KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Chiefs backup quarterback Tyler Bray led two first-half touchdown drives and the team’s defense stifled the Green Bay Packers in the team’s 17-7 preseason victory Thursday night at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs conclude the preseason 2-2 while the Packers fell to 3-1.
Both teams withheld most of their starters, instead relying on backups and reserves to wrap-up the final preseason game before the regular season begins next weekend. Coach Andy Reid said he wanted rookies and veterans alike to make their case to earn spots on the season-opening active roster, or showcase their talents for other teams around the league.
“All-in-all it was a good win, it was a good opportunity to see the young guys,” Reid said. “They got extended time. That gives (general manager) John (Dorsey) an opportunity to evaluate these guys and put the team together.”
The Chiefs offense struggled out of the gate, but finally found its rhythm near the end of the first quarter. Running back Knile Davis capped a nine-play, 75-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run.
After the defense forced a punt on the next Packers possession, Bray led a 10-play, 58-yard drive concluding with a 3-yard touchdown by running back Darrin Reaves.
Bray finished the game 10-17 passing for 104 yards, including a perfect 6-for-6 passing for 62 yards in the second quarter.
He said he felt more calm as the game progressed.
“I was standing tall and trying to throw ball through the guy’s chest instead of just putting it there and giving him a ball to catch,” Braid said. “I calmed down, I think everyone kind of calmed down, and we started moving the ball.”
Bray said he felt fine after suffering a neck injury in the team’s first preseason game against Seattle.
“I got a bunch of hickeys on my back from the suction cups so that helps,” Bray said with a smile and a laugh.
Reid seemed satisfied with Bray’s overall performance.
“I thought he did some good things,” Reid said. “He started out a little slow, but I thought he worked through it.
Davis and Reaves both boosted their stocks with steady performances on the ground. Davis finished with 58 yards on 14 carries while Reaves added 63 yards on 17 rushes. Reid said both backs ran hard.
“I thought both of them were very productive, especially down the stretch,” Reid said.
Reaves spent time with the Chiefs a year ago in training camp and the team signed him to the practice squad in October. He said he feels the game has slowed down for him from last season..
“I think really what I’ve improved on is fitting into what we do,” Reaves said. “Understanding scheme, understanding how I fit and understanding how our O-line is playing it and the whole philosophy of the offense.”
But it was the Chiefs defense that led the way. They held the Packers to 172 total yards of offense, including just 63 yards rushing.
That marked two games in a row the Chiefs defense clamped down against the run after being gashed in the first two games by the Seattle and Los Angeles rushing attacks.
Reid says he saw better focus in the defense the last two games.
“They’ve gone and work their fundamentals – the front seven,” Reid said. “Those are prideful guys. They discover a weakness there and then they are going to turn that into a strength, and that’s what they’ve done.”
Rookie linebacker Dadi Nicolas and defensive lineman Nick Williams each recorded two sacks. Safeties Brock Vereen and Jeron Johnson both forced fumbles, helping the Chiefs to post four takeaways in all.
Williams is know as a run stopper, but Reid was impressed with this his pass rushing success.
“I thought did a good job changing direction back there,” Reid said. That’s tough for a big guy to do.”
The Packers lone score came courtesy of a short field setup when wide receiver Ty Montgomery blocked a Dustin Colquitt punt to give Green Bay the ball at the Chiefs’ 14-yard line. Two plays later, quarterback Joe Callahan found tight end Jared Cook for a 5-yard touchdown catch.
The Chiefs overcame two second-half interceptions by quarterback Aaron Murray. The team’s defense bailed out the third-year quarterback each time by holding the Packers to a punt after each pick.
Murray struggled in his effort to make the squad. He finished 10-18 passing for 108 yards with two interceptions. Rookie Kevin Hogan relieved Murray, connecting on 3 of 7 passes for 11 yards.
Nicolas left the game early with a strained neck and will have an MRI on Saturday. Tight end Brian Parker suffered a shoulder strain.
The Chiefs must pare down the current 76 players on the roster to 53 before 3 p.m. Saturday. They can begin assembling a 10-player practice squad of players who clear waivers starting at noon Sunday.
The team opens the regular season Sept. 11 at home versus the San Diego Chargers.