KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — There was never a question that Brett Veach, one of the most aggressive general managers in the NFL, would pursue two-time All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell to join the Kansas City Chiefs' electrifying offense.
The question was whether Bell would fit.
The returns from Game 1 on Sunday couldn't have been much better. Rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire still ran eight times for 46 yards and a score, and Bell averaged 6 1/2 yards per carry on his six attempts, helping their offense play a solid supporting role for their defense and special teams in a 43-16 rout of the AFC West-rival Denver Broncos.
“It was good to see Le'Veon get out and have an opportunity to carry it,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Monday, “and you saw the things he's capable of doing. And it all starts up front with the guys blocking. I thought they did a nice job.”
The pass protection wasn't nearly as good, but it didn't need to be. The Chiefs only ran 47 offensive plays thanks to a pick-6 by Daniel Sorensen and a kickoff return touchdown by Byron Pringle with Patrick Mahomes and Co. on the sideline.
“So the defense’s snaps were way up. The offense's snaps were way down,” Reid said. “We weren't able to get the whole game plan going the way we wanted, and the rhythm — by that point we're way up — and that's a good thing. That makes the head coach very happy. But it cuts down on the opportunities for the offense to do its thing.”
Mahomes still finished with 200 yards passing and a touchdown without an interception, and wide receiver Tyreek Hill finally got involved in the offense with a second-half score. Travis Kelce only had three catches for 31 yards, but again, the Chiefs didn't need much offense from their star tight end in a game that got out of hand early.
“I thought Clyde obviously continued to put up tough runs and break tackles and get different types of stuff,” Mahomes said, “and I thought Le'Veon did a great job of coming in off a week of practice where you only get a couple days and being able to step right in and have a few big runs and really get his footing. Obviously there's still some little details that we need to work out here and there, but for someone to come in and have success like that early is really exciting.”
The defense of coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is back on track after it was torched by Derek Carr and the Raiders in a 40-32 loss at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs were stingy against Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills and dominated the Broncos, who got much of their yardage in mop-up time in the fourth quarter.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The kicking game remains iffy after Harrison Butker missed another extra point, though Reid said he's not concerned about it. Part of the problem is breaking in a new holder in Tommy Townsend, who replaced long-time punter Dustin Colquitt.
Sorensen did more than just return an interception for a touchdown. He delivered a crushing blow that knocked Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay from the game, and he wound up tied for the team lead with nine tackles.
Running back Darrel Williams didn't get a carry and second-year pro Darwin Thompson was inactive as the Chiefs went with Edwards-Helaire, Bell and veteran DeAndre Washington in the backfield.
The Chiefs escaped without any injuries on Sunday. They hope to have wide receiver Sammy Watkins and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz healthy soon, which would only add more firepower to their offense.
1 — That's the number of wins Reid needs to match Curly Lambeau (229) for the fifth most in NFL history. Ahead of him are Don Shula (347), George Halas (324), Bill Belichick (306) and Tom Landry (270).
The Chiefs return home to face the winless New York Jets, the bumbling team that waived Bell last week less than two years into his contract when his relationship with coach Adam Gase went sideways.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL