The energy around Kansas City, Missouri this past Saturday was electric. Fans of the Kansas City Chiefs showed up hours before kickoff and proved why tailgating at Arrowhead Stadium is unmatched. From the moment the barbeque grills were fired up, you could sense that Chiefs Kingdom was eager for an encore to last season.
Social media has been buzzing with highlights since day one of Chiefs training camp. By all accounts, the defense looks to be much improved and is playing with a new swagger. The offense, if at all possible, seems to be even better than a season ago. Now it was time to see if that would translate into live game action.
The case of the bouncing ball
Since Saturday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals was the first game of the preseason for the Chiefs, the starters played little if at all. Those who did play did not even get a chance to break a sweat as their snap count was limited.
The Kansas City defense was first up after the Chiefs won the coin flip and chose to defer. Newly acquired defensive end Frank Clark enjoyed the game as a spectator due to a minor wrist injury.
The games’ opening drive had more twists than a plot to a Steven Spielberg movie. After a 4-yard run by Cincinnati running back Trayveon Williams, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton hit wide receiver Tyler Boyd on an 8-yard pass. The ball was then knocked out by Kansas City cornerback Kendall Fuller and picked up by Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen. Before Sorensen could even take two steps, a teammate bumped into him, and the ball was on the loose again. New Chiefs safety, Tyrann Mathieu, came in fiercely like the honey badger he is, grabbed the ball and ran out of bounds.
Like in any good movie, the celebration was short-lived and interrupted by the villain. In this case, in the form of the referees who decided to review the turnover. After leaving the players and Chiefs fans in suspense, they came back and said the pass was incomplete.
What followed was a replay of last years AFC Championship game. The Chiefs defense did its job for two downs only to let Dalton and the Bengals convert on third and long-multiple times. What started with cheers from the fans ended in boos. The Bengals marched down the field and capitalized on a preseason gift courtesy of the other guys in stripes.
Game of Mahomes
The Kansas City offense has never been in question. They bring back every key starter from last season minus RB Kareem Hunt and WR Chris Conley, who both find themselves with new teams. But with talks around the league of regression for MVP QB Patrick Mahomes, its safe to say the pressure was on for them to pick up where they left off in 2018.
The Chiefs starting offense not only showed up, but it showed out. From the very first play, Mahomes showed why he is the king on the playground. On a perfectly placed throw, the walking highlight reel hit TE Travis Kelce in stride for a 36-yard pass under pressure and made it look easy. Brian Baldinger brakes down the play in one of his famous #BaldysBreakdowns, calling it “must-see TV.”
.@Chiefs @PatrickMahomes #Chiefskingdom came out HOT HOT last night picking up right where they left off in the AFC CH GAME. And the MVP; looks like the MVP. This is must see TV. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/LVtkZX0PkP
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) August 11, 2019
Just as Mahomes is known to do, he spread the wealth hitting four different receivers and going 4/4 with 66 passing yards. He added 10 yards on a rush before RB Carlos Hyde ran it in for the score. In all, it only took the offense seven plays to get the job done and call it a night.
Kansas City rookies are as advertised
We can not do a proper recap of the game without mentioning the true stars of the night. For all the focus that was on Mahomes and the rest of the Kansas City starters, it was the rookies who shined.
Darwin Thompson, the Chiefs sixth-round pick in the 2018 draft, played like he had a chip on his shoulder. He wasted no time in showing that he is not afraid to square up as he made a much bigger defensive end do a full front flip with a beauty of a block.
It is never too late to tweet Darwin Thompson obliterating a 290-pound defensive end in his first NFL game. pic.twitter.com/N98uwzalos
— 50 Sent (@ClayWendler) August 11, 2019
In his post-game interview, Thompson said “I proved a little bit, I proved, 5’8” 195lb, I can play in the NFL, I can break tackles. I can do the same things I did in college. Let me build on top of that.” We need to look further than this play to see that he is most certainly making his case.
#Chiefs Darwin Thompson running like the explosive athlete that he is. 39-inch vertical.
He’s free in fantasy drafts. pic.twitter.com/Gt8UOGbHmm
— Hayden Winks (@HaydenWinks) August 11, 2019
It’s not only his running ability that makes him a perfect fit for Kansas City head coach Andy Reid’s offense. His skills as a pass-catcher and speed in the open field give him the skills needed to fit in with the legion of zoom. On his 29 yard TD catch, he ran in between four Cincinnati defenders almost untouched.
? Touchdown Kansas City!
— NFL (@NFL) August 11, 2019
Another addition to the Chief’s arsenal of weapons is their second-round pick, Mecole Hardman. The speedy receiver out of Georgia played in a run-heavy offense in college so many questioned how soon he would be able to make an impact for the Chiefs. If his play on Saturday is any indication, I’d said it would be sooner than later.
When asked about his play and executing what he has learned in training camp, he said the plan was to “try to play comfortable and play fast and make things happen.”
After scoring his first NFL touchdown, I’d say mission accomplished.
Mecole Hardman turned on the jets ?♂️?
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) August 11, 2019
The best is yet to come for Kansas City
We all know that training camp and preseason games are no sure-fire way to gauge how successful someone will be in the National Football Leauge. Many teams and fans have fallen for the fools gold just to be disappointed. There are still three games left before the final 53 man rosters are set. Many of the players we fall in love with today will be gone tomorrow. Whatever the case may be in Kansas City, you can be assured that the best is yet to come for the Chiefs and their fans.
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