From Arrowhead Stadium
Remember the last time the Chiefs won a pre-season game? I didn’t, so I had to look it up.
It was August 28, 2008, more than two years ago. The Chiefs beat the St. Louis Rams at Arrowhead, 21-17. They claimed the Governor’s Cup after the game.
There was no Governor’s Cup to cradle Thursday night. But there was a victory, and those are so few and far between for the Chiefs in the last four years, it matters not that it will be a winning effort quickly forgotten.
The Chiefs beat the Green Bay Packers 17-13. OK, it was more like the Chiefs beat the Packers JV squad by less than a touchdown in front of another sparse crowd at Arrowhead. (Paid attendance was announced as 63,843. Many came to the game disguised as red, yellow and orange seats.)
The victory pushed their record to 1-3 for the now-finished pre-season in what quite possible could be the last four-game slate of exhibition games the franchise will play, with an 18-game regular season and shortened pre-season coming in labor negotiations.
It was also the first pre-season victory in the short head coaching career of Todd Haley.
“Overall that’s good for our team to go out there and get a win,” Haley said after the game. “Now we have 11 days to get ready for the opening of the regular season. From the big picture that I could see from the sidelines, through the first half I felt like we had taken a positive step.”
Matters got rather sloppy in the second half, with the starters on both teams on the sidelines wearing baseball caps. That’s when the Chiefs No. 2 and 3 units made too many mistakes, and almost cost them the victory.
“We’ve got to clean that stuff up,” said Haley. “Onside kicks, big plays, some of those things that you saw happen out there we can’t allow to occur when these games get started for real.”
What little that really mattered in this game for the Chiefs came in the first quarter. Yes, the Packers did not dress three key starters – QB Aaron Rodgers, RB Ryan Grant or LT Chad Clifton, so this is not a pelt that the K.C. defense can hang on its wall. But in the first quarter â€“ without OLB Tamba Hali who did not dress because of an ankle injury â€“ the Packers were unable to produce a first down. They had four possessions and gained 18 yards. Five of their 12 plays gained nothing or lost yardage.
The Chiefs defensive dominance ran through the last minutes of the first half, as the offense put a pair of touchdowns on the board, as QB Matt Cassel connected on a 2-yard TD pass to TE Leonard Pope and RB Jackie Battle ran for a one-yard touchdown.
One of the few mistakes the Chiefs offense made in the first half was a Cassel interception, but fault for that one may rest with WR Dwayne Bowe. For some reason, he went low for a throw that was not low and he could not adjust in time to make the catch or keep Packers CB Jarrett Bush from grabbing the interception.
In the first quarter, the Packers had four possessions and went three plays and out on all of them. The Chiefs’ first possessions went awry, as K Ryan Succop missed a 51-yard FG try, hitting the left upright. The next time, the drive ended on the Bush interception of Cassel’s pass.
But halfway through the initial period, the Chiefs offense started clicking, as they picked up three first downs and Cassel who started the game zero for five in passing, hit four of five in the drive for 58 yards. The big plays were a 19-yard pass to RB Jamaal Charles on a third-down play and a Cassel to Bowe pass for 30 yards that took the ball down to the Packers three-yard line.
Two plays later, Cassel waited for Pope to fight through the wash of defensive bodies and come open on the left side of the end zone. The two-yard play and Succop’s PAT kick gave the Chiefs a 7-0 lead.
They pushed the difference to 14-0 midway through the second quarter, when QB Brodie Croyle led the offense on an eight-play, 95-yard drive. Thanks to a great scoring-zone stand by the defense, Croyle got the ball at his own five-yard line. That’s when he started handing the ball to RB Jackie Battle.
The big third-year back out of the University of Houston ran for 12 and then 50 yards, pushing the ball into Packers territory. Croyle and rookie TE Tony Moeaki combined on a 16-yard completion and then RB Javarris Williams took three straight carries for a total of six yards. On 4th-and-goal at the one-yard line, Battle went up the middle for the touchdown. Succop hit the PAT kick at it was 14-0 for the Chiefs.
As the first half ended, Packers QB Matt Flynn finally got his offense moving, as they went 60 yards in 10 plays and ended up with a 40-yard FG by K Mason Crosby, making it 14-3 at half-time.
On their first possession of the third quarter, the Packers got their touchdown, set up by a big 77-yard pitch and catch play between Flynn and WR Brett Swain. Chiefs CB Jackie Bates sat in coverage on the left side of the defense, and Swain ran right past him, caught the ball and was not caught until S Donald Washington pushed him out at the Chiefs five-yard line.
It was two plays later that RB Kregg Lumpkin scored on a one-yard run, awarded only after a replay challenge flag was thrown by Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy. Crosby hit the PAT kick and it was 14-10.
Later in the period, the Chiefs defense again held the Packers out of the end zone, gaining possession at their 19-yard line for the offense. Croyle took them 73 yards on 10 plays, highlighted by a 43-yard completion to Castille. They ended up settling for a 26-yard Succop FG and a 17-10 lead.
In the fourth quarter, the Packers seemed to have numerous chances but the Chiefs defense always stiffened when they got close to the end zone. Green Bay drove to the Chiefs 23, 21 and 29-yard lines, but turned the ball over on downs twice and scored only a 41-yard FG from Crosby.