KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill have talked openly about the Kansas City Chiefs chasing a perfect season.
Well, the two were nearly perfect Friday night.
Mahomes was 8 of 9 for 117 yards and two touchdowns in his only two chances with the ball, including a 35-yard TD strike to the fleet-footed Hill, and the Chiefs beat the Minnesota Vikings 28-25 to finish 3-0 in the preseason.
Now come 17 regular-season games and, the Chiefs hope, three more in the postseason.
“We didn’t change the script,” Mahomes said, “but we went through that pregame mock week. You had a couple preseason games they had played, and we went through that routine I’ve built. And having that and going against the defense playing a scout-team defense, we came out a little faster and crisper and were able to move the ball.”
Indeed, Mahomes was sharper than he'd been his first two exhibitions, his only miss a throw-away with nobody open. After his touchdown toss to Hill, Mahomes finished his night with a short touchdown pass to tight end Blake Bell.
“I knew going in that we had enough reps — what I thought were enough reps — so it was strictly the comfort the offense had working together, and the defense had,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “We had some long drives, some good work.”
Mahomes' counterpart, Kirk Cousins, wasn't nearly as effective for Minnesota. He led the Vikings to a field goal on his first offensive series but went three-and-out on each of the next two, finishing 5 of 7 for 57 yards. Cousins looked out of sync with his receivers and took a big loss on a sack by Anthony Hitchens.
Third-round pick Kellen Mond, who appears to have the edge on Jake Browning for the Vikings' backup job, was 16 of 23 for 196 yards with an interception. Browning was just 2 of 8 for 41 yards.
“We moved the ball well the first drive. We got stopped when we got to the red zone,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “Then we didn't do much the next two drives. And defensively we had a few of our horses that didn't play tonight and you could see that some of these backups need to improve quickly.”
Chiefs backup Chad Henne didn't play Friday night, so Shane Buechele got plenty of work. The rookie was sharp driving KC for a TD and a 21-3 halftime lead, but Buechele also threw a pick-six to Parry Nickerson in the fourth quarter.
“Chad’s had enough reps,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “I wanted to get the young kid some good, extended play time.”
The Vikings' defense scored two touchdowns during their three preseason losses. Their offense had scored only one until the final minutes Friday night, a 32-yard scamper by backup running back A.J. Rose Jr. in the third quarter.
Derrick Gore answered with a 56-yard catch-and-run to help Kansas City finish its perfect preseason.
“They know they've got a good football team coming in here in Cleveland, so you don't have to say a whole lot," said Reid, who now must trim his roster to the 53-man limit by Tuesday. “They know what’s ahead of them.”
Defensive ends Chris Jones (sinus infection) and Frank Clark (hamstring), running backs Clyde Edward-Helaire (ankle) and Darrel Williams (concussion) and defensive back Rashad Fenton (hamstring) did not play for Kansas City.
Defensive end Everson Griffen, who signed with Minnesota for the veteran minimum this week, joined the team for its final dress rehearsal. He even got some pressure on the quarterback on one of his first chances on the field.
“The times he was in there,” Zimmer said, “he had some good rushes. He hit the quarterback on one. He did good in there."
It was 91 degrees at kickoff with a heat index of 96, though at least most of the field was shaded. Those fans sitting behind the Minnesota bench on the north side of Arrowhead Stadium also spent the first half baking in the setting sun.
TIME FOR TEREZ
The Chiefs donated $10,000 to a scholarship fund at Howard University in honor of Terez Paylor, the longtime NFL writer for the Kansas City Star and Yahoo! Sports who died earlier this year. Mayor Quinton Lucas signed a proclamation making it Terez A. Paylor Day in Kansas City, and the Chiefs retired his seat in the Arrowhead Stadium press box.
“His legacy of excellent reporting with a human touch, deep knowledge of football and being someone who always had time to help out a friend or offer mentorship will now impact future generations, too," his fiancée Ebony Reed said.
Minnesota visits Cincinnati on Sept. 12 for the first of back-to-back road games to start the season.
Kansas City awaits Cleveland on Sept. 12 in a rematch of last year's divisional-round playoff game.
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