The final score in Thursday night's season opener wasn't indicative of the way the game unfolded.
The box score will say the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Houston Texans, 34-20. Per usual, the box score stretches the truth. The game never felt close after halftime, as the Chiefs danced to a 31-7 lead.
Two garbage-time touchdowns from the Texans made it a closer final score. The end also rankled the undergarments of star safety Tyrann Mathieu.
"I'm pissed off," Mathieu said after the win, via the K.C. Star. "I felt like we played fairly decent up until the last couple of stretches in the fourth quarter. We started giving up big plays, big chunks."
After giving up an 80-yard touchdown drive on the Texans' second possession, the K.C. defense held Houston in check, allowing just eight first downs over the next four drives for 130 yards with two punts, a missed field goal and an interception. In that time, Patrick Mahomes and rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire took over and put the game out of reach.
On two late scoring drives, the Texans earned 140 of their 360 yards and nine of their 21 first downs.
"We have a lot more work to do," Mathieu said. "We could have held those guys to seven points."
The K.C. defense sacked Deshaun Watson four times with the defensive front causing havoc on the Texans offensive line. Frank Clark and Chris Jones were particularly disruptive, discombobulating Watson on seemingly every dropback.
The Chiefs also forced a Watson interception on a blitz by the Honey Badger, who forced a wobbly floater that made an easy interception for rookie corner L'Jarius Sneed, who enjoyed a solid start to his career.
"I was just doing my job," Mathieu said. "Trying my best to make an impact on the play. A lot of what I do doesn't show up on the stat sheet. I'm just happy that he caught it. We left a lot of those interceptions on the field last year. I think we dropped 10 or 11 as a group. To see the kid focus in, lock in, catch the ball and show his speed, that's why he's starting for us right now."
Mathieu's disappointment in the Chiefs allowing late scores to ruin a big-time blowout underscores the expectations of a team that isn't focused on simply getting the win Thursday. Perfection is the goal. Even if it's never attainable, perfection is to be strived for. It's how all great teams operate.