NEW ORLEANS — The first 9 minutes of Friday night’s preseason opener was everything the Chiefs would like their season to be.
They were efficient on both sides of the ball and on special teams while the regulars played. The game then devolved into the typical exhibition game and the Chiefs, after taking an early 10-point lead, lost 17-13 to the Saints to begin the Andy Reid era
New starting quarterback Alex Smith led a touchdown drive on his first try. The Chiefs used a hurry-up offense on a 14-play, 80-yard drive that was methodical, if not spectacular.
“We draw them all up that way,” Reid said. “Not that they all turn out that way. We didn’t have any penalties. We didn’t have any dropped balls or some of those other things that happen like fumbled snaps … that you can see in the preseason. We stayed away from those and we were able to extend the drive on third down.”
The longest gain on the drive was just 13 yards, but Smith completed seven of his eight passes for 68 yards and the Chiefs twice converted on third down to extend the possession. Jamaal Charles finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
“It’s what you envision for situations like this,” Smith said. “Come out strong, put a long drive together. I thought it was a good mix of run and pass. I thought it was a good start for us.
“It’s just one step. It’s an early step. It’s a little confirmation of where we’re going, maybe what this thing will look like in the regular season.”
The first-team defense forced the Saints to punt after allowing one first down. Dontari Poe and Justin Houston put pressure on New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees on a third-down play and forced an incompletion and a punt.
The Chiefs’ starters were finished for the night at that point, but the regulars on special teams delivered one more big play. Dexter McCluster returned the punt 55 yards, and though the Chiefs — with Chase Daniel at quarterback — went three plays and out, they still managed a 42-yard field goal from Ryan Succop for a 10-0 lead.
After Smith and the other starters left the game, the Chiefs accomplished little offensively.
“After that, we had protection problems,” Reid said. “We didn’t get much of a passing game going.”
Brees went to work against the backup defenders for the Chiefs and led New Orleans on a drive that ended on Garrett Hartley’s 24-yard field goal.
Neither team could manage much offensively the rest of the half, though the Saints at one point did get to the Chiefs’ 24, where they faced fourth and 1. Allen Bailey got in the backfield and tackled running back Travaris Cadet for a 2-yard loss to end the drive.
New Orleans opened the second-half scoring when backup quarterback Luke McCown capped an 80-yard drive with a 2-yard scoring pass to Preston Parker.
Tyler Bray came in at quarterback for the Chiefs and promptly fumbled after being sacked. New Orleans recovered, but the Chiefs took possession again when Tysyn Hartman intercepted McCown’s pass on the next play.
But the Chiefs soon punted, and McCown led another long touchdown drive, this one also ending with a 2-yard scoring pass to Parker.
Rookie Knile Davis returned a kickoff 79 yards to the New Orleans 27 and the Chiefs quickly moved to the Saints’ 13 after a roughing-the-passer penalty. The drive stalled, and Succop kicked a 32-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 17-13.
Ricky Stanzi replaced Bray at quarterback for the Chiefs. Both of his first two possessions started inside the Kansas City 20 and ended with punts.
Stanzi moved the Chiefs to midfield on his third and final possession but the drive ended when his fourth-down pass for Frankie Hammond was incomplete.
The Saints then killed the clock. They eventually had first and goal at the 1 but quarterback Ryan Griffin kneeled on three straight plays as the Saints declined to try for another touchdown.