The Kansas City Chiefs kicked off the preseason on Saturday afternoon against the Chicago Bears, and while the Chiefs ultimately fell to Chicago – 19-14 – there were plenty of positives to take away from the game.
"It was good to get a game under our belt," said Head Coach Andy Reid. "I think the [first team] did well on both sides of the ball, the [second team] did a good job and it was great experience for [the third and fourth team] to get in there."
Indeed, the first team found immediate success on both sides of the ball. The Chiefs' defense began the game by forcing a three-and-out, as defensive tackle Chris Jones sacked Bears' quarterback Justin Fields for an eight-yard loss on third down. The first-team offense then followed that up with an 11-play, 72-yard drive that ended with a 5-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Patrick Mahomes to tight end Blake Bell.
Mahomes – who only led the opening series before relinquishing his duties to quarterback Chad Henne – completed 6-of-7 passes for 60 yards and the score.
"We did what we were supposed to do," Mahomes said. "We spread the football around, got a bunch of different guys involved and found a way to get in the end zone…It was a good day and something that we can build on."
Mahomes found a different receiver on each of his six completions, connecting with fullback Michael Burton, wide receiver Mecole Hardman, tight end Travis Kelce, wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Blake Bell on the series.
"It's going to be a lot like that this year. It's going to come from everywhere," Mahomes said. "It's going to be hard for teams to game plan against [us]. Obviously, Travis is going to have a lot of catches – that's just who he is – but other than that, it's going to come from the whole group. I think the guys have kind of embraced that, and whenever their number gets called, they're going to make a play."
Another receiver, veteran Justin Watson, made sure to get involved a bit later. In fact, Watson, who signed with the Chiefs during this past offseason, went on to lead all pass-catchers with five receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown. His score – a 22-yard pass from quarterback Shane Buechele – provided Kansas City with a two-touchdown lead during the final moments of the first half.
"Big time props to Shane. We had two five-yard routes on the outside, but Shane saw that [the defense] was in a two-high, split safety [look] and saw that void in the middle there, so he yelled out to me to run that post route," Watson said. "It took some moxie, but he delivered a strike. It was a great play and great adjustment."
The excitement around Watson's score continued during the extra point, too, as safety Justin Reid – who has been vocal about his desire to attempt a kick in a game – took the field for the extra point and successfully booted the football through the uprights. It was a terrific moment that ignited euphoric celebration on the sideline.
"I can finally check that one [off the bucket list]. It was a great feeling," Reid said. "The coaches let me know that if it looked good in pre-game and if the opportunity presented itself, they would give me a shot. Pre-game went well, I got the opportunity and it went down the middle. It was awesome."
Another player who made their mark was rookie linebacker Leo Chenal, who finished the game with a team-leading seven tackles. Defensive end George Karlaftis, meanwhile, recorded a sack on third down early in the second quarter.
"It was good to get a big third-down stop and to get our offense the ball back," Karlaftis said. "It was great to go up against someone else and to test where I'm at. It was a great first taste."
Karlaftis contributed to what turned out to be a first-half shutout by the defense, and while the Bears eventually strung 19 unanswered points together to ultimately take the lead, the Chiefs' collective performance through the first two quarters was an exciting first look at what this group is building toward.
In terms of injuries, Bell (hip) and tailback Derrick Gore (neck) left the game early. The Chiefs will now enjoy a day off on Sunday before returning to training camp on Monday.