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Eric Berry: Justin Houston 'just getting his feet wet'

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The unprecedented coaching conundrums and bizarre final 20 minutes in Kansas City's Week 12 victory over Denver overshadowed a dominant return to form by Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston.

Nine months removed from ACL surgery, Houston almost single-handedly stymied the Broncos' offense for the entire first half. By night's end, the four-time Pro Bowl edge rusher had racked up three sacks, four tackles for loss, four QB hits, nine QB pressures and 10 defensive "stops." He even stripped Trevor Siemian in the end zone for a safety and a free kick that dynamic rookie Tyreek Hill returned for a touchdown.

Per Pro Football Focus, a stop is defined as any play that prevents offensive success -- such as gaining 40 percent of required yardage on first down, 60 percent on second down, and the entire required yardage on third or fourth down.

To put Houston's dismantling of Denver right tackles Ty Sambrailo and Donald Stephenson into perspective, fellow Kansas City pass rusher Tamba Hali -- a five-time Pro Bowl selection in his own right -- has 11 defensive stops for the entire season.

It's not hyperbole to suggest that Houston's performance is one of the most impressive we've ever seen from a player in his second game back from major surgery. To hear veteran safety Eric Berry tell it, though, Houston is only knocking the rust off as the Chiefs battle for a playoff spot in the season's final month.

"Justin Houston is just getting his feet wet," Berry told NFL Network's James Palmer. "Nobody has seen anything yet."

Houston was the NFL's most effective pass rusher prior to the 2015 knee injury, recording 33 sacks in 27 games from 2013 to 2014. If he has truly recaptured the form that had him in the running for Defensive Player of the Year honors two years ago, Kansas City's trio of Houston, Hali and Dee Ford has the potential to challenge Denver's edge rushers as the league's most feared.

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