It took an extra quarter to finally get a result in the third preseason game between the Chiefs and the Steelers but it ended up being a positive one for the boys in red. The Chiefs came away with their first win of the new regime, even if it was just preseason.
Preseason victories have been very hard to come by for the Chiefs in recent years, with this game being only the third win in the last five years. But the actual result isn't as important as how well the players played, executed, and continued to get better as the regular season vastly approaches. QB Alex Smith had a very nice performance in this "dress rehearsal" game, the wide receivers got involved, and once again, the special teams were special.
Smith and the offense struggled in the first quarter but bounced back with a brilliant two-minute drive before halftime, scoring a TD and tying up the game at the break. Smith showed glimpses of why the coaching staff has been so high on him from the very beginning, scrambling out of the pocket to escape pressure and utilizing his underrated speed to gain big chunks of yardage and moving the chains. He also rolled out a few times and completed passes to his wideouts, including WR Dwayne Bowe. Smith finished the night with 158 yards, one touchdown, and a QB rating over 100.
Chiefs fans were able to witness significant playing time from the backup Chase Daniel, a position that's very important. Daniel's night consisted of over 150 yards passing including a game winning TD pass to Rico Richardson in overtime.
He also showed off his ability to escape the pocket at times, rolling out when he needed to. It was good to see solid production from the backup QB position as you never know what can happen in the regular season injury-wise so fans can feel somewhat comfortable about the second guy on the depth chart.
This game was also about getting the wide receivers involved. WR Dwayne Bowe had gone the first two preseason games without a catch but in this game he caught six balls for over 70 yards. After trading away Jonathan Baldwin this past week, WR Donnie Avery was called upon to step into the WR2 spot and he showed up last night. Avery also caught six balls and showed why the Chiefs are confident in him being a starter.
Also, it seems like we can't talk about a Chiefs game these days without mentioning the special teams. For the third straight game, that unit was special once again after RB Knile Davis received a kickoff from the very back of his endzone and returned it the entire 109 yards for another special teams TD. Last week, Quintin Demps returned a kickoff against the 49ers. The Chiefs also blocked a kick later in the game which was a momentum changer.
Whatever special teams coach Dave Toub is doing with this group, it is working immensely well. Seeing this unit have this much success is refreshing for Chiefs fans and they will look to bring this success into the games that count.
All in all a very solid performance by this team in the all important third preseason game. But of course as in every game, there's always areas to work on and get better at and they will no doubt continue to work as September is only days away. Andy Reid offered his thoughts after the game.
"I was proud of the guys for the way they battled. I think the ones and the twos, they were able to come back from a 10-point deficit and tie it up at halftime and we came back and won the game at the end. There were some big plays all along that are important. You can't just chip away five yards at a time; you have to make a bunch of big plays, the guys did that and the attitude was right. I thought they played very well against a good football team."
One game remains between now and Jacksonville. The Chiefs will play the Green Bay Packers in the final preseason game at home on Thursday night. It will most likely be the game we find out who the third QB on the roster will be: Bray or Stanzi.
But for now, last night's game in Pittsburgh was just another building block towards the 2013 season.
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