The Texans are 4-2 for the first time in franchise history.
They'll be in a tie for first place in the AFC South going into the bye week. The Indianapolis Colts are also 4-2. The Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars, who are both 3-2, play on Monday Night Football.
Down to three
When the Texans lost DeMeco Ryans to a season-ending Achilles injury in the second quarter, they were left with three healthy linebackers for the rest of the game. Linebackers Darryl Sharpton (ankle), Kevin Bentley (knee) and Xavier Adibi (hamstring) were inactive.
David Nixon stepped into weakside linebacker position and recorded the first six tackles of his career. Weakside starter Zac Diles moved over to Ryans' spot in the middle, lining up next to strongside linebacker Brian Cushing.
"I'd have to be here all day to explain to you what it's like to suit four linebackers and end up with three for a whole half, then try to play nickel and they went to a big package to run the ball on us knowing we were out of people, which was smart on their behalf," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "We were all out of whack and just tried to find a way to hang on and get the ball back."
The Texans let the Chiefs score on four consecutive drives before forcing a three-and-out late in the fourth quarter. That stop set up Matt Schaub's game-winning drive.
The Texans were the first team to score more than 20 points against Kansas City this season. The Chiefs' defense came into Week 6 allowing an average of 14.3 points per game.
It was the fourth time this season that the Texans scored 30 points. That already ties the team record for 30-point games in a season. The Texans had 421 yards of offense, scored touchdowns on each of their last four possessions and were 4-of-4 in the red zone.
The Texans had their worst offensive output of the season last week against the Giants, putting up only 10 points and 195 yards. The return of wide receiver Jacoby Jones from a calf injury and the improved health of Owen Daniels (knee) and Andre Johnson (ankle) made a big difference this week.
Johnson, helped by a new brace on his sprained right ankle, caught eight passes for 138 yards. Jones had four catches for 45 yards. Daniels, who tore his ACL in 2009, had a season-high five catches for 79 yards.
"I think the whole thing is being able to trust and be violent in my cuts, but I've been more confident in that every week," Daniels said. "I think I have a little wiggle back. I'm not quite the same as I was before I got hurt, but we're going in the right direction."
Cool under fire
Schaub led the seventh game-winning drive of his career and second of the season, marching the Texans 80 yards in nine plays in the game's final minutes.
He was 5-of-8 on the drive, finishing it off with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Johnson with 28 seconds left. Johnson marveled at Schaub's unwavering composure in the huddle.
"You couldn't tell if things were going good or going bad," Johnson said. "He pretty much stays the same in there. You make a play, he's going to tell you 'good job' and he's going to keep that straight face. He may come in every once in a while and tell a little joke or something to loosen everybody up, but other than that, positive or negative, whatever's going on, he's going to keep that straight face."
RB rotationRunning back Derrick Ward scored a touchdown in his third consecutive game when he reached the end zone from 38 yards out. It was his longest carry as a Texan.
"I feel swifter, man," Ward said. "I'm hanging around these young guys, Arian Foster and Steve Slaton. They're always calling me the old man of the group, so I had to show them that I've still got it."
Ward, 30, certainly does. Cut by the Buccaneers and signed by the Texans just before the start of the season, he's averaging 8.3 yards per carry on 17 attempts this season. He had three carries for 58 yards on Sunday, compared to 18 carries for 71 yards for Foster.
"I really saw some juice in him," Kubiak said of Ward. "I think maybe we left Arian on the field too long at times. We should have enough confidence in him that they should rotate a good rotation going, four and two or three and three or something. The touchdown run he made in the third quarter was a special run, so I think we need to get him some more."
Bits and pieces
Safety Bernard Pollard, who played with the Chiefs from 2006-08, had six tackles against his former team. He also was flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty in the fourth quarter…defensive end Mark Anderson, who signed with the Texans on Oct. 7, made his Texans debut. He did not record any statistics…rookie tight end Garrett Graham made his NFL debut, seeing action on special teams…defensive tackle Shaun Cody had a career-high nine tackles, including one tackle for loss…fullback Vonta Leach returned a short kickoff 26 yards to the Chiefs' 46-yard line in the third quarter to set up the Texans for a short touchdown drive…kicker Neil Rackers had a career-high three special teams tackles.