KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes took his first snap of the preseason, dropped back and set his feet, then threw a perfect pass down the sideline to Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce for a big gain.
It’s was almost as if last season never ended.
The league MVP picked up where he left off from his record-breaking debut as the starter, leading Kansas City to a first-quarter touchdown in a 38-17 rout of the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday night.
Mahomes did a bit of everything on his only series with the first-team offense, too. The gunslinger was 4 for 4 for 66 yards, added a wild 10-yard scramble in which he wisely slid at the goal line to avoid a big hit, and even induced an offside penalty with his barking cadence.
“I felt great. To get out there, make some throws, get the guys kind of rolling,” he said. “Run game, pass game, I thought it was a good drive to start everything off.”
It came after an equally impressive drive by the Cincinnati starters.
Andy Dalton converted a series of third downs while leading the Bengals on a 14-play, 75-yard TD march to open the game . And he did it without the services of injured wide receiver A.J. Green or his top two running backs, Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard, who were given the night off.
“That’s how you want to start the game,” Dalton said. “We feel like we’ve got depth on this team. We’ve got talent. So for us to miss some of our guys that’ll be starting for us this year, not in there, I thought we did a great job.”
On that drive, perhaps. But first-year head coach Zac Taylor had a different assessment as a whole.
“You really look at a game like this, 38-17 final score, we had two turnovers on special teams, countless penalties on offense and a defensive pass interference that extended a drive that had a big stop,” he said. “That’s life in the NFL right now. We’ve got to correct those mistakes.”
The most interesting thing to happen in the game came late in the first half, when Kyle Shurmur was marching the Chiefs downfield. His throw to Byron Pringle down the sideline was picked by safety Brandon Wilson, scuttling the drive and giving Cincinnati a chance with the ball.
But under a rule change approved by NFL owners in March, pass interference calls can be reviewed — a response to the controversial on-call in the NFC title game last season. And when officials reviewed the play Saturday night, they decided that cornerback Tony Lippett had caused interference.
The penalty gave the Chiefs the ball back and they wound up kicking a field goal.
In a delicious coincidence, the provision passed by a 31-1 vote of owners at the league’s annual meeting in Phoenix. The only team that voted against the rule was Cincinnati.