Alex Smith threw for 293 yards, but it was with his legs that he really hurt the Washington Redskins to lead the Kansas City Chiefs to a 29-20 victory on Monday.
Smith ran for 56 yards and scrambled out of the pocket in the final minute to find Albert Wilson up the sideline for a 37-yard gain to set up Harrison Butker's 43-yard field goal to lift the Chiefs to victory at Arrowhead Stadium.
Butker, a rookie signed off the Carolina Panthers practice squad earlier in the week, was playing in his first NFL game and came through in the clutch after missing a field goal attempt before half-time.
The Chiefs (4-0) remain the NFL's only undefeated team and have the league's most balanced offense. While Smith was getting it done through the air, rookie running back Kareem Hunt ran for 101 yards on 21 carries.
It was not easy for the Chiefs as the Redskins' defense dominated early, but a slew of Washington injuries benefited Kansas City late.
The Redskins (2-2) started hot, driving 75 yards in six plays on the opening series to grab a 7-0 lead on a 44-yard pass from Kirk Cousins to Terrelle Pryor. The former Cleveland Browns receiver and Ohio State quarterback went over the top of Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters, who wanted an offensive pass interference penalty called.
Washington added a field goal before the Chiefs twice drove into Redskins territory in the second quarter, but came away without points. A third trip did the job as Smith connected with tight end Travis Kelce for a 17-yard touchdown out of the two-minute warning.
The Redskins lost Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman with a rib injury that could see him miss multiple games. Norman was not the only player injured Monday as the Redskins also lost running back Rob Kelley with an ankle injury and linebacker Martrell Spaight with injured ribs. Spaight did later return for the fourth quarter, but rookie safety Montae Nicholson left shortly thereafter.
Kansas City took advantage of the injuries to the Washington defense, grabbing a 14-10 lead on the opening series of the second half.
Washington answered with a quick three-play, 75-yard touchdown drive of their own and the Chiefs added a field goal to tie it at 17-17 entering the fourth quarter.
The Chiefs then ate up the clock with a 14-play, 66-yard drive that ended with Butker's go-ahead 32-yard field goal with four minutes, 51 seconds remaining. Cousins led the Redskins back downfield, mostly with his legs, to get a game-tying field goal with 47 seconds remaining. Cousins finished with 227 passing yards, going 13 of 23 through the air with two touchdowns and another 38 yards on the ground.
That is when Smith went to work to lead the game-winning drive, sparked by his scrambling toss to Wilson.
The Redskins got the ball following the ensuing kick-off with five seconds remaining and tried multiple laterals to generate something, but the ball was fumbled and Justin Houston returned it for a final-play touchdown.
As the Redskins kept losing defensive players, Hunt got stronger as the Chiefs wore down the Washington defense. Hunt topped 100 yards for the fourth straight game and the rookie joined Adrian Peterson, Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson and former Detroit Lions running back Billy Sims as the only players to begin their NFL careers with four consecutive 100-yard rushing games.
"There are so many different ways to win in this league," Smith told ESPN. "You can't be one-dimensional and we sort of have that makeup."
ALONE ON TOP
Kansas City have proven to be the real deal and Smith is playing the best football of his career. Even after the Chiefs lost guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif with a knee injury on the opening series, they got better offensively and dominated time of possession over the final three quarters.
The Chiefs now have road wins over the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Chargers and have beaten the Philadelphia Eagles and Redskins at Arrowhead. They will head to Houston next week to face a Texans team that scored 57 points on Sunday.
Washington's loss was costly, especially with the injury to Norman. The Redskins were able to hang with the NFL's best team thus far, but the good news is they are entering their bye week before an October 15 game against the San Francisco 49ers.