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3-0 Oilers change their approach, still win


HOUSTON -- The Houston Oilers stayed undefeated last night by beating the Kansas City Chiefs at their own slow-down game 17-7.

It was more impressive than the Oilers' first two blowouts against the Los Angeles Raiders (47-17) and Cincinnati Bengals (30-7) because it revealed that coach Jack Pardee's team has as much patience as it has firepower. The combination means trouble for the NFL's American Conference.

Warren Moon's 4-yard touchdown pass to Haywood Jeffires on the last play of the third quarter broke a 7-7 tie at the end of a 93-yard drive. Cris Dishman's interception in the end zone of a Steve DeBerg pass with 9:40 left sealed it. The Chiefs never got the ball back.

The Oilers overcame the Chiefs' powerful running attack by finishing the game with two nine-minute drives of their own, something the run-and-shoot offense is not supposed to be able to do.

The Oilers joined the Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints, Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins as the only 3-0 teams in the league. For the Oilers, it was uncharted territory. Never in their history have they enjoyed such a start.

"We're proud of that," Pardee said. "We've been fortunate enough to beat three teams with better records than we had last year."

The Chiefs were determined to erase the memory of Moon's 527-yard passing day against them last year. It was the second-best day in NFL history behind Norm Van Brocklin's 554 yards in 1951. The Chiefs had prepared all offseason for the rematch, but they had to play it wounded.

Without cornerbacks Albert Lewis (knee) and Jayice Pearson (toe) and with other defensive backs ailing, the Chiefs went to a deep zone with six backs and rushed Moon with their tough four-man front.

Their big-back running attack of Christian Okoye and Barry Word controlled the ball, but when DeBerg finally tried to burn the Oilers with his patented play-action passes, Dishman and friends were ready.

"We knew sooner or later they were going to go play-action with Okoye and Word pounding at you, so Richard [Johnson] and I were just playing for the play-action," Dishman said.

After the play, Dishman was penalized for excessive celebration for merely jumping in the air and faking a throw into the stands.

"That's what the league's coming to -- no celebrations after a big play or touchdown. I'll know next time not to make any gesture at all," Dishman said.

Moon finished with 29 completions in 38 attempts for 233 yards.

"They played a very soft zone and forced me to be very patient," Moon said. "The second half, we got rid of the ball a little quicker than in the first half. They weren't letting the deeper routes develop."

Moon's longest pass was a 19-yarder to Ernest Givins. Jeffires caught nine passes, none longer than 12 yards.

"The shorter routes really frustrate a defense. The pass-rushers get tired and as the drive gets longer, you're able to do what you want," Moon said.

After Dishman's interception, the Oilers drove 80 yards and wrapped it up with a 23-yard field goal by Ian Howfield.

"We played well, but it wasn't enough," Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "This is a good Houston football team and everybody knows they are tough as hell to beat here."

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