The Kansas City Chiefs picked up their first win of the preseason, as they beat the Chicago Bears in impressive fashion by a score of 23-7 on Saturday afternoon at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Here are 10 observations from the game:
- Defense thoroughly dominated the first half
The story of Saturday's game was the dominance by the Chiefs defense, particularly in the first half.
The easiest way to illustrate this performance was that quarterback Alex Smith had more rushing yards in the first half (25) than the Bears had total yards of offense (18).
Coming into this game, the Chiefs run defense had given up almost 6 yards per carry through the first two preseason games, but they responded this week and shut the Bears down—allowing just 27 yards on 9 carries through the first 30 minutes of the game.
The Bears had minus-9 passing yards in the first half.
- Alex Smith gets plenty of work, once again shows his toughness
It wasn't the plan coming into the game, but Smith finished 20 of 30 for 181 yards. That's not a bad game line—throwing the ball 30 times, but that was only through the first half.
Reid said, "It just worked out that way," that Smith would have that many opportunities to throw the football. They weren't necessarily making a concerted effort to evaluate the passing game, despite throwing it more than twice as often as they ran it (30 to 14) in the first half.
Smith also had plenty of opportunities to throw it around, as the Chiefs dominated the time of possession battle in the first half—21:54 to 8:06—which was helped by the fact that he led the offense to convert 6 of 10 third downs while he was in there.
While it could be seen as a good thing that Smith stands in there and takes a couple of shots and gets used to the physicality that will come for 60 minutes when the regular season begins in a couple of weeks, the fact is he showed his toughness again on Saturday.
On one particular third-down play, Smith stepped into a pass that went to Travis Kelce down the field while a defender barreled down on him and actually knocked the wind out of him just milliseconds after he delivered the football.
The result of the play was 15 yards and set up Cairo Santos' second field goal of the day.
- Zach Fulton steps in at last minute
Right after the coin toss and just before the opening kickoff, Zach Fulton found out he was going to start at center in place of Mitch Morse, who caught the flu last night and wasn't able to play.
Morse tried to give it a go but left for the locker room moments before kickoff.
Stepping in for people isn't new for Fulton, who started at all three interior offensive line positions at different points last season. He showed his versatility and availability once again.
It was also special for Fulton, who grew up just 30 miles south of Chicago and attended Homewood-Flossmoor High School, to be able to start in Chicago with plenty of friends and family in the stands.
- Phillip Gaines sees his first action of the year
For the first time since Week 3 of last season, third-year cornerback Phillip Gaines was on the field for the Chiefs defense.
Gaines, who has worked his way back from a torn ACL suffered in that Week 3 game against the Green Bay Packers last year, started on the outside at the right cornerback position opposite of Marcus Peters on Saturday.
It's a spot that has seen a handful of players get a look so far this preseason, including rookie D.J. White, second-year player Steve Nelson and veteran Marcus Cooper.
The Chiefs also made a trade on Saturday, acquiring a cornerback from the San Francisco 49ers.
- Alex picks up big first down with his legs
Late in the first quarter and with the game scoreless at the time, the Chiefs offense faced a third-and-14 from the Bears 38-yard line.
It's at this point that we all saw something that was consistent and dangerous for the Chiefs offense last year—Smith's ability to take off from the pocket and pick up chunks of yards with his legs.
Smith scrambled 17 yards down the field for to pick up the first down on third-and-14, putting the Chiefs in a better position to score.
That drive ended with Cairo Santos' 20-yard field goal, which gave the Chiefs a 3-0 lead with 13:34 remaining in the second quarter.
- Second-team defense stops Chicago's first-team offense
The Chiefs went with their second-team defense to begin the second half, while the Bears kept their starters in the game, including quarterback Jay Cutler.
After driving 45 yards down the field and converting a fourth down to get near scoring position, the Chiefs defense forced Cutler to throw three consecutive incomplete passes from the 30-yard line and forced a 48-yard field goal attempt, which was missed.
It was a nice display by the Chiefs backups to hold strong against their toughest competition to date.
Photos from the Chiefs third preseason game against the Chicago Bears
- Tyreek Hill makes big play
When backup quarterback Nick Foles floated the ball deep down the field to rookie receiver Tyreek Hill, the term "50-50 ball" came to mind on the third-and-20 deep pass.
Hill had his guy beat deep but the ball was underthrown, and after absorbing the contact from the defensive back, Hill managed to make a fantastic catch down the field for a gain of 58 yards.
It was the longest play of the preseason so far for the Chiefs offense.
- Success on third down
The Chiefs converted 9 of 17 (53 percent) third down attempts on Saturday, while the Bears finished 3 of 13 (23 percent).
- Red zone is area to improve upon moving forward
While the Chiefs did convert both goal-to-go situations on Saturday, they only converted 2 of 5 red zone attempts, including going just 1 for 3 with the first-team offense.
Overall, the offense did a great job moving the ball down the field and getting in position to score, but finishing the drive and getting into the end zone is the ultimate goal and it's something Reid said will need to improve when the regular season begins.
"I thought we shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times," Reid said after the game. "We need to be better execution-wise, but we'll work on it and get better."
- Derrick Johnson continues to shine while rookie flashes again
After last week's loss to the Los Angeles Rams, veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson told the media that they had opportunities to make plays but were unable to—that too many runs which should have resulted in 2 to 3-yard gains were 5 to 6-yard gains.
That was one of the focuses for the defense coming into this game.
"We started fast and that was our whole motto for the day—starting fast," Johnson said during an in-game interview. "We hadn't started as fast in the last two games."
Johnson led the Chiefs with 4 tackles, 2 of which came for a loss, and added a sack as well.
One of the bright spots for the Chiefs defense through a couple of preseason games is rookie defensive lineman Chris Jones, who put together a nice performance on Saturday with some flash plays once again.
Jones finished with 3 tackles, including 1 for loss, adding a pass defensed as well, which was his batted ball deep in Bears territory.
It's been a good start for Jones and he'll be well served to continue learning from his veteran teammates, like Johnson and company.
When asked what's left to add to his legacy, which already includes multiple Pro Bowls and becoming the franchise's all-time leading tackler last year, Johnson said it's simple. "Super Bowl—trying to win it all," Johnson explained. "That's the only reason I play the game and until I win one, I won't be satisfied."