KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Patrick Mahomes gazed over the first-team Kansas City offense Thursday night, lined up before him as if members of a choir, and together the Chiefs took a poignant penalty to honor Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson.
Then they beat the Green Bay Packers 17-10 in an otherwise forgettable preseason finale.
Third-string quarterback Shane Buechele outplayed Chiefs backup Chad Henne, throwing for 166 yards with a pair of TD tosses to journeyman tight end Matt Bushman. Isaih Pacheco capped a strong rookie camp for Kansas City with 52 yards rushing, while veteran Ronald Jones ran for 43 yards in a last-ditch effort at securing a job.
Meanwhile, the Packers' Jordan Love threw for 148 yards with an interception in his final work before Aaron Rodgers takes over for the regular season. Trent Goodson ran for 28 yards and a score as he tries to win the No. 3 running back job.
Yet it was the penalty to honor Dawson, who died this week at the age of 87, that left the lasting impression.
It came after the first-team Chiefs defense forced the Packers, playing their starting offensive line with Love and a host of backups, to a 3-and-out to start the game. Mahomes headed onto the field with most of Kansas City's starting offense and lined them up in the old-fashioned style of huddle favored by Dawson in the 1960s and '70s.
“We all wanted to do something,” Mahomes said. “Obviously, we’re praying for his family, but he did so much to impact the Kansas City community and this organization. We wanted to do something, a little token to show our appreciation.”
Mahomes high-fived his guys while allowing the play clock to run out, then the delay-of-game foul was announced not on his No. 15 but on 16, the number Dawson wore during his playing days. Green Bay declined it.
There were plenty of other tributes Thursday night to “Lenny the Cool," who led the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl title before becoming known to millions more football fans as a Hall of Fame broadcaster. There was a moment of silence before the game and the Chiefs wore a sticker with the No. 16 on his helmet.
“He really took advantage of every day he had on Earth here,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.
Mahomes, who had an excellent first two preseason games, never took a snap before joining Travis Kelce and other Chiefs stars on the sideline. Other starters, such as running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, were done after a couple of snaps.
Most of the work went to those competing for the last few jobs, which must be decided before Tuesday’s deadline for teams to cut rosters to 53 players. Tight end Jody Fortson continued to solidify his job with three catches for 26 yards, while just about everyone on the backup offensive line struggled to lock down a job.
“When you look at your eight, ninth lineman and you look at your fifth linebacker and your sixth receiver, those guys are really going to end up starting, playing meaningful minutes throughout the course of the season,” Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said, “so we’re always trying to turn our roster over.”
The same goes for the Packers, who also spent Thursday night sifting through the last few roster spots.
Goodson got the bulk of the work as he tries to beat out Patrick Taylor and Dexter Williams for the job behind Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon in the Packers backfield, and his 24-yard touchdown run featured a nifty open-field spin move.
Samori Toure had six catches for 83 yards, Amari Rodgers had four catches for 39 yards and Juwann Winfree had one grab for seven yards. All three are in the mix for the last spot or two in the Green Bay receiving corps.
“It's kind of an awkward time for us having a game Thursday and having cuts on Tuesday,” said Packers coach Matt LaFleur, who hopes to squeeze in two more practices before making those decisions. “A lot of it's going to come down to how guys perform on special teams. I thought they all did a lot of good things out there.”
Packers: WR Christian Watson (knee surgery) did not play, which means the 34th overall pick in the draft will go into the season without any NFL game action. ... S Innis Gaines and TE Alize Mack left with hamstring injuries.
Chiefs: CB Trent McDuffie, one of the Kansas City's two first-round picks, was placed in the concussion protocol in the first quarter. ... WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling (concussion) and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) did not play, though Reid hopes to have both of them available for Week 1.
The Packers visit NFC North-rival Minnesota to open their season Sept. 11.
The Chiefs visit the Arizona Cardinals for their opener the same day.
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