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Final score: Chiefs bully Cardinals, open season with 44-21 blowout in Arizona

Kansas City did more than handle their business in the season’s opening week.

Kansas City Chiefs v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

With a division rival looming on Thursday Night Football in Week 2, the Kansas City Chiefs didn’t overlook the Arizona Cardinals on the road in Week 1. They made a statement, scoring three consecutive touchdowns to start the game, then finishing the contest with three in the second half to win 44-21. Both sides of the ball had their way with the opposition for most of the night.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes finished with 30 completions on 39 total attempts, racking up 360 yards and five touchdowns. He wasn’t sacked or intercepted, allowing him to earn a passer rating of 144.2. The Chiefs’ running back room combined for 126 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries Tight end Travis Kelce led the way through the air, earning 121 yards and a score on eight receptions. Cornerback L’Jarius Sneed was the statistical leader on defense, totaling eight tackles, one sack, one other quarterback hit and a pass defended.

The Chiefs began the 2022 season receiving the kickoff, electing for a touchback when the ball traveled into the end zone.

The Chiefs started with a strong rushing attack, using starting running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire for 34 yards on four carries during the first drive. A few big conversions by wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster and tight end Travis Kelce moved them into scoring position. Kelce finished it off with a jump-ball catch in the end zone, scoring with a nine-yard reception to take the early 7-0 lead. The score capped off an 11-play, 75-yard drive.

Arizona’s drive started with a tackle for loss by linebacker Nick Bolton. After a long scramble on second down, the third-and-short attempt was stonewalled by a blitzing cornerback L’Jarius Sneed. His sack forced the punt.

On Kansas City’s second drive, the party got going with a 25-yard catch and run by Edwards-Helaire. Another chunk completion to Smith-Schuster advanced the Chiefs further down the field, then Kelce had a big catch. Eventually, a first-and-goal play turned into a shovel pass to Edwards-Helaire to score and take a 14-0 lead.

To answer, Arizona began with a few chunk plays by wide receiver Marquise Brown and running back James Conner. Quarterback Kyler Murray completed a 24-yard pass to wide receiver Greg Dortch to get into Chiefs’ territory, ending the first quarter.

The Cardinals continued marching in the second quarter, setting up a touchdown run by Conner with a 21-yard Murray scramble. The Arizona touchdown made the score 14-7.

Kansas City’s third drive looked very much like the others, starting with a big chunk gain by wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling. A few plays later, wide receiver Mecole Hardman converted a third down with a quick reception. Kansas City eventually capped off the drive with a quick scoring pass to Edwards-Helaire on fourth down. The 11-play, 60-yard drive made the score 20-7.

Arizona looked to answer, but didn’t get a chance to get anything going. Linebackers Willie Gay Jr. and Nick Bolton flew around to make quick tackles on first and second down, then Chris Jones batted down a third-down pass at the line of scrimmage. The Chiefs forced their second punt.

With six minutes to go in the first half, the Chiefs looked to score again — quickly moving the sticks with a short pass to Kelce. But on the ensuing third down, Mahomes’ throw fell incomplete when attempted to squeeze in a lofted pass to tightly-covered running back Jerick McKinnon.

After a Chiefs punt, the Cardinals started driving — using Marquise Brown to gain 26 yards on a deep pass. That took them to the two-minute warning.

The Chiefs shut the Cardinals down out of the break, starting with a forced fumble by Chris Jones that Arizona ended up recovering. After a forced incompletion on second down, a blitz forced a hurried throw that was defended by cornerback Rashad Fenton. The defense forced a punt while in their own territory.

Up 20-7 with 1:05 to go, the Chiefs tried to attack with a big pass play to Smith-Schuster — but he fumbled the ball as he was being tackled. Arizona took over with plenty of time still left to score.

The Cardinals tried to take advantage, but the Chiefs’ defense suffocated their offense on four straight plays. A third-down tackle by safety Justin Reid was followed by an incompletion caused by pass rushers Chris Jones and the rookie defensive end George Karlaftis, forcing a turnover on downs.

With 35 seconds left in the second quarter, the Chiefs needed 30 yards to give hampered kicker Harrison Butker a chance — and they did it. With two seconds remaining, Butker nailed a 54-yard field goal to extend the lead to 23-7 at halftime.

The Cardinals started the second half by moving the sticks once, then getting themselves into a second-and-15 situation. On the following third down, the Chiefs’ pass rush collapsed the pocket on quarterback Kyler Murray as Carlos Dunlap earned his first Kansas City sack.

On the first play of the Chiefs’ next drive, Mahomes found Kelce deep on a crossing pattern to gain 35 yards, taking advantage of the defense with a play-action pass. Two plays later, a scrambling Mahomes found rookie wide receiver Skyy Moore across the middle, gaining 30 yards. That big play set up a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jody Fortson, extending the lead to 30-7.

The Chiefs’ defense shut down Arizona on their next drive, which started with a deep incompletion that was forced by safety Juan Thornhill. After a tackle by Bolton on second down, Murray attempted to find wide receiver A.J. Green deep down the sideline, but rookie cornerback Jaylen Watson deflected the throw. The Cardinals were forced into another punt.

On Kansas City’s next possession, they took eight plays to go 71 yards and score another touchdown. After missing an open Hardman early in the drive, Mahomes rebounded with a 26-yard completion to Kelce, who had once again shaken off linebacker Isiah Simmons in coverage. A big McKinnon run put the Chiefs in the red zone, where Mahomes eventually found Hardman on a quick pass to score.

Down 37-7, the Cardinals drove into Kansas City territory methodically, before a 16-yard run by running back Eno Benjamin set them up at the Chiefs’ 32-yard line. Another chunk pass play got Arizona to the 10-yard line. A third-down attempt was swatted away by Karlaftis, but on fourth down, an all-out blitz couldn’t stop a touchdown pass to Marquise Brown, making the score 37-15.

The Chiefs’ offense took over, handing the ball off to rookie Isiah Pacheco on two straight plays — gaining 16 yards in total. After a third-down conversion by way of a quick pass to Valdes-Scantling, Pacheco blew through an open hole for 19 yards. From the Cardinals’ 20-yard line, a pass to McKinnon gained 18 yards. That was followed by a touchdown run by Pacheco, extending the score to 44-15.

With less than eight minutes to go, Murray was set up with a long kickoff return. He quickly gained 30 yards on two pass plays, advancing close enough to find tight end Zach Ertz with a touchdown pass. The quick drive closed the gap to 44-21.

Backup quarterback Chad Henne took the reigns for the Chiefs, leaving Mahomes to rest for the remainder of the game. He handed off to Pacheco a couple times, the second one popping for 23 yards. A few plays later, a Pacheco run was blown up in the backfield — setting up third down with 12 yards to go. A conservative run put them in fourth down, as the two-minute warning hit.

Another punt set up the Cardinals to take over, with backup quarterback Trace McSorley taking the snaps. They wound down the clock, converting one third-and-9 to extend the last drive. With 30 seconds to go, they faced a fourth down — which was converted. The next snap was the last play, ending with a sack — and a final score of 44-21.


Kicker Harrison Butker left the game in the first quarter after twisting his ankle on a kickoff. He was carted off the field, and later designated as questionable to return with a left ankle injury.

Right guard Trey Smith left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury. He was marked as questionable to return.

Cornerback Trent McDuffie left the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury. It was reported that he would not be returning.

Late in the fourth quarter, the team announced that wide receiver Justin Watson was out for the remainder of the contest with a chest injury.

Special teams

Kicker Harrison Butker made the first point-after attempt of the game, but was injured on the following kickoff. He returned to hit a 54-yard field goal late in the second quarter, then three more extra-point attempts.

Safety Justin Reid made the team’s second point-after attempt, making it easily. When going for the third, he sailed it wide right.

Punter Tommy Townsend had one punt, which traveled 58 yards for a touchback.

Rookie Skyy Moore took four of the five punt-return opportunities — gaining 41 yards in total; he also returned one kickoff for 23 yards.

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