The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Arizona Cardinals, 17-10, at State Farm Stadium on Friday night as the preseason continued in for the upcoming campaign.
Leading by a touchdown with just under two minutes remaining and facing a third-and-10, tailback Derrick Gore picked up 11 yards to move the chains and effectively secure the victory. It closed out a game in which the Chiefs led from start to finish, and despite a late Cardinals’ rally, Gore’s conversion ensured that Kansas City left the desert with a win.
Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes led three drives for Kansas City, completing 10-of-18 passes for 78 yards before exiting midway through the second quarter.
The Chiefs marched 15 plays on their opening drive, as Mahomes completed 5-of-8 passes for 42 yards – including two connections with wide receiver Mecole Hardman for a total of 19 yards – before kicker Harrison Butker put Kansas City in front with a 24-yard field goal.
The opening series included two fourth-down conversions – a five-yard reception by wide receiver Demarcus Robinson and a five-yard scramble by Mahomes – in what amounted to a textbook example of how preseason football can be beneficial in working on real-world situations.
“It’s super valuable,” Mahomes said. “I thought we did a great job on fourth down last year, so it’s definitely something that we’ll probably continue to do. It’s [Head] Coach [Andy] Reid and [Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy] having confidence in us, and for me – if we’re facing third-and-long – I know that if we’re able to get it to a fourth-and-short situation, we’ll more than likely have a chance to go for it.”
Quarterback Chad Henne later came on in relief of Mahomes in the closing minutes of the second quarter and went on to lead a touchdown drive in his second series of work, as he floated a 17-yard pass to the end zone in the direction of Hardman, who adjusted his body to make a terrific catch for the score.
The scoring strike was immediately proceeded by a 41-yard connection down the middle of the field between Henne and wide receiver Byron Pringle, who led all receivers on the night with four catches for 63 yards.
The Chiefs’ defense, meanwhile, was the story of the first half as Kansas City didn’t yield a first down through Arizona’s first four possessions. In fact, in the three drives that Cardinals’ starting quarterback Kyler Murray led for Arizona, the Chiefs allowed net total of -1 yards.
That defensive effort was later punctuated when safety Juan Thornhill picked off Cardinals’ quarterback Colt McCoy with a tremendous, diving catch in the end zone that thwarted a scoring threat and essentially ended the first half.
It was an exciting play for Thornhill, who is now a full season removed from the torn ACL that ended his rookie season.
“It felt great,” Thornhill said. “Doing that on national TV and showing everybody that I can still play the way that I used to, that was a great feeling.”
Rookie quarterback Shane Buechele – who led Kansas City’s game-winning drive against San Francisco last week – took over under center to begin the second half and promptly led another scoring drive, completing 7-of-8 passes for 66 yards and a 5-yard touchdown strike to tailback Jerick McKinnon. The series – which covered 87 yards across 12 plays – made it 17 unanswered points to begin the game for Kansas City.
Arizona managed to muster a rally as the third quarter drew to a close – tallying 10 unanswered points to pull within a touchdown – but quarterback Anthony Gordon led the Chiefs deep into Cardinals’ territory on their final drive to set up Gore’s game-icing dash.
Tailback Darwin Thompson also put together a strong performance, leading the Chiefs with 49 rushing yards on eight carries. The former sixth-round pick chipped in two receptions for seven yards and tallied a 37-yard kickoff return late in the third quarter.
Elsewhere, wide receiver Daurice Fountain was once again impressive in the passing game with three catches for 54 yards, including a 41-yard reception deep down the sideline late in the third quarter.
In terms of injuries, cornerback Rashad Fenton didn’t play due to a hamstring injury sustained prior to the game. Tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire left with an ankle injury and tailback Darrel Williams is in the concussion protocol. Additionally, Reid elected not to play wide receiver Tyreek Hill (hamstring) as a precautionary measure.
The Chiefs will now head back home to GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium to wrap up the preseason against the Minnesota Vikings on Aug. 27.