The Kansas City Chiefs wrapped up the preseason with a victory on Thursday night, defeating the Green Bay Packers, 17-10, behind strong outings from several young players.
"It was a good game to get the young guys into, and I thought they did a nice job of finishing it out," said Head Coach Andy Reid. "We were able to get the run game going a little bit, which we needed to do coming off the last two games. I thought, all in all, [we] got a good evaluation of the young players."
Quarterback Shane Buechele was among those top performers, completing 11-of-17 passes for 166 yards and two scores. His target on both touchdown passes was tight end Matt Bushman, who hauled in a 54-yard score late in the first half before catching a 2-yard touchdown early in the third quarter. Bushman finished the game with three receptions for 73 yards prior to leaving with a shoulder injury.
Rookie tailback Isiah Pacheco also turned in a strong game – rushing for 52 yards on 10 attempts – while wide receiver Daurice Fountain caught two passes for 36 yards. In total, 11 different players caught a pass on Thursday night.
The defense, meanwhile, finished strong with yet another impressive showing. The "first team" held Green Bay to just 10 total yards and without a first down through the Packers' first two offensive possessions, the latter of which included a sack by defensive lineman Tershawn Wharton.
"I like the speed that they're playing with," Reid said of the defense. "I like the communication that's taken place there. There's a certain confidence that they're developing in one another, and that will continue through the season."
Rookie safety Bryan Cook later added an interception in the closing seconds of the first half, marking his first takeaway of the preseason. Defensive end Joshua Kaindoh and cornerback Dicaprio Bootle were also both responsible for a pair of big plays defensively, as each player recorded a sack in the second half. The defense maintained its level of play up until the end, too, stopping the Packers on fourth down with less than a minute remaining in the game to secure the victory.
Thursday's game was also about more than just football, as it took place just 24 hours following the passing of Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback and franchise legend Len Dawson. The Chiefs donned helmet stickers that read "16" in honor of Dawson's number, and prior to the Chiefs' first offensive snap, quarterback Patrick Mahomes – who was otherwise not scheduled to play – led the offense in mimicking Dawson's iconic "choir huddle" as part of a truly special moment.
"We all wanted to do something. [Chairman and CEO] Clark [Hunt] and Coach Reid talked about it, and they came up with the idea," Mahomes said. "He did so much to impact the Kansas City community and this organization. We wanted to do something – a little token – to show our appreciation, and I'm glad that we got to do it out here at GEHA Field at Arrowhead."
"The players completely bought into it and wanted to do it," Reid added. "It's a tribute to a great person, a great player and then all he did [as a broadcaster]. [He was] a Hall of Famer in two things. He lived a wonderful life, and he really took advantage of every day that he had on Earth."
In terms of injuries, Matt Bushman (fractured clavicle), cornerback Trent McDuffie (being evaluated for a concussion), defensive end Malik Herring (oblique strain) and wide receiver/running back Jerrion Ealy (knee) each left the game early.
The Chiefs' front office will now face some tough decisions over the next several days, as the roster will need to be trimmed from 80 to 53 players by Tuesday. Following final roster cuts, the Chiefs will set their sights on a trip to Arizona for the regular-season opener on Sept. 11.