Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid had suggested Patrick Mahomes could play in Saturday’s final preseason game.
But there were no snaps for Mahomes — or fellow first-teamers Travis Kelce, Nick Bolton or Marquez Valdes-Scantling — in the Chiefs’ preseason finale against the Cleveland Browns at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.
Quarterbacks Shane Buechele and Blaine Gabbert, battling for the backup job behind Mahomes, each threw a pick-six. But that wasn’t enough to derail the Chiefs, who held on to beat the Browns 33-32.
KC STAR OF THE GAME
Running back La’Mical Perine, take a bow. A 30-yard run was the biggest play of the Chiefs’ first touchdown drive, and his 20-yard touchdown reception from Blaine Gabbert just before halftime was all strength and balance as he broke multiple tackles.
Perine has been the Chiefs’ most productive running back in the preseason and deserves a roster spot.
Next: The Chiefs open the regular season on Sept. 7, a Thursday Night Football encounter at GEHA Field at Arrowhead against the Detroit Lions. The game will air on NBC (Ch. 41) will kick off at 7:20 p.m.
Passing offense: C
Interceptions on consecutive possessions got Buechele’s day off to a rough start.
Former Chiefs safety Juan Thornhill got the first one, returning it for a touchdown and “chopping” in the end zone. The second was knocked from Cornell Powell’s grasp and set up a short Cleveland touchdown.
But Buechele’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Justyn Ross was superb. Is he the Chiefs’ No. 2 quarterback? We’ll know soon.
And oh, boy, that Rashee Rice drop: He got behind the defense by several yards and would’ve had a sure touchdown from Gabbert’s lob. But Rice let the ball go through his arms.
He returned to the bench, head down, and a procession of teammates attempted to console him. Gabbert added a pick-six at the end of the first half on a pass that deflected off Matt Bushman.
Rushing offense: C
Clyde Edwards-Helaire got his third straight start. He’s had eight preseason carries for 14 yards.
Perine did something unseen this preseason by a Chiefs running back. He changed directions — and that decision led to a 30-yard gain, the longest by a KC running back this preseason.
Passing defense: C
The Chiefs’ defensive starters played one series. Browns QB Deshaun Watson completed a 53-yard pass against busted coverage. That was the Chiefs’ lowlight. The highlight? Dicaprio Bootle’s interception in the third quarter that set up a touchdown.
Rushing defense: B
Leo Chanel gets credit for being in the right place at the right time, recovering a Watson fumble to end the Browns’ first drive. Chanel injured his hip on the play, and Watson nearly fumbled away another handoff.
It was a nice day for former Kansas Jayhawks defensive lineman Daniel Wise, who collected a pair of tackles for loss in the second half.
Special teams: A
It’s doubtful the Chiefs would’ve attempted a 32-yard field goal on fourth-and-2 from the 14 during the regular season. But Harrison Butker needs reps, too, and he banged through a 32-yarder.
Good to see safety Justin Reid get an extra-point attempt, in case he’s pressed into service like he was in last year’s opener.
Tommy Townsend crushed a couple of punts and averaged 49.8. Solid kickoff and punt coverage.
Wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette had a solid camp, and he caught a 43-yard touchdown pass during Saturday’s third quarter. But he made a mistake returning a punt. He let a high, deep one bounce before picking it up for a 1-yard return.
Phil Hoskins got his hand on a field-goal attempt with a minute remaining to seal the victory, the best special teams moment of the preseason.