NFL Nation: 2014 NFL Preseason Week 2 CIN at KC Observation Deck

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Big plays were the order of the day for the Kansas City Chiefs in their preseason opener Thursday night. They scored twice on interception returns (36 yards by Sean Smith and 51 yards by Malcolm Bronson), a punt return (80 yards by De'Anthony Thomas) and had a 69-yard touchdown pass (Chase Daniel to Travis Kelce).

Those plays covered for sloppiness from the starting offense and defense as the Chiefs beat the Cincinnati Bengals 41-39 at Arrowhead Stadium.

Here are some other thoughts on the Chiefs' first preseason game of the year:
  • The Chiefs need to get cornerback Smith back in their starting lineup. His demotion in favor of Ron Parker never made sense to begin with and it certainly doesn't now. Parker was burned on a 53-yard pass from Andy Dalton to A.J. Green and he picked up two illegal contact penalties, though one was declined. Smith came into the game replacing Parker late in the first quarter. On his first play Smith had his pick-6. If it wasn't clear before, it is now: The Chiefs are a better defense with Smith in their starting lineup.
  • Developments later in the game didn't obscure how sloppy the starting offense was. The most notable development was left tackle Eric Fisher getting beat by Robert Geathers for a sack of Alex Smith. Smith failed to protect the ball and fumbled, and the Bengals recovered. The Chiefs scored five touchdowns but only two on offense.
  • There were things to like and dislike from backup quarterbacks Daniel and Tyler Bray. Daniel was the quarterback for the Chiefs' biggest offensive play, the 69-yard scoring pass to Kelce in the second quarter. But he also tossed a horrible interception. Bray threw a beautiful pass to tight end Demetrius Harris for a 30-yard gain in the third quarter but lost a fumble on the next play.
  • The Chiefs served notice they will be strong on special teams again. Not only did Thomas score on his punt return but fellow rookie Albert Wilson returned a kickoff 65 yards. The kicking battle was a draw. Each kicker made his field-goal attempt, Ryan Succop from 27 yards and rookie Cairo Santos from 28. All PATs were 33-yard tries and Succop hit three, Santos two.
One look at the final score from the Cincinnati Bengals' preseason opener against Kansas City Chiefs, and it would be easy to assume that neither defense showed up Thursday night at Arrowhead Stadium. The Bengals' first- and second-team units actually did play fairly good defense in a 41-39 loss that featured the high number of lineup changes and rotation tweaks that are common this time of year.

Here are some thoughts on the Bengals' first preseason game:
  • Cincinnati's now well-paid starting quarterback Andy Dalton looked fairly sharp in his only drive, completing 3 of the 5 passes he attempted. He was at his best on his first three throws, which were all completed before two incompletions stalled the series and forced a 30-yard field goal. The Bengals got in field goal range on the fifth play of the eight-play drive when Dalton, under pressure, threw a 53-yard bomb to receiver A.J. Green who outran the corner and safety nearby. The pass was evidence of the adjustments Dalton has made to improve his deep-passing numbers. It also came after two runs and a pair of passes that resulted in short completions. Those series of plays were a sign that the Bengals' first-team offense is fluid, and performing just the way new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson has said it would. He's mentioned often that his system will hinge on using its running backs to draw defenses up after allowing modest gains before opening the offense with more efficient passes deep downfield.
  • While Dalton looked strong in his limited action, backup Jason Campbell had more mixed results. Campbell had three touchdown passes, but also had two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. On both occasions, he checked down to the wrong spots, throwing at receivers who were well-covered. The second interception, a 51-yard return by Malcolm Bronson, was telegraphed by Campbell who stared his receiver down before Bronson jumped the route. Interceptions off similar Out routes have been problems in recent practice days for Campbell. Cincinnati hopes he'll be able to correct those issues soon. There also is a hope that he'll even be able to play when the Bengals return to practice Saturday. The veteran was run from the game when he took a shot to his throwing elbow after attempting a third-quarter pass. He left the game on the next play, and trainers put an ice pack on him right away. Campbell's backup performed slightly better against Kansas City's backups. Matt Scott was 7-for-11 and 66 yards passing with two touchdowns. He also ran for 68 yards.
  • Yes, the Bengals gave up 41 points, but that's not a good indication of where the defense stands at this point. Before the third-team rotations started to come in the fourth quarter, the Bengals only allowed one touchdown and two field goals. The Chiefs' other scores were the result of the interception returns for touchdowns and a kickoff return for touchdown. Among the highlights of the Bengals' defensive play were their six sacks, two of which led to fumbles that were recovered by defensive linemen.
  • The Bengals have to be somewhat worried about their special teams play. Kickoff coverage and punt coverage were issues early in the ballgame when the leading coverage units were on the field. Regularly, the group overran returners and allowed them to bounce for bigger gains than should have been allowed. That's what happened on the kick return touchdown, and it's also what led to a long punt return in the first quarter that set up Kansas City's first field goal.