Not only did week three of the pre-season bring the Kansas City Chiefs their first win of 2013, but also an all-around improved performance from the team, compared to weeks one and two.
The first team offense seemed to struggle early on versus the Pittsburgh Steelers offense, quickly falling behind 10 points to zero by the end of the 1st quarter. The Chiefs quickly turned this around by executing number of impressive drives towards the end of the half. Quarterback Alex Smith and co. were kept in the game for the entire 1st half and finally managed to redeem themselves against the Steelers 1st team defense (who were also still in the game), by scoring a field goal with just over five minutes left in the half and then quickly –with less than two minutes left- orchestrating a game-tying touchdown drive, consisting of eight plays over 72 yards, ending in a pass from Alex Smith to wide receiver Junior Hemingway. Alex Smith finished his tenure having completed 17 out of 24 pass attempts, for a total of 158 yards (and one touchdown) and a 102.4 passer rating.
The 2nd team offense was sent in for the remainder of the game, the 2nd half. Back-up quarterback Chase Daniel had an impressive outing versus the Steelers, quite the opposite of what fans saw in weeks one and two. Daniel finished the game with 152 yards through the air, coming from completing 14 out of 24 pass attempts, including one touchdown (a game winner in overtime), all combined for a 91 passer rating. The 2nd team offense as a whole played well and held it together under pressure, but Daniel played the most significant role in the team’s victory, leading an exciting 13-play final drive in overtime, ending with an accurate touchdown pass to wide receiver Rico Richardson in the right corner of the endzone.
Minus the majority of the 1st quarter, this game proved to be very promising in showing what starting quarterback Alex Smith and back-up Chase Daniel were brought in to Kansas City to do, to bring hope and a higher standard of aerial attack.
Once again the defensive unit as a whole has shown consistency in the face of a tough opponent. After falling to a 10-point deficit by the end of the 1st quarter due to a couple of impressive Big Ben-lead drives the 1st team defense shut-down the Steelers offense for the remainder of the half, not letting in another point. A few lapses in the secondary (of the 1st team defense) were noticeable, most notable, the touchdown bomb from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger that burned Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith, but the 1st team defensive line and linebacking core were on-point all night.
After a full half of the 1st team being on the field, the 2nd teamers and further back-ups were put on the field for the remainder of the night. After giving up the lead in last week’s week two matchup versus the San Francisco 49ers, the 2nd team defense needed a bounce-back week, and that is what they got. The 2nd team defense let in only 10 points in three quarters (including overtime), enough to support the offense in winning the game in overtime.
The defense continuing to contain powerful offenses paired with the offense’s all-around improvement could prove to be a deadly combination for opposing teams.
Special teams are not usually worth mentioning while watching a pre-season matchup, however, rookie running back Knile Davis has once again wowed fans with his incredible ability to take kick-returns to the house. Before the pre-season began, Davis was only a candidate for the role of kick-returner, but now seems to have established himself as a front runner to win the job.
The Chiefs return game overall has also made huge improvements since the 2012 season. The Chiefs kick-returners as a whole have amassed an amazing 562 return yards, averaging a staggering 40.1 yards per kick-return in only three weeks of pre-season, while holding opposing kick-returners to only 28 yards per return, for a total of 197 return yards.
These very intriguing statistics on special teams have not been seen in Kansas City since the days of Dante Hall, the human joy-stick. Not that Knile Davis or any other returners on the team right now are being compared to Dante Hall, but this unit on the large scale, are very promising, and could very well be responsible for one of more wins this season.