Chiefs 27, Jets 7
Here's a switch: The Kansas City defense is apologizing for being imperfect, not for being awful.
The Chiefs' revamped defense -- the product of a busy, wheeling-and-dealing offseason -- came within 29 seconds Sunday of handing the New York Jets their first shutout in almost 10 years.
A 27-7 victory over the mistake-prone Jets proved a major pick-me-up for a defense which the past three years has never finished higher than 29th.
"We really wanted that shutout at the end. I know our fans did, too," said defensive end Eric Hicks, who blocked a field goal attempt when rookie Mike Nugent slipped. "I'm sorry we couldn't get it for them."
Kansas City started fast on offense, too -- Larry Johnson rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries and Priest Holmes added 85 yards and a touchdown.
Spurred on by newcomers such as Sammy Knight, Patrick Surtain and Derrick Johnson, the new-look defense forced seven fumbles and recovered two. Chad Pennington was sacked three times and intercepted once.
Curtis Martin was held to 57 yards on 20 carries -- 139 fewer than he had in last year's opener against Cincinnati en route to the NFL rushing title.
"There's nothing like having talent," said Chiefs Coach Dick Vermeil. "Our draft and free agency were good, and then the maturity of the kids that were already here blended together. Talented athletes make more tackles than average athletes."
Backup Jay Fiedler enabled the Jets to avoid their first shutout since Dec. 24, 1995, when he hit Chris Baker on a 23-yard touchdown pass.
"I wish we could have made more of a game of it, but it wasn't," said Jets Coach Herman Edwards. "They took us behind the woodshed and whupped us."
On their first three possessions, the Chiefs had touchdown drives of 75 and 95 yards and a 41-yard field goal. Holmes had a 35-yard run on the first drive, then Johnson, who is challenging him for playing time, finished it off with a 35-yard dash into the end zone.
"Willie Roaf pulled and that's all it is," said Johnson, who marked his sixth consecutive game with two or more touchdowns. Roaf, the Chiefs' 10-time Pro Bowl left tackle, later went out with what Vermeil said was a hamstring injury. By the end of the half, defensive tackle Ryan Sims was out with a foot injury and Surtain was on the sideline with a concussion following a 53-yard interception return. Pro Bowl fullback Tony Richardson also left the game with a mild kneed sprain.
"Hopefully the guys we lost today will be back soon and be back at full strength," Vermeil said. "We probably won't have [Roaf] for next week."
Lawrence Tynes had field goals of 41 and 38 yards for the Chiefs.