KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For the Kansas City Chiefs, an unexpectedly stellar start to the season continued Sunday.
For the Houston Texans, Sunday was another day when they could not live up to their preseason expectations of being a Super Bowl contender.
In front of 74,118 fans at Arrowhead Stadium, the Chiefs pushed their record to 7-0 with a 17-16 victory over the Texans. Houston (2-5) lost its fifth consecutive game.
The Texans didn't go down without a fight, as the outcome was in doubt until the Chiefs forced and recovered a fumble with 1:34 remaining.
"I know what their record is," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "We also know the quality of the coaching and the quality of the players that they have. This was a good one for us."
The Chiefs received contributions from all three phases of their team, but they couldn't put any two together at one time. The offense had a good first half but struggled in the second half, finishing with 357 total yards and rushing touchdowns from running back Jamaal Charles and quarterback Alex Smith. The defense started slowly, then turned up the heat in the second half and finished the game with five sacks, half of those from outside linebacker Tamba Hali.
Hali's final sack forced the fumble from Houston quarterback Case Keenum. Derrick Johnson recovered to seal the win.
The Texans had a painful day. They lost running back Arian Foster in the first quarter when he re-injured a hamstring he was nursing for several weeks. In the third quarter, linebacker Brian Cushing left with a left knee injury, and he was helped from the field by two trainers.
Speaking after the game outside the Texans locker room, team owner Robert McNair said it was a serious injury. On crutches in the locker room, Cushing would not speak to reporters, saying he wanted to get MRI results first. It was the same knee on which he suffered a torn ACL that ended his season last year.
Houston's starting quarterback, Matt Schaub, was inactive for the game because of a leg injury, so Keenum got his first chance to play in a regular-season NFL game.
Keenum did not display any jitters, completing 15 of 25 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown. He also was careful with the ball all day. His only turnover was the game-clinching fumble.
"I'm really disappointed and frustrated," Keenum said after the game. "We put our offense in a position to go down and win the game, and we didn't. I didn't make the plays there at the end."
Charles produced 86 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. Smith went 23-for-34 for 240 yards with one interception.
Houston got great field position early in the third quarter when Charles fumbled the ball and the Texans recovered at the Chiefs 28-yard line. Keenum connected with tight end Garrett Graham for 27 yards to the 1-yard line. However, an unsuccessful sneak by Keenum, a Greg Jones run and an incomplete pass to rookie DeAndre Hopkins in the end zone brought Randy Bullock out for a 21-yard field goal, and the Texans trailed just 14-13.
"The sneak, I wish that would have got in," Keenum said. "And I can make a better ball to DeAndre down there. It's a matchup we love, and it's one of those plays where I want the ball back."
The teams traded field goals later in the third quarter, as Ryan Succop hit from 22 yards for Kansas City and Bullock was good from 47 yards for Houston. Neither team scored in the fourth quarter.
The Chiefs stopped the last four Houston possessions with sacks, forcing two fumbles, recovering one and sealing the victory.
"You win in this league with great defense," Reid said. "You can't be successful like we are without having a great defense. We have to do a better job on the offensive side. The defense is doing a phenomenal job."
Behind Keenum, Houston controlled the first-half tempo. On their first possession, the Texans kept the ball for 4:55 and 10 plays before settling for a 48-yard field goal by Bullock.
Kansas City answered with an 82-yard, 11-play drive, and Charles scored on a 1-yard run. Big plays in the possession included a third-down pass for 21 yards to wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and a 15-yard roughing-the-passer call on Houston defensive end Jared Crick. The PAT kick put the Chiefs up 7-3.
The Texans came back with another scoring drive, as Keenum threw his first NFL touchdown pass on the first play of the second quarter. Hopkins beat Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith down the left side and was open in the end zone for a 29-yard score. Houston led 10-7.
A sputtering Chiefs offense finally put together a strong possession, as Alex Smith led them 97 yards in 15 plays before he scored on a 5-yard run on third-and-goal in the last minute of the half. The Chiefs led 14-10 at halftime.
NOTES: Foster went out after his fourth carry on the Texans' first possession. He finished with 11 yards, as he did not step on the field again. ... The Chiefs' 97-yard scoring drive was their longest of the season. ... Keenum's last start was Jan. 2, 2012, in the Ticket City Bowl in Dallas, where his University of Houston team beat Penn State 30-14. He threw for 532 yards and three touchdowns.