The Kansas City Chiefs fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road in their second preseason game of 2019. Here are the winners and losers from Saturday night’s game:
- After not appearing in the first preseason game, veteran defensive end Alex Okafor started Saturday night and made an impact right away. He beat the right tackle around the edge and got a third-down sack during the Chiefs’ second drive. It was his last snap of the night and the only sack for the starting defense.
- I told you to watch for rookie cornerback Herb Miller in my five things to watch, and you didn’t need to strain your eyes to see him. He popped out by forcing a fumble on the third defensive drive. Later, he contested star wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster on a third-down play and forced the incompletion. He was in early with the first-team defense and seemed to take some snaps from cornerback Chavarius Ward. He did get beat on a deep route late in the first half and then gave up a questionable fourth-quarter touchdown catch, so by no means was it a perfect performance.
- After getting picked on a little during the Bengals game, starting cornerback Chavarius Ward bounced back and made some opportunistic plays. On the first third down of the game, he got aggressive at the catch point with Smith-Schuster and forced a punt. With less than 30 seconds left in the half, Ward intercepted a bad pass into the end zone and ran it back to opposing territory. His performance should have a positive impact on his confidence.
- The second-round rookie wide receiver stayed hot and scored a touchdown for the second consecutive week. Mecole Hardman ran a vertical route from 17 yards out and hauled in a Chad Henne throw to the end zone. We saw his speed last week, and Saturday, he showed off some strong hands. His training camp hype has translated onto the game field so far.
- Second-year edge rusher Tanoh Kpassagnon didn’t get any reps at defensive end until the fourth drive — but he seemed to make the most out of his snaps. He showed good strength against the run and some pocket pressure. He looked impressively fast on a quarterback scramble that ended in Kpassagnon tossing the passer into the sideline. The athleticism is helping his case to become a contributor.
- The MVP quarterback can’t be perfect. Patrick Mahomes didn’t look very comfortable Saturday night. During the first drive, he missed tight end Travis Kelce on an open slant but scrambled for the first down, anyway. Later, a sideline throw to wide receiver Tyreek Hill was too high. On a third-down play, he missed running back Damien Williams on a wheel route out of the backfield. He finished 2 for 5 with 11 yards. When you’re as good as Mahomes is, you have to nitpick to find negatives.
- Second-string running back Carlos Hyde was given a solid amount of opportunities with the first and second-teams. He had a couple of nice carries, but coughed up the football and gave it away to the Steelers on the second offensive drive. Turnovers are inexcusable, so he has to be one of Saturday night’s losers. Ball security is important — and could be the difference between being a Chief and being cut.
- Tight end Deon Yelder’s night started off on a positive note with early playing time and a nice 27-yard catch from Mahomes. Unfortunately — on the same play as his catch — he came up limping with an ankle injury. He didn’t end up returning to the game, and his absence could hurt his chances at earning the backup tight end position.
- After losing his starting left guard job, offensive lineman Cam Erving is now a second-stringer for all five line spots. It’s good to have an experienced backup, but there’s a reason he is no longer a starter. He doesn’t seem to have improved from last year, showing the same weak anchor and lack of strength as a tackle in Saturday night’s game. Hopefully, he improves before September — because he will become a crucial part of the offense if there are any injuries in the front five.
- Rookie third-round draft pick Khalen Saunders has struggled to make an impact on the field so far this preseason. He didn’t get in Saturday’s game until the second half and was passed up by third-year newcomer Joey Ivie for snaps. He got driven off the ball a few times as well. It’s a tough transition from Western Illinois football to professional football, so hopefully he continues to take steps forward.