The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 30-12, Saturday night at Paul Brown Stadium.
Here are your winners and losers from the game:
Winner: Alex Smith
As Kansas City remains appropriately excited about its quarterback of the future, the starter, Alex Smith, continues to go about his business.
Smith was 8/9 for 83 yards and a touchdown against the Bengals, which included a very encouraging 36-yard gain through the air to tight end Travis Kelce, and a fabulous touchdown throw to Demetrius Harris.
Despite Cincinnati safety Derron Smith blanketing Harris, Smith led Harris in such a way that he’d be the only player capable of catching the football, and he did for the score.
As a reminder: though it’s OK to be excited, Smith is and should be the starter of this football team for 2017.
Winner: Patrick Mahomes, and everyone in Kansas City watching Patrick Mahomes
We all got what we wanted—and that was a chance to see Patrick Mahomes take a crack with the first team against first-team competition.
I don’t want to say he had a perfect night (his first throw of the evening was in and out of the hands of a defender and could have ended the drive right there), but man, seeing him rush for that touchdown (that was called back) and later the accuracy on the run has you believing this guy is for real.
Mahomes finished 10/14 for 88 yards and two touchdowns, and I would officially be flabbergasted if he were moved back to No. 3 in the depth chart the remainder of the year.
Winner: Kareem Hunt
Spencer Ware came in for one play in this game, a 3-yard rush up the middle. But that seemed as if it was more symbolical than anything else, as it would end up being his first and last play.
After Ware, in came Kareem Hunt, who was a production machine.
Hunt had four carries for 13 yards and three receptions for 23 yards on the first drive alone and would finish with 63 yards from scrimmage before he tweaked his ankle at the end of the first quarter.
I’ve been saying it for a while now—Hunt is good, he does a lot of things and his performance with the first team Saturday night only adds to the case that he has been building for real playing time in 2017.
Winner: Demetrius Harris
You can’t have two touchdowns—one from QB1 and one from QB2—and not make my winners list.
Demetrius Harris has been flying under the radar for a long time, but Andy Reid, Smith and company continue to dial his number in the biggest spots (Denver, the playoffs last season).
In preseason game two, Harris had two touchdowns—one from Smith and one from Mahomes, and I noted above how tight of a window the first throw was. Here is the catch on the play action pass from Mahomes:
Patrick Mahomes has arrived, folks. Throws his second touchdown to Demetrius Harris. pic.twitter.com/UIrjjgMKoY— Chiefs Central Prod. (@ChiefsCentral) August 20, 2017
I questioned at the beginning of camp whether or not Ross Travis or Gavin Escobar could dethrone Harris for the TE2 position. I’m no longer questioning.
Winner: Charcandrick West
Just when you were perhaps ready to write him off, Charcandrick West takes your pencil and snaps it in half.
West exploded on Saturday night, rushing for 113 yards on seven carries. His back-to-back rushes of 27 and 25 yards in the fourth quarter showed outstanding vision, then he broke off another rush later in the quarter for 50 yards.
As I was getting giddy on Twitter, one of you PrideHeads tweeted at me that, “He’s playing third team competition.”
And I get that, you guys.
But that’s the hand he’s been dealt at this point and the only thing he can do is play it—and he performed well.
CJ Spiller had a great night as well, so I don’t necessarily think this means West hops up above Spiller, but I am starting to think the Chiefs will keep four running backs.
Winner: Chiefs rushing defense
Joe Mixon was all the rage in preseason Week 1 and in camp, and I was curious how the Chiefs defense would handle him on Saturday night.
The answer was a definitive one, as the Chiefs held him to 16 yards on six carries, or 2.7 yards per carry.
Looking at the totals at the end of the game, the Bengals rushed 21 times for only 72 yards (3.6 yards per carry).
I particularly liked how Dontari Poe’s replacement, Bennie Logan, looked. While he did have a pretty bad missed tackle at one point, he was consistently pushing back the line.
Loser: Phillip Gaines
Terrance Mitchell didn’t play on Saturday night because of a lingering hamstring issue, and the Chiefs gave the start at right cornerback to Phillip Gaines, while mixing Steve Nelson in the nickel and dime sets.
Gaines struggled against the Bengals’ first team wide receivers and it was pretty obvious on a couple of them. At one point the KCTV telecast zoomed in on Gaines, who was clearly frustrated with his effort.
Pro Football Focus does a very good job with providing stats against a particular cornerback in a given game, and I’m not sure it will be a pretty sight tomorrow for No. 23.
That said, I don’t think Gaines will be cut—he provides good depth—but I do see Mitchell getting plugged right back in once he’s healthy.
Loser: The offensive line reserves
Outside of Zach Fulton and the soon-to-be-returning Parker Ehinger (he was in Cincinnati with the team), it’s hard to feel comfortable with the Chiefs offensive line in reserve situations.
Especially after Tyler Bray’s first drive (the one-pass touchdown to Seantavius Jones), he seemed to be running for his life on dropbacks.
This is concerning if one of the five starters—Eric Fisher, Bryan Witzmann, Mitch Morse, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Mitch Schwartz—can’t play for a game or two if an injury were to occur.