Chiefs' pass rush rates with anyone, even the Rams

Chris Jones had two of the Chiefs' five sacks against the Cardinals. EPA/LARRY W. SMITH

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs' pass rush can compare with the best in the NFL, and that includes the celebrated group from the Los Angeles Rams, their opponents in next Monday night's showdown in Mexico City.

The Chiefs vaulted into a tie for second place in sacks with 31 after getting Arizona Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen five times in Sunday's 26-14 win at Arrowhead Stadium. Only the Pittsburgh Steelers with 36 have more.

The Minnesota Vikings also have 31 sacks. The Rams have 26.

"We take a lot of pride," said linebacker Justin Houston, who returned against the Cardinals after missing the previous four games because of a sore hamstring. "As a defense, we haven't been playing well all season. So we're trying to turn this around and we are trying to get this thing in the right direction because we have goals. As a whole, we know that if we want to win this whole thing, the defense has got to play better week in and week out.

"I think it's a great start. We have to continue to build on it."

Houston didn't have a sack on Sunday, but he pressured Rosen into an errant throw on a screen pass in the fourth quarter that led to a Chiefs touchdown. He had plenty of pass-rush help against the Cardinals, with Chris Jones getting two sacks and Dee Ford, Allen Bailey and Ron Parker getting one apiece.

Ford leads the Chiefs with nine, followed by Jones with seven and Bailey with five. Jones has at least one sack in each of the past six games.

"Every week, that's really what we preach," Ford said. "When you pressure the quarterback, mistakes happen. Turnovers happen. This is just our way of playing defense."

The Chiefs have benefited from playing with the lead, on occasion a sizable one, in many of their games. They led for all but about six minutes against the Cardinals and didn't need to be concerned as much about Arizona's running game as they would have in a game in which they were tied or behind.

"That's great for us because we can go after the quarterback," Ford said.

The game against the Cardinals was the third time this season the Chiefs have had at least four sacks. They had one sack in each of the first two games of the season but at least two in every game since.

The return of Houston adds an experienced and productive rusher. He led the NFL in 2014 with 22 sacks, and though he hasn't approached that total since, his presence is an important one over the long haul.

"You could argue he had the biggest play of the game," coach Andy Reid said. "It was great to get him back in there ... and get a little rust knocked off. Then to come through and make a huge play for us, I was proud of him for that."

Houston said he would play better after getting his return out of the way.

"A little out of shape after missing a couple of games," he said. "Getting my wind and feet under me. I wasn't disappointed to come back and join the guys."