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Chiefs-Cardinals rapid reaction: the names to know from preseason game two

Mecole Hardman, Juan Thornhill make the plays of the night.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Arizona Cardinals 17-10 to improve to 2-0 on the preseason. Here is what you need to know:

For the second straight week, the Chiefs’ defense stole the show from the prolific offense. The Cardinals went three-and-out on their first four possessions, including all of starting quarterback Kyle Murray’s three possessions.

Every level of the first-team defense seemed to shine for the Chiefs. The Cardinals didn't make a first down until there was 4:23 left in the second quarter.

After corraling Trey Lance from the defensive tackle position last week, Chris Jones recorded a sack on Murray from the defensive end position when he cut inside to beat the tackle. On the play before, linebacker Anthony Hitchens chased Murray out of bounds for his own sack. Defensive tackle Turk Wharton showed out with a nice pursuit of Colt McCoy — and for the second straight week, appeared to be poised to take a step forward in 2021.

As a unit, the Chiefs defense combined for three more sacks on the night (Jarran Reed, Darius Harris, Dicaprio Bootle). They sacked the opposing team 5.0 times in each game for 10.0 total on the preseason.

Notably, both defensive tackle Khalen Saunders and safety Juan Thornhill began the game with the first team. Thornhill made the defensive play of the night when he made a diving interception on Colt McCoy in the end zone to end the second quarter.

The Chiefs starting outside cornerbacks in L’Jarius Sneed and Charvarius Ward tackled well, while the current third cornerback, Mike Hughes, looked the part. Deandre Baker, who is in line to push Hughes for that position, recorded an end-zone pass breakup in the third quarter.

The Chiefs began the game with a nice gap for running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, which led to seven yards after his 10-yard first play last week.

Head coach Andy Reid stayed aggressive despite it being the preseason, twice going for it on fourth down during the team’s initial possession.

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes went 10 for 18 for 82 yards and an interception, including four missed targets to wide receiver Mecole Hardman. But it was not all on Hardman, as Mahomes appeared uncharacteristically inaccurate when targeting the third-year receiver. Mahomes and Hardman could not come up with a touchdown on two back-to-back end-zone tries with passes that seemed to be out of Hardman’s reach.

Mahomes’ night ended with the interception. Cardinals linebacker Devon Kennard flushed Mahomes out to his right — and right before Mahomes stepped out of bounds, he fired a ball to the end zone, only to be intercepted by cornerback Byron Murphy. Mahomes might have known it was his last series — and I’m not sure he throws the ball if it were the regular season. Regardless, it was quite obviously not the right decision (He later told the press that he was attempting to throw the ball away).

Hardman made up for it later with the offensive play of the night, a shoestring catch from Chad Henne for the touchdown.

When it came to returning, a couple of players mixed in — Demarcus Robinson, Mike Hughes, Darrius Shepherd and Jerrick McKinnon — with Hughes probably being my pick for the best. I’m not quite sure when it started, but Robinson is carrying the ball away from this body (as we saw LeSean McCoy do when he was still a member of the club).

We tend to believe that the Chiefs will keep one running back behind Edwards-Helaire and third-down back Darrel Williams, and if that’s the case, it will be a tough decision between Darwin Thompson and McKinnon. Thompson ran well (8 carries for 49 yards), hurdling north of 10 times (just kidding — but seriously?), but McKinnon also ran well and did a little more in other phases. In addition to scoring a touchdown on a dump from Shane Buechele (Buechele also had an interception in the game), McKinnon was solid in pass protection with Darrel Williams out of the game, and he popped a Cardinal on punt return.

Perhaps the Chiefs will need to go somewhere other than the running back room to make space on the 53 for players such as wide receiver Daurice Fountain and tight end Jody Fortson, who also made the case for serious consideration for the second straight game.

An early camp darling in safety Devon Key was beaten by former Chiefs tight end Ross Travis for Cardinals’ sole touchdown of the game.

That’s two preseason games in the books. One exhibition game remains before the Chiefs begin the season against the Cleveland Browns.