Chiefs welcome Jaguars to hostile Arrowhead Stadium
With a fast-improving defense and a soft schedule, the Kansas City Chiefs are carrying a lot of momentum into the second quarter of the season.
They'll look to continue their surprising winning streak when they host the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday in a matchup of two of the NFL's best early-season defenses.
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After poor performances in losses to Houston and Chicago to open the season, many fans had written off the Chiefs and begun looking to next year. But behind a stout defense, Kansas City has won two straight and is tied with Denver and Oakland atop the AFC West.
Now, the NFL's best home team over the past two decades gets a chance to pad its record at cozy Arrowhead Stadium.
"Obviously, we wish we were in better shape than we are now," Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said. "But we are what we are. We're 2-2. But you're looking at the games at home, you've got two at home, then you go on the road and then you come back for three out of the four at home again.
"If you're going to make a run at anything, you're going to have to make your run there."
Kansas City (2-2) hosts Cincinnati next week and plays four of its next five at home, where the team is 14-3 since 2005 -- the best record in the NFL. Since 1990, the Chiefs are an NFL-best 103-34 at Arrowhead Stadium.
The key to the Chiefs' success has been a shut-down defense, which has held Minnesota and San Diego scoreless in the second half the past two weeks while giving the offense a chance to rally. Kansas City ranks third in the NFL, allowing just 285.8 yards per game.
The Chiefs came back from a 10-0 deficit to beat the Vikings 13-10 in Week 3, then scored 24 unanswered points in the second half to defeat the Chargers 30-16 last week.
Now, with rookie
Bowe beating opposing secondaries -- he leads all rookies in catches (18), yards (299) and touchdowns (3) -- and fellow receiver Eddie Kennison set to return from an injury, the Chiefs have a dimension other than Pro Bowl running back Larry Johnson.
Bowe had eight catches for a team rookie-record 164 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers while Johnson had his first 100-yard game of the season, rushing for 123 yards. Tight end Tony Gonzalez also entered his name in the record books, catching a touchdown pass, the 62nd of his career, to tie Shannon Sharpe for the most all-time by a tight end.
"You'd like to be in a situation where you're kind of getting some momentum," Edwards said. "All of a sudden, you've won two and you feel a lot better about yourself. We've still got a long way to go. But hey, we're playing at home and that always helps."
The Jaguars (2-1) had a bye last week, getting a much-needed break to heal some injured players. Jacksonville has won two straight after losing its season opener to Tennessee, and the Jaguars rank fourth in the NFL in defense, allowing just 287.7 yards per game.
However, many Jaguars were hurting, including Pro Bowl defensive tackle John Henderson, who sat out the team's 23-14 win over Denver on Sept. 23.
Henderson sustained a concussion in the Jaguars' 13-7 win over Atlanta the previous week, and despite going back into that game, was held out against Denver. He's spent the bye week recovering, as did linebacker Clint Ingram, running back Fred Taylor and left tackle Khalif Barnes.
"It's big for us right now because we have so many guys dinged," said Ingram, who missed the first three games with a sprained ankle. "It's a chance for guys with dents and dings and little stuff like that to work them out.
Official site links ... The Jaguars, who had a bye last week, look to improve on their 2-1 record. More ...
The Chiefs are on a two-game winning streak after a pair of 10-point comeback wins. More ...
"You don't get much time to heal in this league, but when you do, you've got to be able to take advantage of it. We're definitely doing that now."
Jacksonville has used a strong defense and mistake-free offense to jump out to its quick start. The Jaguars are allowing and AFC-low 11.3 points per game while David Garrard has a 103.8 passer rating and is one of just two quarterbacks in the league with at least 50 pass attempts and no interceptions.
Jacksonville and Kansas City are just two of four teams to hold their opponents under 20 points in each game this year.
The Chiefs beat the Jaguars 35-30 at home on Dec. 31, clinching a wild card spot when other outcomes swung in their favor. Johnson had 138 yards rushing and three touchdowns. The Jaguars, however, have won four of the six all-time meetings between the teams.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press