KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs were clinging to the lead late in the first half and the Tennessee Titans had the ball first-and-goal just a couple feet outside the end zone.
They ran up the middle and went nowhere. They threw a pass that was batted up in the air and resulted in nothing. They ran another pass play that resulted in a sack. And then one more run up the middle was stuffed at the goal line, turning the ball over to the Chiefs.
It was precisely the kind of stand that has become emblematic of the Chiefs defense this season, one that leads the league in scoring through the first five weeks.
"When you come out with that kind of attitude, that's infectious to everybody," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "You saw it led to a long drive after that. I thought it actually helped get the offense going a little bit there."
The Chiefs turned around and marched 94 yards for a field goal as time expired. That gave the Chiefs a 13-0 lead, and they would go on for a 26-17 victory.
"Just coming out and playing good hardnosed, tough football," Reid said in explaining the performance of his defense, which has been the biggest reason for their 5-0 start.
It's not just scoring where they've dominated, either. They have the best mark in the NFL when it comes to third-down percentage, allowing opponents to convert just 23.5 percent of their attempts. They're also best in the red zone at 25 percent, a number that was helped by their stand in Tennessee. And they're best in the NFL in takeaways with 15 already this season.
In many cases, those takeaways have led directly to points. The Chiefs have scored 50 points this season, third-most off takeaways in the NFL.
"That's a big emphasis throughout the week, and it's been a big emphasis throughout OTAs and everything else," Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry said. "That's always our goal: We want to get stops, but before we get stops we want to get the ball, and before we get the ball, we want to score."
Much of the credit for one of the NFL's most feared defenses has gone to new coordinator Bob Sutton, who has taken the pieces that were in place last season — and a few fresh faces — and put together a scheme that uses them to the best of their abilities.
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