Throughout the first half of the season, there has been one surprise in the NFL that has been larger than that of any other: the greatness that has been Kansas City. The Kansas City Chiefs are sitting atop the AFC West by a handful of games and they recently broke a minor two-game slide with a stand-out win over the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football. The reason? Defense, baby.

When the Kansas City Chiefs took the field on Monday Night they faced, perhaps, their toughest test of the season. Kansas City faced their first taste of adversity after losing a pair of games. The Chiefs were taking on a Denver team that has one of the most dominant defenses in all of football. QB Alex Smith is having a career year but the continued assumption that he is nothing more than a check-down game manager meant that Smith was going to be under fire throughout this game. While all of the prior offense-oriented critiques permeated the headlines, it was Kansas City’s defense that stepped up to the plate in the 29 – 19 win and leading the way was veteran Justin Houston.

Justin Houston has been in the NFL for a long time, seven years, in fact, so he knew that he had to stand up and lead in the room. Houston said, “I’m from a big family, so I understand there are times to follow, and there are times to lead.” Houston gave a rallying pre-game speech that helped to fire up the Chief’s locker room and the rest would be history. The Chiefs would have a defensive touchdown in the game that would go on to punctuate the effectiveness of QB Alex Smith and the Kansas City offense. Now, the Chiefs have to keep stringing those wins together.