News & Analysis

The real Justin Houston is back for Kansas City

Justin Houston earned 90.0-plus overall grades in three consecutive seasons (2013-15) before missing significant portions of his 2015 and 2016 seasons with a torn ACL, and his subsequent performances suggested he’d never return to form. Houston put an end to such thoughts on Sunday.

The eight-year veteran edge defender put together a vintage performance in the Kansas City Chiefs’ convincing win over the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3. He recorded six total pressures (four hurries, two sacks) across 27 pass-rushing snaps, two forced fumbles and an additional two defensive stops in the contest, and he looked good (and healthy) doing so.

Houston rushed exclusively off the defense’s left edge to help introduce first-round rookie offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey to the NFL. At 29 years young, Houston took McGlinchey to school in run defense and passing downs, beating him multiple times to affect San Francisco’s rushing attack and put pressure on quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Here, Houston pushes around the edge of McGlinchey with relative ease to record a strip-sack before Garoppolo even knows he’s coming.

49ers second-year tight end George Kittle also received his fair share of abuse when he was asked to lighten the load for McGlinchey in pass protection. Kittle and McGlinchey finished the contest with team-low 38.1 and 35.1 pass-block grades, respectively.

Houston earned a 91.2 overall grade and 92.6 pass-rush grade against San Francisco, both of which being the best marks for him since Week 15 of the 2017 season. He has now earned a 90.0-plus overall grade in just three of his last 25 games, but his performance on Sunday marks a turning of the tides for the wily veteran.

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