The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 38-17 in their preseason opener at Arrowhead Stadium.
Here are the winners and losers from the game:
- Patrick Mahomes looked just as athletic and accurate as he did last season. He only led one drive, but he was perfect: 4-of-4 for 66 yards, and he pushed the Chiefs to the goal line with a clean 10-yard scramble. He connected on passes to Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins, Anthony Sherman and Blake Bell, keeping up last year’s trend of throwing to multiple targets. If Mahomes is going to have a regression from his MVP season, he’s hiding it very well so far.
- Just in case you didn’t already know, Mecole Hardman is very fast — and proved as much against the Bengals. Hardman took his first NFL touch to the house, racing 17 yards to the end zone on a shovel pass from Kyle Shurmur. He finished the game with two catches for 32 yards and a touchdown.
- The shortest guy on the field made some big moves on Saturday. Darwin Thompson showed why people call him D-TRAIN — breaking plenty of tackles on the five carries he got against the Bengals. He also showed his effectiveness in the passing game, taking a short pass 29 yards for his first NFL touchdown. He even made a highlight of a huge block he made picking up a blitz in the second quarter. Some were worried about Thompson’s height keeping him from being effective in the NFL, and Saturday’s performance may have quieted some of those doubts.
- Blake Bell saw plenty of action on Saturday — taking a short pass from Mahomes 23 yards and leading the Chiefs’ receivers with 37 yards. It seems the battle for the second tight end position is between Bell and Deon Yelder — and after this performance, I’d say Bell has a slight lead.
- Missouri Western and Northwest Missouri product Josh Caldwell isn’t often in the conversation for the top four or five running backs on the team, but he tried to make his case on Saturday. He took five carries for 59 yards — including a 47-yard run followed by a 4-yard touchdown. It isn’t likely that he’ll make the roster — but in the preseason, any time a player can add to their highlight reel is considered a win.
- Many were hopeful that Charvarius Ward would be much improved from last year, but so far he’s off to a bad start. He gave a up a couple of huge plays, including a 26-yard pass that set the Bengals up for a touchdown on their opening drive. This is certainly bad news for a team that’s pretty desperate at corner.
- The battle for the third quarterback spot is heating up — and Chase Litton might’ve hurt his case on Saturday. He completed 10 out of 14 passes and threw an interception in the third quarter. Otherwise he was quite productive. He threw two touchdowns that helped to make up for his mistake, but he’s going to have to limit the turnovers in order to stay on the roster for another year.
- The Bengals special teams did not have a great start to their preseason. Cincinnati had three muffed punts — by two different returners — and lost two of them. Both turnovers led to Chiefs touchdowns.
- Bengals defensive back Brandon Wilson made an amazing play, picking off Shurmur late in the second quarter by catching a pass deflected off Byron Pringle — that is, until the play was reviewed and officials declared “clear and obvious contact” on the defense to reverse the call. A potential highlight play for the third-year player was squashed.
- The Chiefs have some tough decisions to make at the wide receiver position — and if Byron Pringle is going to survive, he needs to improve on Saturday’s performance. While he didn’t drop any passes, Pringle failed to haul in any of his three targets. While it may not have been completely his fault, he needs to find a way to stand out in order to make the roster — perhaps at kick returner.
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