By Matt McMullen – Chiefs.com
The Kansas City Chiefs fought back from an early deficit to close out the preseason with a victory on Saturday, defeating the Cleveland Browns, 33-32, at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.
Leading by just one point with less than a minute remaining in the game, Chiefs’ defensive tackle Phil Hoskins blocked a 43-yard field goal attempt by Browns’ kicker Cade York that would have pushed Cleveland ahead if it had been successful. Hoskins’ efforts meant that the Chiefs took over on offense, however, essentially securing the victory.
The block marked a fitting conclusion to an eventful game that the Chiefs once trailed by 19 points. Kansas City managed just three points through its first four possessions, but following that slow start, quarterback Shane Buechele led a nine-play, 90-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Justyn Ross.
Quarterback Blaine Gabbert then had the Chiefs back in the end zone two possessions later with a short pass to tailback La’Mical Perine, who broke numerous tackles on his way to a 20-yard score. The play served as an exclamation point on what turned out to be a strong preseason for Perine, who racked 147 total yards on 20 touches over the last three weeks.
“I like that I was consistent in just showing them that I can protect, I can catch the ball and I can run [the ball],” said Perine when asked about his preseason as a whole. “Just being consistent – that was the biggest thing that I wanted to work on this offseason – and I feel like it’s working. I just hope I can keep going with it.”
Perine’s efforts helped narrow the Browns’ advantage prior to halftime, and on their second drive of the third quarter, the Chiefs managed to find the end zone once again when Gabbert found wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette for a 43-yard score. It was part of a big day for Smith-Marsette, who finished with four catches for 101 yards and a touchdown.
“Like I always say, [if I] just keep working, it’s going to [pay off] at the end of the day,” Smith-Marsette said. “[I was] just going out there and doing what I could to make that [roster] decision hard. That’s something they told us, and I feel like I made it just a little bit harder.”
Quarterback Chris Oladokun came in for Gabbert after Smith-Marsette’s touchdown, and following an interception by cornerback Dicaprio Bootle, Oladokun put Kansas City in front for the first time all day with an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Matt Bushman.
Cleveland went on to fight back and reclaim the lead with a field goal late in the fourth quarter, but facing a two-point deficit with just over four minutes remaining, Oladokun engineered a seven-play, 49-yard series that culminated in a 44-yard, go-ahead field goal by Harrison Butker.
The Browns then had an opportunity to connect on a field goal of their own just a few moments later, but Hoskins blocked York’s kick and thwarted any chance of a Cleveland comeback.
It all provided for an exciting and productive afternoon of football that concluded the preseason on a positive note.
“It was great to get the [second team] and [third team] the work that they did,” said Head Coach Andy Reid. “This helps [General Manager] Brett [Veach], and [it] helps the guys – the ones that don’t make the team – [by giving them] an opportunity to hook on somewhere else with the tape that they put out there. So, all in all, it’s good to have [the preseason] finished up. It’s good that we’re relatively healthy, and we’ll move on to a really good Lions team.”
In terms of injuries, Coach Reid mentioned linebacker Leo Chenal (hip pointer), linebacker Cole Christiansen (ribs), wide receiver Cornell Powell (hamstring), offensive tackle Wanya Morris (shoulder), linebacker Cam Jones (concussion) and defensive end Olakunle Fatukasi (concussion) following the game. Reid added, however, that none of those injuries appeared to be serious.
The Chiefs’ front office will now begin their final evaluations prior to the roster cut deadline on Tuesday, which will require Kansas City to trim its roster from 91 players to 53 by 3 p.m. CT.
Kansas City will then prepare to kick off the regular season against the Detroit Lions on Sept. 7.