GAME OBSERVATIONS

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Beyond the Surface: 10 Observations from Chiefs vs. Falcons

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Atlanta Falcons on the road Friday night by a score of 28-14 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the second preseason game of the year for both teams.

Here are 10 observations from the game:

1. Patrick Mahomes threw a touchdown that people probably won't stop talking about

With 28 seconds left in the first half and facing a second-and-5 from the Chiefs' 31-yard line, Patrick Mahomes dropped back, stepped up in the pocket with defenders crashing around him and fired the ball exactly 68.6 yards down the field in the air into the waiting arms of Tyreek Hill, who did the rest to cap off the 69-yard touchdown play.

According to NextGen Stats, that would have been the longest throw (in the air) in the entire NFL all of last season.

For those who haven't watched or heard anything about Mahomes—he has an absolute cannon and he showed it off on that play, and people will be talking about it for a while. It was also the first touchdown of the preseason for the Chiefs' first-team offense.

And for Hill, who led all receivers in the game with four receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown, making big plays is nothing new to him. In his two-year career, Hill has six touchdowns of 60 or more yards, which is the most for any player in the league.

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2. Overall, the Chiefs' offense was pretty good on Friday night

In addition to the long throw to Hill, the Chiefs' first-team offense also drove down the field early in the second quarter and got a field goal.

Coach Reid said at halftime that the drive should have resulted in a touchdown but a few penalties hurt them on that drive, which included an illegal formation penalty on a touchdown pass to running back Kareem Hunt that was called back.

A third-down pass from Mahomes that was intended for Sammy Watkins in the back of the end zone fell incomplete after a Falcons' defender came across and almost had the interception. Reid said after the game that he felt Watkins could have come back towards the ball on the play.

Ultimately, the Chiefs went 73 yards on 13 plays on the drive before the 25-yard field goal from Harrison Butker got them on the board.

Mahomes finished the night 8 of 12 for 138 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The interception came on a deep pass that Mahomes said after the game that he forced.

The Chiefs' offensive line played well enough that Mahomes wasn't hit a single time. It's a good sign for a group that was challenged coming off the game against the Texans, where Mahomes was hit several times on just a handful of plays.

But after not scoring on either of their drives last week, it was good to see the Chiefs' offense get something going against the Falcons.

After Mahomes, Chad Henne and Matt McGloin both played pretty well also. They combined to go 17 of 20 for 143 yards and a touchdown.

3. Undrafted rookie free agent Ben Niemann has another big game

After leading the team in tackles last week, Ben Niemann—the undrafted rookie out of Iowa—followed it up with another solid performance on Friday night against the Falcons.

Niemann, who worked in with the defense as early as the second quarter, finished the game with four tackles, but it was his interception off Falcons' quarterback Kurt Benkert that he returned 26 yards for the touchdown that will be remembered the most.

After the game, Niemann said the Chiefs' equipment guys saved the ball for him, but he doesn't know what to do with it yet. He said he's going to "ask one of the veterans like Anthony Hitchens" what he's supposed to do with it.

4. Chad Henne hit Gehrig Dieter with a beautiful touchdown pass

It's the second-straight week that Henne has put together a solid performance.

He finished the game 8 of 10 for 85 yards and a touchdown—finding receiver Gehrig Dieter for a 27-yard score on the opening drive of the second half. It capped off a 10-play, 76-yard drive that gave the Chiefs the lead at 17-14, and they would never trail again.

Dieter said after the game that based on the press coverage and the fact that there wasn't a safety over the top, he only had to win on his release and he knew the ball was probably coming his way.

It did, and Dieter did win off the line and it all resulted in a touchdown.

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5. The defense comes up with two fourth-down stops in the red zone

It's probably not the way the situations would be handled in the regular season, but it was still good to see the Chiefs' defense have to step up and make a play on fourth down.

On the Falcons' second offensive drive, which began midway through the first quarter, they began at their own 11-yard line and proceeded all the way down to the Chiefs' 20-yard line. That's when rather than kick a simple field goal, Matt Ryan and the Falcons' offense attempted a pass to rookie receiver Calvin Ridley on fourth-and-2. It fell incomplete as cornerback Kendall Fuller was there to break it up.

Then, when facing a fourth-and-1 from the Chiefs' 8-yard line late in the second quarter, rookie defensive lineman Derrick Nnadi fought his way to the tackle that resulted in no gain and gave the Chiefs the ball back.

It was a nice display from the Chiefs' defense with their backs against the wall—first by Fuller, and then by Nnadi.

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6. You may have missed this on the broadcast

It didn't make it to the television broadcast (outside of Houston being asked about it during an interview) but during a commercial break early in the second quarter, outside linebacker Justin Houston walked out onto the field and was talking to the offensive lineman in the huddle.

It was a cool display of leadership from one of the best defensive players on the team. It's not something you necessarily see often.

7. Nnadi's debut was memorable

After not playing last week because of an elbow injury suffered at training camp, Nnadi—the Chiefs' third-round pick out of Florida State—made his NFL debut Friday night.

And he made his presence felt—finishing with three tackles and a sack—the Chiefs' first of the preseason. He also found himself in the backfield and causing disruption on multiple plays, including that key fourth-down stop late in the first half.

Overall, it was a good debut for the rookie.

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8. Kendall Fuller continues to show what he's about

Without starters in defensive lineman Allen Bailey, along with inside linebackers Reggie Ragland and Anthony Hitchens, or even veteran safety Eric Berry—the middle of the Chiefs' defense is going to have a whole different look by the time the regular season is here.

But one guy who has shown what he's about throughout the preseason is Fuller, who continues to prove everyone right who has considered him one of the top cornerbacks in all of football. He looks like it.

From the very first play of the game, Fuller was making plays—breaking up two passes thrown his direction on the night, which also included that fourth-down breakup.

Fuller is as good as advertised, if not better.

9. Two more rookies get involved in a takeaway

With less than a minute remaining in the game, Chiefs' rookie fourth-round pick Armani Watts sealed the win with a play that was very reminiscent of the playmaking we saw from him during his time at Texans A&M, where he forced 16 turnovers in his career.

Watts was able to punch the ball out of the hands of the Falcons' ball carrier across the middle while another rookie—linebacker Raymond Davison, was able to recover the fumble.

It's worth mentioning that sixth-round pick Tremon Smith also had a nice game. He had a nice pass breakup on a third-down play late in the third quarter, and then on the next play, Smith broke free down the sideline on the punt return for a 37-yard return.

10. The injury report

After the game, Reid gave an injury update on two players.

Cornerback Steve Nelson is in the concussion protocol after taking a hit to the head early in the game, and linebacker Terrance Smith "tweaked" his ankle, but it's not considered serious.

Photos from the Chiefs vs. Falcons preseason game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

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