KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- With the Houston Texans a yard from taking the lead in the third quarter on Sunday, inside linebacker Derrick Johnson went from player to player in the defensive huddle.
Johnson preached the credo the Chiefs' defense has lived by all season.
Johnson gestured to the Texans and pointed to the white goal line.
"I kept telling guys, 'They're not in until they're in,' " Johnson said after the 17-16 victory over the Texans at Arrowhead Stadium.
Indeed, the Texans didn't get in.
The Chiefs' defense, for the second time in the last three weeks, put up a goal-line stand that has defined this team during its run to 7-0 and first place in the AFC West and will determine just how far it will go in the postseason.
--Through seven games, the Chiefs have not allowed more than 17 points in any game this season, and they are allowing a paltry 11.6 points per game, which is on pace to break the franchise record 12.1 set by the 1968 club and is threatening the NFL-record 10.3 points for a 16-game season set by the Baltimore Ravens in their Super Bowl winning season of 2000.
--The Chiefs, who entered the weekend ranked second in red-zone defense, kept Houston out of the end zone on the goal-line stand in the Texans' only possession inside the 20. So for the season, the Chiefs have allowed opponents just two touchdowns in nine possessions inside the 20, or just 22 percent.
--The Chiefs, who entered the weekend ranked first in the NFL in third-down defense at 24.1 percent (allowing just 20 of 83 third-down conversions), allowed four of 12 on Sunday, should still be among the league leaders at 25.3 percent.
--The Chiefs, with five sacks on Sunday, ran their league-leading total to 35 and maintained their pace to get 80 sacks, which would shatter the league-record of 72 set by the 1984 Chicago Bears.
"We never get flustered," Johnson said of the Chiefs' defense. "Our confidence level always stays up. "We pride ourselves on not letting teams score touchdowns. If you score three points, it's going to be hard to beat the Chiefs."
Two weeks ago at Tennessee, the Titans tried four plays from the 1 and came away with no points in a game the Chiefs won 26-17.
On Sunday, the Texans, trailing 14-10 with 11 minutes to play in the third quarter, had first and goal from the 1.
Because both Houston running backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate were injured and out of the game, quarterback Case Keenum tried a sneak, but Tyson Jackson stopped him for no gain.
"That definitely helped," Chiefs free safety Kendrick Lewis said of the Texans' running-back situation. "You knew that made them one-dimensional. We knew we were going to get the quarterback sneak, and we did a great job on first down with our front. We got penetration and got them stopped for no gain. As the plays progressed, we said, 'We need this stop. Let's get them . . . let's get them . . .' "
On second and goal, fullback Greg Jones tried the right side, but Lewis submarined in and dropped Jones for a 2-yard loss.
" I was able to shoot a gap and smoke it. It was great play by our front seven to keep me free," Lewis said. "I was lined up like a linebacker, and nobody touched me."
And on third down, Keenum tried a fade to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, but Chiefs cornerback Marcus Cooper broke up the pass in the corner of the end zone.
"That was big time," Lewis said of Cooper's play. "Cooper's play was big-time, too. That was a deal when everyone had to be accountable, and he held his own. We knew we couldn't let them score a touchdown.
"We had to deny them. We couldn't give up seven at that moment. It was too clutch in the game. We had to force those guys to a field goal or even try to get the ball back."
Texans coach Gary Kubiak elected to kick a field goal, and Randy Bullock's 21-yarder made it 14-13, but Houston would get no closer.
The two teams traded field goals later in the quarter, and the Chiefs totally put the clamps on Houston in the fourth quarter when they rolled up four of their five sacks, including 2.5 by outside linebacker Tamba Hali.
"We love it when we're up in the fourth quarter," Johnson said. "(Defensive coordinator) Bob Sutton calls his blitzes and exotic plays for us to get to the quarterback."
The Chiefs have allowed only 17 points all season in the fourth quarter. They have shut out the last two opponents -- and three out of the last four -- in the final period.
"We practice long, so in the second half, we have energy to play the game longer," Hali said. "Credit the coaches. I remember in past years, when the fourth quarter came, we lose. That's not happening. We're so anxious to be in the fourth quarter to go out and make plays."
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