As the team’s preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints got underway, the Kansas City Chiefs didn’t look very sharp. Shortly after the second quarter began, the Chiefs were trailing 17-0. But once reserve players started entering the game, Kansas City began making its way back.
At the end of the third quarter, the Chiefs took a 21-17 lead. But holding a 24-23 lead with a minute remaining, Kansas City gave up an interception deep in its own territory. That led to Blake Grupe’s 31-yard field goal that gave the Saints a 26-24 win.
The Saints took the short opening kickoff to the 35-yard line, with a holding call backing them up 10 yards to the 25.
The Saints’ starting offense got going right out of the gate. A big run by running back Alvin Kamara gained 13, then safety Justin Reid was beaten by a New Orleans tight end for a chains-moving completion. The Chiefs’ defense did force a third down, but another completion kept the drive alive. The possession continued until quarterback Derek Carr found a receiver in the end zone, taking an initial 7-0 lead in New Orleans.
Looking to answer, the Chiefs’ first-team offense started with two short completions to running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, earning a first down between them. On the ensuing third down, Mahomes scrambled up the middle and slid for a first down — but was a yard shy. The Chiefs used tight end Blake Bell on a sneak to convert fourth down— but the play failed.
Taking over for Carr, Saints’ quarterback Jameis Winston didn’t waste time continuing New Orleans’ offensive momentum. He launched a pass deep with cornerback Trent McDuffie in coverage, who leaped and missed knocking the pass away. The completion turned into a touchdown, giving the Saints a 14-0 lead.
The Chiefs’ starting offense took the field again, but backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert was in Mahomes’ place. Rookie wide receiver Rashee Rice got his first completion, but the unit went three and out; the third-down attempt to tight end Noah Gray was defended well.
The Winston-led Saints continued to move the ball on the Chiefs, running down their throats with running back Jamaal Williams and Winston. They settled at the Chiefs’ 20-yard line when the first period ended.
With the Saints threatening to score, Chiefs’ linebacker Leo Chenal shut down two straight runs to force a field goal. New Orleans earned a 17-0 lead.
The Chiefs’ offense failed to get anything going on their next possession. Rashee Rice dropped a second-down pass, and then pressure forced a short throw on third down.
The defense did step up, forcing a punt with the help of defensive tackle Danny Shelton on a run stuff, and safety Chamarri Conner on a sack.
After receiving the punt, the Chiefs’ offense finally came alive when Gabbert looked for wide receiver Richie James down the field for a 43-yard completion. He almost had James on a touchdown a play later, but missed him in the end zone. However, Gabbert went back to him in the corner of the end zone, where James reached for a great grab and got Kansas City their first points of the preseason. They still trailed 17-7.
With time running out in the second quarter, the Chiefs’ defense worked to get the ball back to their offense. Safety Mike Edwards had a nice run stop on a toss play. The Saints got them on a few third downs, but Danny Shelton broke through into the backfield to trip up Winston for a sack later in the drive. New Orleans couldn’t recover, and punted back to the Chiefs near the two-minute warning.
Third-string quarterback Shane Buechele looked to take advantage of the two-minute drill, finding Rice in a tight window to start the drive. However, his next tight-window attempt to wide receiver Justyn Ross got tipped up in the air and intercepted.
The Saints looked to take advantage, but they were shut down primarily by linebacker Drue Tranquill, who ran through and got a sack early in the possession. The Saints eventually punted, after another blitz forced an incompletion on third down.
Kansas City took the ball from inside their own 10-yard line, and actually let the clock tick down to zeroes. The Saints held a 17-7 lead at the intermission.
The second half started with the ball in Buchele’s hands, who found wide receiver Justyn Ross on a quick pass and watched him break a tackle to earn a fist down. He went to him on the next play, but threw it at his feet. A few snaps later, Buechele was sacked — and the Chiefs were forced to punt.
The Saints quickly went three and out on their possession, with linebacker Jack Cochrane making the run stop on first down to get the drive rolling.
The Chiefs got going with a nice completion to tight end Matt Bushman on the following drive, but he was incorrectly flagged for offensive pass interference before the catch. Rice earned a lot of the yards back on an impressive catch and run, but another throw to Bushman was in too tight a window on third down. The Chiefs punted away after the incompletion.
New Orleans’ drive quickly ended, when a deep pass was intercepted on the sideline by undrafted rookie cornerback Kahlef Hailassie. The acrobatic gave the Chiefs the ball in Saints’ territory.
Kansas City marched down the field, using two big completions by wide receiver Cornell Powell to get near the red zone. From there, Justyn Ross found space in the middle of the field for a touchdown — narrowing the score to 17-14.
The Chiefs’ defense continued to stifle the reserves on the Saints’ offense. For the third possession of the second half, the Saints failed to score; it only took three plays for the Chiefs to get the ball back via punt.
Buechele got the offense going with a completion to wide receiver Kekoa Crawford, who gained 19 yards on the slant route. He saw two other targets on the drive, but neither were catchable for the rookie receiver. Another undrafted rookie found space for a completion though, when Nikko Remigio hauled in a third-down pass to keep the drive alive.
The team ran into third down in the red zone, but a scrambling Buechele avoided rushers and found Crawford in the back of the end zone for a highlight-reel touchdown. Kansas City had a 21-17 lead.
The Saints’ answering drive started with a deep completion, but stalled after that. Rookie cornerback Nic Jones made a strong tackle on third down to force another punt.
Fourth-string quarterback Chris Oladokun took over in the last period of the game, and began making plays — with the help of undrafted rookie receiver Nikko Remigio. The duo hooked up for two big completions, each into tight windows to move the chains. On another dropback, Oladokun stepped up through the pocket and escaped for a 30-yard run to get deep into New Orleans territory.
Oladokun was unable to advance, however, seeing his pass to Remigio on third down fall to the turf. The Chiefs settled for a field goal, leading 24-17.
The Chiefs’ defense continued its second-half dominance, forcing a three and out quickly. The Saints punted back to the Chiefs with over four minutes remaining.
Oladokun and the Chiefs’ offense didn’t get far, and punted after a short completion to wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette didn’t get to the marker.
The Saints had another chance to tie the game, and they made the most of it. Rookie quarterback Jake Haener marched them down the field, and got close to the end zone with a pass interference penalty. New Orleans scored the touchdown, then failed on the two-point attempt. The Chiefs still led by a score of 24-23.
Kansas City took the kickoff and seemingly had a chance the end the game with the ball. The Saints did call a few timeouts, and forced a throw on third down — a screen pass that got intercepted by a New Orleans defensive lineman.
The Saints got into position to kick the game-winning field goal, sending it through the uprights as time expired to win the game 26-24.
Kicker Harrison Butker converted his three point-after attempts, then nailed a field goal in the fourth quarter.
Punter Tommy Townsend had four punts, the longest of which traveled 58 yards.
Rookie running back Deneric Prince returned two kicks in the first half, gaining 36 yards between them.
Wide receiver Richie James returned one kick for 31 yards.
Wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette had one punt return, gaining eight yards. He also returned a kickoff for six yards.
Rookie wide receiver Nikko Remigio had two punt returns, totaling seven yards.