The Falcons stayed healthy and the team’s starters looked borderline dominant. I really can’t say anything more encouraging about this game than that.
Atlanta moved the ball well on offense and played extremely well on defense until the starters exited the game, and if things got worse from there, that’s perfectly understandable, especially since the Chiefs’ first team offense was going up against backups. We saw what we needed to see, and the Falcons didn’t lose anyone they couldn’t afford to lose.
Atlanta’s now in good shape and on track to give the starters a little more run against the tough Jaguars defense a week from now. Here’s a breakdown of the game, quarter-by-quarter.
The Falcons got things moving right away with a nice return by Calvin Ridley, who showed wiggle and strength on a nearly 30 yard return, including a nice stiff arm. The offense didn’t oblige after that, though, with Matt Ryan missing on a pass to Ridley, Tevin Coleman slipping on his first carry, and...oh, wait, a first down. Matt Ryan hit Austin Hooper, Tevin Coleman picked up more than ten on the next carry, 13 yards on the subsequent carry, and the Falcons were well into the red zone. Matt Ryan found Austin Hooper on a rollout and touchdown, Falcons, giving them their first points of preseason.
Falcons 7 - Chiefs 0
The Falcons, meanwhile, got a three and out. Brooks Reed and Duke Riley came up with stops after short runs, while Brian Poole absolutely drilled a Chiefs receiver short of the first down to force Kansas City (which is not in Kansas) to punt.
The Falcons got moving again early on the next drive, with Ryan finding Marvin Hall over the middle for a quick 16 yard gain. Then, after a quick Coleman run and Chiefs penalty, Ryan bombed one to Calvin Ridley for 36 yards. The Falcons did ultimately stall out after going for it on fourth down, but it’s preseason, and they were definitely within field goal range, had it been the regular season.
The Chiefs got it moving a little bit thanks to penalties (a wrong helmet rule call on Keanu Neal) and some nice passes (Mahomes has a bit of an arm). We also saw the Falcons front seven really eating up that Kansas City offensive line, however, which was awfully encouraging.
It was less encouraging to see Mahomes firing the ball out and moving the Chiefs down inside Atlanta’s 20. They almost scored, too, but a penalty brought them back and the Falcons nearly intercepted two straight passes and forced a field goal.
Falcons 7 - Chiefs 3
Matt Schaub got in the game, and against all odds, played very well. He connected with Justin Hardy and Russell Gage on back-to-back throws, though the one to Gage was a little high, and the Falcons were off to the races. Ito Smith picked up a couple of nice gains, even if he maybe spun a little too much en route to a first down. The Falcons got into the red zone, though, and Calvin Ridley ran a beautiful route to grab his first touchdown. Falcons winning by quite a bit, now.
Falcons 14 - Chiefs 3
Damontae Kazee got the interception. He is a beautiful man, and a talented one, and the Falcons are going to have to find some playing time for him. The only question is how much, and where.
The Falcons got driving and got inside the red zone, and once again tried to go for it on fourth down. Despite not converting, it’s nice to see them trying things out in preseason, and you had to like the blocking from young fullback Ricky Ortiz, who figures to have the fullback job all but sewn up at this point.
The Chiefs looked like they might move a little, but that was before Patrick Mahomes showed off the arm that made him a first round pick in the first place. Against Atlanta’s (mostly) second-team defense, he hit Tyreek Hill on a 69 yard touchdown pass that was in the air most of that span, putting Kansas City close. It was a legitimately impressive throw.
Falcons 14 - Chiefs 10
With the deep reserves in, things started to go awry. The Falcons missed tackles and took bad angles as Chad Henne and the Chiefs offense went to work, and as a result, Kansas City was able to move down field pretty effectively. It ended with a 27 yard strike from Henne to a receiver with the last name Dieter, and this was about the point that I decided to check out.
Falcons 14 - Chiefs 17
It was then Kurt Benkert time. He started things off with a nice throw to Marvin Hall for a 12 yard pickup, but things petered out quickly, with Benkert missing two consecutive throws to Devin Gray because he put too much on them. Punt.
Chad Henne scrambled for a first down, the broadcast booth mentioned D.J. Shockley eating oysters, and Kansas City eventually had to punt. Time started to lose its meaning, as it does in preseason games.
The Falcons couldn’t get much of anything going, as Benkert had a pass broken up and got sacked. Punt.
Kansas City ran out the clock on the quarter.
With the very deepest reserves in, the Chiefs had little trouble running the ball. They just couldn’t do much else, given that Matt McGloin was busy throwing tentative passes and falling down a lot. They did get into field goal range, with Harrison Butker nailing a 49 yarder to put KC up by six.
Falcons 14 - Chiefs 20
The Falcons had a chance to win it after this, no matter how unimportant that is. Then Kurt Benkert threw a pick six, which probably pumps the brakes a little bit on the talk of him potentially stealing the job away from Matt Schaub, though he should still push for a practice squad spot. Not a great play, though, even if he had pressure in his face.
Then the Chiefs got their two point conversion. Woof.
Falcons 14 - Chiefs 28
Malik Williams had one nice run where he was sprung by Sean Harlow, then he got destroyed behind the line of scrimmage, then Benkert missed another pass. Punt.
The Chiefs benefitted on the next drive from missed tackles and quick passes that saw them keep it moving, mercifully shortening the game. They were confronted with a fourth and short after the two minute warning, and chose to punt.
The Falcons had a dropped pass/fumble for Terrence Magee that chewed up more of our valuable time on their next drive, and after an agonizingly lengthy review, the Chiefs got the ball back. They chose to run out the clock, and the game was over.