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Chiefs Fall to Saints, 26-24, in Preseason Opener

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The Chiefs kicked off the preseason on Sunday afternoon

By Matt McMullen, Chiefs Reporter (www.chiefs.com)

 

The Kansas City Chiefs fell to the New Orleans Saints, 26-24, in the preseason opener on Sunday afternoon as the reigning league champions took the field for the first time since Super Bowl LVII.

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes completed 2-of-2 passes for 15 yards in his lone series of work before handing his duties off to quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who tossed the Chiefs’ first touchdown of the day with a 1-yard strike to wide receiver Richie James. The score was part of a solid day for James, who hauled in a 43-yard reception just three plays earlier.

James’ efforts ignited a stretch of 24 unanswered points by the Chiefs, who fought back from an early 17-point deficit to take the lead late in the third quarter. Quarterback Shane Buechele, who entered the game following Gabbert’s scoring drive, was instrumental in Kansas City’s comeback with a pair of touchdown passes.

Buechele, who took over on offense following an interception by cornerback Kahlef Hailassie, successfully avoided multiple pass-rushers to find wide receiver Justyn Ross for a 15-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter. Buechele then had the Chiefs back in the end zone just one drive later, putting Kansas City ahead with an 8-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Kekoa Crawford.

The Chiefs added a field goal midway through the fourth quarter to extend their advantage to seven points, but the Saints didn’t go away. New Orleans pulled within a single point with a touchdown drive in the game’s final minutes, and on the Chiefs’ ensuing possession, defensive end Kyle Phillips picked off quarterback Chris Oladokun deep in Kansas City’s own territory.

The turnover provided New Orleans with an opportunity to kick a game-winning, 31-yard field goal as time expired, and as Blake Grupe’s kick sailed through the uprights, the Saints re-claimed the lead with zeroes remaining on the clock.

It was an unfortunate conclusion to what had the makings of a valiant comeback by the Chiefs’ second and third-teamers, but as is the reality in the preseason, there was still plenty that Kansas City can learn from Sunday’s game.

“All in all, it was good to get a game in,” said Head Coach Andy Reid. “The [starters] need to pick up the tempo on both sides of the ball. It wasn’t good enough, so we have some things to work on, but it was good to get the young guys in. I thought they played [well]. There were some good things from all the different positions…You just can’t finish with a mistake.”

Despite the final score, a standout from Sunday’s game was rookie wide receiver Nikko Remigio, who caught four passes for 71 yards. The Chiefs also made some plays defensively between linebacker Drue Tranquill, safety Chamarri Conner and defensive tackle Danny Shelton, who each recorded a sack.

In terms of injuries, rookie cornerback Nic Jones (fractured fingers) and defensive back Anthony Witherstone (toe) left Sunday’s game early.

The Chiefs will now return to training camp for another open practice at Missouri Western State University on Tuesday before continuing the preseason with a matchup against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday.

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