KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For those that watched the Chiefs preseason opener last weekend against Arizona, Friday night’s game against the Seattle Seahawks at Arrowhead Stadium was more of the same:
- The No. 1 offense struggled, especially along the offensive line where pass protection for quarterback Alex Smith was spotty. Plus, the Chiefs offense gave Seattle it’s only touchdown on an interception return.
- The starting defense made some progress and held quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense out of the end zone.
- The Chiefs No. 2 offense behind quarterback Chase Daniel showed more oomph than the starters, coming out after halftime and putting together the touchdown drive that provided the winning points.
In the end, Andy Reid’s team posted a 14-13 victory, giving them a 2-0 record for the preseason.
“All in all we did some good things,” Reid said after the game. “We were playing a good football team and we can’t forget that. Pete (Carroll, Seattle head coach) does a heck of a job with them.”
NFL preseason games are seldom classic performances and Friday night’s contest didn’t get close to being a well-played game. Seattle’s only touchdown came from its defense and the Chiefs offense produced just two touchdowns, on 3-yard throw by Smith to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and Daniel connected for a 1-yard score to rookie tight end James O’Shaughnessy.
There will be plenty for Reid and his coaching staff to dissect and correct when the Chiefs return to work on Sunday. It will start with the offensive line that was without two starters: tackle Eric Fisher (ankle) and guard-tackle Jeff Allen (knee). In the starting lineup were second-year guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and veteran lineman Paul Fanaika at right tackle. It’s doubtful those two will carry the starting spots into the third game of the preseason if others get well.
It appeared like it would be a long first half for Smith when he was crushed on the first offensive play of the game, hit by defensive end Michael Bennett as he threw the ball. Bennett was flagged for a questionable roughing the passer call giving the Chiefs 15 yards.
“For being kind of a makeshift group and with the exception of the first play, they did OK,” said Reid. “They tightened up a little bit and they got better.”
The hit was certainly a wake-up call for Smith, not that the Chiefs starting quarterback needed one.
“It just kind of caught me in a good spot,” Smith said. “You’re ready for it. It’s live and you are back out there. He just caught me good and woke me up a little bit.”
The No. 1 offense produced 124 yards on 34 snaps, a mere 3.7 yards a play. They had 58 yards rushing, and Smith hit 11 of 18 throws for 81 yards, but was sacked twice.
“There have been a lot of moving parts in practice,” Smith said of the offensive line. “That’s where we are at right now, between trying to find the five best and throw in some injuries. Then, they were going against a good front.”
The No. 1 defense held the Seahawks to 108 offensive yards in the first half. “Beast Mode” starter Marshawn Lynch did not play and Seattle had trouble running the ball with Robert Turbin and Christine Michael. Wilson was nine of 15 throwing the ball for 78 yards and he ran away from several attempts by the Chiefs to sack him.
The game was a battle of punters in the first quarter, as Dustin Colquitt and Seattle’s Jon Ryan banged away five times and kept pushing the other guys back. There was 282 yards of punts, but only 39 yards in returns in the first quarter alone.
For the Chiefs the early problem was Bennett blasting through Fanaika on a regular basis, picking up a sack and four tackles in the half. Smith was taken down twice and was flushed out of the pocket three times.
“That’s one of the best fronts in football,” Smith said of the Seattle defense that was flagged three times for roughing the passer. “It was a good test for us and we’ll look at the film and learn from it.”
Despite the protection problems, Smith finally got the offense moving on a possession that began with two minutes to play in the first quarter. The key play was a 23-yard completion to tight end Travis Kelce, the biggest offensive play of the half for the starters. The 14-play, 83-yard possession finally produced points on the TD pass from Smith to Maclin. With just under 10 minutes to play in the half, the Chiefs led 7-0 after the PAT kick from Cairo Santos.
Seattle came back and Wilson started connecting with tight end Jimmy Graham, the Seahawks big pickup in the offseason (in a trade with New Orleans.) Graham caught one pass for six yards, the next for 12 and then a 21-yarder that gave the Hawks a first-and-10 at the Chiefs 24-yard line. The K.C. defense gave up just three yards on the next three plays and Steven Hauschka kicked a 39-yard field goal to get Seattle on the scoreboard, trailing 7-3.
The Seahawks defense added to that total when linebacker Bobby Wagner stepped in front of a Smith pass for wide receiver Jason Avant and ran 25 yards to the end zone. That allowed the visitors to take a 10-7 lead to the locker room at halftime.
“We went with an empty backfield and I could hear them and they checked to it and they dropped the defensive tackle,” said Smith. “I was starting in on James (O’Shaughnessy), but they kind of doubled him in there with the d-tackle. When I came to throw it, I just didn’t see Wagner. I saw him too late.”
The No. 2 offense took over in the third quarter and came right out and moved quickly down the field on seven plays in just a few ticks over three minutes. The key play in the drive was a 28-yard completion from Daniel to fullback Spencer Ware that went to the two-yard line. Daniel fired a bullet to O’Shaughnessy in the end zone for his fourth scoring pass in two games. Santos made the PAT kick and the Chiefs led 14-10.
Hauschka added a 27-yard field goal as the Chiefs No. 2 defense held the Seahawks out of the end zone, even after they had a first-and-goal at the Kansas City 4-yard line. The big defense play came on third down, when defensive end Mike Catapano got great penetration and took down running back Robert Turbin for a 7-yard loss.
The fourth quarter was scoreless for both teams. The Chiefs second and third units produced just 29 yards in the final period on three possessions, punting it away twice and giving up the ball on downs. Seattle had four possessions and produced 53 yards in the last quarter and did not advance inside the Kansas City 40-yard line.
That was a wrap on what was a less than a classic performance and more like another preseason game that left more questions than answers.
“It was better today than it was last week for the ones,” Reid said. “At least we were better than what we were.”