The Kansas City Chiefs used three returns for touchdowns to compensate for a first-string offense that was stuck in neutral and a secondary that was overmatched for most of the game and beat the Cincinnati Bengals 41-39 in their first preseason game at Arrowhead Stadium Thursday night.
Sean Smith and Malcolm Bronson returned interceptions for scores, while De'Anthony Thomas brought back a punt 80 yards for another touchdown in route to an impressive 238 return yards on the night. Thomas and Smith scored their touchdowns 16 seconds apart on consecutive plays at the end of the first quarter what looked to be a potential blowout for the Bengals turned into a 17-10 Chiefs lead going into the second quarter.
The Bengals sandwiched two second-quarter touchdowns around a 28-yard field goal by Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos and looked like they were going to go into halftime with a 24-20 lead.
However, Chiefs back-up quarterback Chase Daniel atoned for the pick-six interception he had thrown earlier in the quarter to Cincinnati by hitting tight end Travis Kelce with a perfect pass and Kelce outran the Bengal secondary for a 69-yard touchdown with 21 seconds remaining in the half. Kelce’s speed he flashed on the post pattern was impressive and eased concerns about any lingering effects of the injury that cost him the entire 2013 season.
Bronson’s 51-yard interception return for a touchdown accounted for the only scoring by either team in the third quarter and gave the Chiefs a 34-24 lead going into the fourth quarter.
At this point, the third and fourth-stringers were in the game and Cincinnati once again sandwiched two touchdowns around a Cyrus Gray 2-yard touchdown run for KC. When Cincinnati made their two-point conversion on the second touchdown with 51 seconds left in the game, it cut the Chiefs lead to two points and had the announced crowd of 70,951 holding their breath in anticipation of the ensuing onsides kick.
But Chiefs rookie wide receiver Darryl Surgent smothered the kick at the 40-yard line and allowed the Chiefs to run out the last few seconds of the game and escape with one of the more exciting wins you will ever see in a preseason game.
The good news for the Chiefs is that the contributions from the first- and second-year players Head Coach Andy Reid and GM John Dorsey have brought in may pay big dividends immediately for the team in 2014. Aside from De’Anthony Thomas’s obvious game-changing skills, receiver Albert Wilson, cornerback Phillip Gaines, linebackers Dee Ford and James-Michael Johnson, along with tight end Kelce all flashed some excellent skills that can help this team win.
The bad side of the coin is that Eric Fisher still had some problems with the Bengals’ Robert Geathers, and gave up a sack on a bull rush that accounted for Smith’s fumble early in the first quarter.
The Chiefs had three costly turnovers by their quarterbacks (Smith and Tyler Bray fumbled, and Daniel threw a pick-six interception) that led to 21 Cincinnati points. The Chiefs 2013 success was due in large part to the team’s paltry sum of 18 turnovers for the year, second-lowest in the league.
The secondary struggled mightily all evening, getting beat on several long passes or committing too many holding calls that gave the Bengals automatic first downs. Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry did not suit up for the game for precautionary reasons, which didn’t help.
However, starting cornerback Ron Parker had the kind of game that gives you nightmares for years. The Bengals picked on him from the get-go and Parker was beaten by A.J. Green for a 53-yard gain during the first series and a touchdown to Brandon Tate on Cincinnati’s second series. He also got whistled for illegal contact that gave the Bengals a first down.
His night got worse when he was replaced by Sean Smith, who immediately scored a TD on that pick-six after coming into the game.
Luckily, the Chiefs have plenty of time to work out the rough spots in practice because they don’t play again for 10 days. Their next game is August 17 on the road against the Carolina Panthers.
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