KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If the Chiefs offense heard any talk of a supposed regression in 2019, quarterback Patrick Mahomes and company dismissed that notion quickly Saturday with a thoroughly dominating opening drive in a 38-17 preseason victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium.
“It felt like a regular season game,” Mahomes said after the game. “To have that atmosphere and then go out there and have a great drive and score, then the young guys coming in and scoring, too, 38 points. To put up those numbers in a game like that with a lot of different groups was good to see.”
The No. 1 offense marched 83 yards on seven plays in 3:47, culminating with a 1-yard touchdown run by Carlos Hyde. Mahomes finished his short evening 4-of-4 passing for 66 yards and a 10-yard rush, and that was all head coach Andy Reid needed to see from his starting quarterback.
“It’s different than camp,” Reid said about getting back to game action. “Getting yourself prepared and feeling that little burn that you get in there. That competitive burn where you have to raise it up a notch and prep for a game. He did all that, and we got him out of there.”
The drive started with a bang thanks to a 36-yard pass down the left side line to tight end Travis Kelce. Despite operating with a limited game plan, left guard Andrew Wylie said the offense functioned just as the squad hoped it would.
“It’s great when you hit a 35-yard pop to Travis for the first play of the year,” Wylie said. “Once that happened, we were rolling.”
Mahomes spread the ball around during his short session, hitting four different receivers in as many throws. A 7-yard pass to Sammy Watkins and a 23-yard toss to backup tight end Blake Bell helped move the ball down the field. Fullback Anthony Sherman also caught a pass for no gain.
On second-and-goal from the Cincinnati 11, Mahomes didn’t find a target he wanted and scrambled for 10 yards to the 1.
“I was scrambling out, trying to find someone open,” Mahomes said. “I cut back and saw the end zone, and I knew there was probably a good chance I could have got in there, but that guy was coming down hill pretty fast, so I decided to save it for the regular season.”
Seeing the franchise quarterback scrambling in a preseason game, center Austin Reiter said he would have held his breath – if he could.
“I can’t hold my breath because I’m usually chasing him trying to breathe,” Reiter said with a laugh.
Wylie said he didn’t initially see what happened on the play, but once he saw Mahomes out of the pocket he sprinted to protect his quarterback. He said Mahomes thought he could make it, but wisely didn’t push the envelope.
“He was like, ‘I could have hit them with a little shake and bake, but I had to go down,’” Wylie said. “I was like, ‘Your (butt) better have gone down.”
The performance was sharp enough that Reid pulled the plug on keeping the first-team offense on the field for the first quarter, deploying the second-team unit into action for the next drive with 1:58 left in the quarter. Reiter said the first-team offense tasted the success it need for the first preseason outing.
“Just like getting that confidence going again,” Reiter said. “Just keeping it rolling, keeping it rolling. Coach Reid does an excellent job of dicing it up. He’s always setting us up with the right plays.”
The Chiefs return to St. Joseph on Monday for the final four practices of training camp before breaking camp and traveling to Pittsburgh for preseason game No. 2. Mahomes said the final four camp sessions won’t be any different that the rest of the practice schedule.
“You got three more preseason games and 16 more regular season games, then you’ve got the playoffs,” Mahomes said. “It’s not a one-day fix, it’s not one thing you do each and every practice that’s going to change the whole season. It’s that about that daily grind of getting better every single day.”
Injury Report: H-back John Lovett left the game with separated right shoulder. Reid said the training staff put the shoulder back in place, but his long-term availability is not known. Lovett finished the game with two catches for 23 yards. … Wide receiver Davon Grayson left the game in the second half with a knee injury. Reid said he remained in the game for a bit following the injury before coming out.
Game Notes: Defensive linemen Tanoh Kpassagnon and Breeland Speaks started on the ends with the first-team defense, and the duo picked up sacks against Bengals backup quarterback Jeff Driskel on back-to-back plays in the second quarter. … The final Cincinnati drive of each half ended with an interception. Cornerback Herb Miller intercepted Driskel’s Hail Mary pass to end the first half, while cornerback Michael Hunter finished the final Bengals’ drive with a pick against quarterback Ryan Finley. … Running back Josh Caldwell lead the Chiefs in rushing with four carries for 59 yards and a touchdown. Bell led receivers with two receptions for 37 yards.