have had since Sept. 13, 2010, when McCluster took one back a team-record 94 yards against San Diego during a rain storm. He juked one tackler, put a dizzying 360-degree spin move on another and then broke clear up the middle.
Ryan Succop, who kicked a 51-yard field goal in the second quarter, connected on a 53-yarder a few minutes later.
In the fourth quarter, Smith fired a 2-yard TD pass to Charles and a 35-yarder to Bowe, who twisted free of a couple of tacklers.
Like many fans, referee Terry McAulay is used to Reid being with the Eagles. After Reid successfully challenged a spot in the third quarter, McAulay announced, "Philadelphia will not be charged a timeout."... Gary Barbaro, a Pro Bowl safety in the early `80s, was inducted into the Chiefs' Hall of Fame at halftime. ... The 1987 Giants team which started 0-5 and missed the playoffs after winning the Super Bowl the year before, came in a strike-interrupted season. ... In their last 16 games against the NFC, the Chiefs are 13-3.
KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 29: Linebacker Tamba Hali #91 of the Kansas City Chiefs sacks quarterback Eli Manning...(Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||4.9||5.6|
Yards per pass
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||0-0||2-2|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||1|
|TD||14:52||Sean Mcgrath 5 Yard Pass From Alex Smith (Ryan Succop Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 11 plays, 98 yds, 5:38
|TD||14:02||Victor Cruz 69 Yard Pass From Eli Manning (Josh Brown Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 74 yds, 0:54
|FG||2:00||Ryan Succop 51 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 5 plays, 31 yds, 1:53
|TD||1:55||Dexter Mccluster 89 Yard Punt Return (Ryan Succop Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 1 plays, 89 yds, 0:00
|TD||5:47||Jamaal Charles 2 Yard Pass From Alex Smith (Ryan Succop Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 14 plays, 80 yds, 9:17
|TD||3:15||Dwayne Bowe 34 Yard Pass From Alex Smith (Ryan Succop Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 35 yds, 1:25
The Giants are just the third team in NFL history to allow at least 30 points and commit at least three turnovers in each of their first four games of a season.[+]
Allowed 30 Points and Committed 3 Turnovers - Each of First 4 Games of Season
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