The Kansas City Chiefs looked like they were in mid-season form in the first quarter while several stars injured in 2011 had successful returns to the field, and the Chiefs beat the Arizona Cardinals 27-17 on Friday night.
That huge sigh of relief that you heard roll across Chiefs Nation began on the first play of the game when quarterback Matt Cassel hit RB Dexter McCluster for a nice gain of 7 yards on 1st down. (Cassel’s broken thumb from last year – healed!!)
On the fifth play, RB Jamaal Charles ran up the gut of the Cardinals defense for five yards. More importantly, he actually carried a defender on his back nearly the whole run. (Charles’ torn ACL from last year – healed!!)
Cassel used a strong running game and efficient passing to march the Chiefs down the field for a touchdown on the opening drive. The score came on a beautiful play fake that left new RB Peyton Hillis wide open for an 11-yard catch that saw him waltz into the end zone untouched. (Hillis’ injury-plagued 2011 season in Cleveland – healed!!!)
The defense took the field and despite giving up a 10-yard gain to Arizona on the first play, then forced a punt three plays later. The defense looked sharp, tackled well, and played hard. (2011 defense historically-bad early season performance – healed!!)
Cassel and the offense came back out on the field for their second series and this is what happened:
- Cassel hit Charles for an 11-yard gain
- Hillis ran off left guard for a 28-yard gain
- Cassel hit McCluster deep downfield for a 29-yard gain
- New RB Shaun Draughn ran off tackle for a 4-yard TD.
- Chiefs 14, Cards 0.
By the time there were 2 minutes gone in the second quarter, Kansas City’s offense had racked up 193 yards and had scored 17 points on three of four possessions. Not a bad start to the season – especially compared to last year’s debacle under Todd Haley.
The defense did not allow the Cardinals to score until Arizona kicked a field goal with 30 seconds left in the half.
The other two ACL Boys besides Charles, safety Eric Berry and tight end Tony Moeaki, also started the game and appeared to have no residual problems with their 2011 season-ending injuries.
After that sigh of relief, Chiefs fans could sit back and observe their latest team and see who might be one of the final 53 members of the team that will try to recapture the AFC West title.
Neither back-up quarterback, Ricky Stanzi (2-for-7 for 42 yds) nor Brady Quinn (7/13 for 81 yds and 1 interception) really distinguished himself above the other. Stanzi had receivers drop a couple of his passes while Quinn had one drop.
Other than the first-string offense, the stars of the game were:
- Nose tackle Anthony Toribio, who had 2 tackles (1 for a loss) but was constantly double-teamed by the Cards offensive linemen, freeing up his teammates to make plays.
- Back-up tight end Steve Maneri, a converted offensive tackle, who looked like a young Tony Gonzalez with three catches for 69 yards on three targets.
- Rookie RB Cyrus Gray, carrying the workload in the second half, had 15 rushes for 65 yds (4.3 avg) and scored a 7-yd touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The team will head back to St. Joseph for their last few days of training camp there before breaking camp on the 16th of next week. They play the St. Louis Rams next Saturday (8/18) in the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.
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