The Kansas City Chiefs opened the gates at Arrowhead Stadium Thursday night for the first preseason game of the 2018 season and were dealt a 17-10 loss by the Houston Texans.
For Chiefs fans, most of the focus was on new starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft, Mahomes had previously started just one regular-season game for the Chiefs.
Playing with offensive starters for the first time, Mahomes was competent but unspectacular, going 5-for-7 for 33 yards in two drives, with no touchdowns or interceptions.
The Texans took the opening kickoff out to their own 17, and on the second play from scrimmage, Lamar Miller gashed the Chiefs for 19 yards. But the Chiefs held at midfield, forcing a punt.
Starting at their own 17, the Chiefs immediately went to the passing game, and Mahomes hit Travis Kelce for a short pass in the middle good for a 14-yard gain. But after two short runs, Mahomes’ third-down pass to Kareem Hunt was short of the sticks, and the Texans brought him down.
Brandon Weeden came in at quarterback for the next Texans drive, which included four third-down conversions — and two costly defensive penalties by Chiefs cornerback David Amerson. The drive ended with an six-yard pass touchdown pass to Jordan Akins, and the Texans led 7-0.
After an ineffective Chiefs drive that ended the first quarter, the Texans got the ball on their own 34 and marched to the end zone in a six-play drive culminating in another touchdown pass to Akins — this one for 14 yards. The key play on the drive was a short pass to Troymaine Pope, who got into the open field and ran for 34 yards.
Chad Henne came into the game on the next Chiefs drive and was intercepted on a tipped ball after getting the team out to midfield. But the Chiefs forced a three-and-out on the next possession, and Henne got the ball back on his own 10 with 5:49 remaining in the half. The longtime NFL veteran led the team on a 90-yard drive, culminating in a 24-yard touchdown pass to Demarcus Robinson with 1:15 remaining.
The Chiefs held the Texans on their next possession and went to the locker room trailing 14-7.
The Chiefs were unable to get a first down on their opening drive of the second half, and the Texans started at their own 22 with Joe Webb under center. Webb worked his way down the field to the Kansas City 12, but on third-and-8, the Chiefs enveloped Webb, whose pass attempt went incomplete — forcing a 31-yard field goal.
Starting at their own 25, the Chiefs started moving down the field — and this time it was the Texans defense that lent a hand with roughing the passer and pass interference penalties that gave the Chiefs first downs. But then an offensive pass interference call on Jace Amaro stalled the drive, and the Chiefs had to settle for a 32-yard Harrison Butker field goal.
On the next drive, the Texans — helped by Kansas City penalties — made it to the Chiefs’ 10, when on third-and-8, the Chiefs nearly sacked Webb. But Webb scrambled and was tackled at the 3-yard line — apparently just short of the first down. After review, the ball spot was confirmed, and the Texans elected to go for it. But the Chiefs held, and took over on downs.
Chase Litton came in at quarterback for the Chiefs’ final drive. Mixing runs and passes — and giving Darrel Williams lots of each — Litton was impressive, even running for a crucial first down when the play broke down. A pass interference penalty gave the Chiefs a first down at the 1-yard line, but the Chiefs were unable to get in on three successive plays.
After a timeout — and with 19 seconds left — Litton tried a fade pass to to Alex Ellis in the end zone.
But the Texans knocked the ball away, sealing their 17-10 win.