CHICAGO | They’ll hold off for now on making their reservations for Tampa and Super Bowl XLIII.
The Chiefs will face more difficult trials than the one they successfully met in their preseason opener, a 24-20 win over the quarterback-challenged Chicago Bears.
The Chiefs, using starters for most of the first half, led 14-3 at the break. The Bears then took advantage of the Kansas City reserves.
Quarterback Tyler Thigpen threw an interception that led to one Chicago touchdown, and the Bears put together a long drive for another.
Thigpen led the winning touchdown drive, throwing 27 yards to Bobby Sippio for the score with 1:08 left.
But for a team trying to fit together its many new pieces, the Chiefs had more than a few things to be encouraged about in the first half.
Atop the list would be their first offensive possession, a drive in which the Chiefs took 16 snaps, covered 81 yards and consumed almost 9 minutes. It ended with Larry Johnson’s 5-yard touchdown run that gave the Chiefs a 7-0 lead.
The Chiefs converted all five of their third-down plays on the drive.
“It couldn’t have gone much better for us,” said quarterback Brodie Croyle, who played one more series and then retired for the night. “I think we converted five third downs. We got our running game going and hit some timely passes. That was what we wanted.
“We feel good about what the first group did. It’s something to build on. We can still correct a lot of things that we didn’t do right.”
The Chiefs were sloppy at times on the drive. Left tackle Herb Taylor committed a holding penalty, and receiver Will Franklin fell down coming out of a break, leaving him out of position to make a catch that would have been a long gain.
They still found their way to the end zone, an improvement over last year when even one such error would have killed the drive.
The Chiefs looked familiar on their next three possessions, going three plays and out. Right tackle Damion McIntosh was penalized for holding on the last series quarterbacked by Croyle, and the Bears graciously declined two other fouls.
The next two drives came with Huard as their quarterback.
But Huard led the backups on a 75-yard touchdown drive in the final 1:44. He passed 25 yards to Maurice Price and 24 yards to Jeff Webb, getting the Chiefs inside the Bears’ 10.
Huard and Price came close to connecting on an 8-yard touchdown, but Price couldn’t get his second foot down in-bounds after catching the fade pass.
Huard went back to Price on the next play and this time, the Chiefs got the 8-yard score when Price ran over defenders to get into the end zone.
Price, Webb and Franklin all made big receptions. Franklin on the opening drive caught two passes, including a 22-yarder to the Chicago 6 on third and 16.
The Bears managed only Robbie Gould’s 42-yard field goal in the first half. The Chiefs got some help from the Bears, most notably when Chicago quarterback Kyle Orton dropped the ball without being touched on third down from the Chiefs’ 15 immediately before the field goal.
The Chiefs couldn’t stand the usual prosperity. Chicago’s Rod Wilson intercepted a Thigpen pass he tried to force through coverage, giving Chicago the ball at the Kansas City 25.
Garrett Wolfe scored on a 25-yard pass from Rex Grossman on the next play.
The Bears took the lead after an 80-yard drive with Caleb Hanie throwing 13 yards to former Kansas receiver Brandon Rideau for the touchdown and a 17-14 lead late in the third quarter.
Connor Barth kicked a 37-yard field goal for the Chiefs and tied the score in the fourth period.
Gould’s 37-yard field goal with 3:19 left in the game broke the tie.
The Chiefs took over at their 40 after the Bears put the kickoff out of bounds. A series of short gains moved the Chiefs deep into Chicago territory, where they scored the winning touchdown.