VAHE GREGORIAN

Chase Daniel makes most of second-half chance with Chiefs

Updated: 2013-09-08T15:45:19Z

By VAHE GREGORIAN

The Kansas City Star

— For most, the NFL preseason is tedious enough. And an overtime game? Even more pointless. Almost numbing.

But don’t suggest that to Chiefs No. 2 quarterback Chase Daniel, who drove his team to the game-tying field goal and threaded a 15-yard touchdown pass to Rico Richardson in overtime as the Chiefs beat Pittsburgh 26-20 on Saturday at Heinz Field.

“It’s more playing time,” said Daniel, who considers the preseason his own personal playoffs. “Absolutely. It means everything.”

That playing time is vital for the Chiefs, who were perhaps served a reminder of the vulnerability of starter Alex Smith when he was mashed on a personal foul by Troy Polamalu in the first half.

Smith apparently shrugged that off, but he’s had trouble staying healthy in his career: Only twice in seven previous NFL seasons has he played in all 16 regular-season games. The five other years, he played in 11 or fewer.

In other words, Daniel best be ready to be called upon for the first meaningful regular-season snaps of his NFL career.

In four seasons backing up Drew Brees in New Orleans, Daniel threw just nine passes and completed seven for 55 yards.

“I just haven’t had a chance in the regular season to do it,” he said.

The preseason has been another matter.

In Saints’ exhibitions, Daniel completed 105 of 165 for 1,354 yards, 11 touchdowns and six interceptions. After hitting 14 of 24 for 152 yards on Saturday, in three games with the Chiefs he’s 26 of 40 for 245 yards.

“I’ve obviously got a lot of trust in him,” coach Andy Reid said, “and he didn’t do anything to disappoint that, that’s for sure.”

Daniel disappointed himself some, taking three sacks on the final drive of regulation and misfiring on a few passes he’d like back.

“Those three sacks at the end of the game are tough; you’re trying to make a play downfield, holding on to it a little longer than normal,” he said.

As for the errant passes? Daniel figured he’d see some things in reviewing the game that would make be “very harsh on myself.”

“There were some easy throws I’ve got to make,” said Daniel, who figured his mechanics betrayed him and that he had most likely dropping his elbow as he threw.

Even so, Daniel reckoned a lot more went right than didn’t, and that’s hard to dispute.

For openers, there was the game-winning pass to rookie Richardson, who wasn’t the primary receiver as he ran a corner route.

“He was wide open; he ran an awesome route,” Daniel said, laughing and adding, “It seemed like the ball was in the air forever, just making sure he was able to run under it and get two feet inbounds.”

And then there was his running.

Daniel, in fact, led the Chiefs with 45 yards on the ground. That included 36 yards, highlighted by a run of 18, on the game-winning drive.

That was mostly Daniel taking advantage of the defensive sets that with most of the pass defenders turning their backs to him.

“So you really have four guys to get through,” he said, “and we were able to do that and make some runs when they counted.”

Smith said: “He did a great job recognizing (the defense), scrambling for some first downs and made some great throws — obviously the game winner being the big one.”

On balance, then…

“Four, five, six plays you wish you had back,” Daniel said. “But overall in 40 plays, you don’t want those six plays that are bad, but you’ll take it.”

Even if a lot of them were in overtime.

“I’m so glad we had that,” he said.

The Chiefs should be, too. Not just because they won but because they got valuable time for and from a player they need to cultivate.

To reach Vahe Gregorian, call 816-234-4366 or send email to vgregorian@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/vgregorian.

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