Former Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer often quipped that the most quickly forgotten game in an NFL season is the final preseason game.
And the Chiefs, or more specifically their backups, played a game they’d like to soon forget in Thursday night’s 34-14 loss to Green Bay’s reserves at historic Lambeau Field.
The Chiefs, who open the regular season on Sept. 7 at home against Tennessee, finished the preseason 1-3, losing three straight by an aggregate 50 points.
“It’s good to get the preseason over, and let’s get on with the regular season,” said coach Andy Reid. “We had an opportunity to play a lot of young guys today, which is one of the positives. We’ll have a chance to evaluate some of the young players and go from there.”
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Indeed, the game was played by at least 22 players on each team who won’t be around after Saturday night’s roster reductions from 75 to 53. But the most alarming number for Reid (and Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy) was the number of penalties called.
The Chiefs were flagged 14 times for 131 yards and, though they were backup players, at least seven of the 10 who were penalized should make the 53-man roster.
“We don’t look at ‘em as backup players, we look at ‘em as mistakes, and we have to correct those,” said Reid, whose team had 13 penalties for 131 yards two weeks ago at Carolina but just two last week against Minnesota. “Fourteen penalties are obviously way too much, you can cut that in half, and it’s way too much.
“I can’t tell you I agreed with all of them, but you can cut half of them in half, and it could be a quarter of those, and it’s still too many. It’s ridiculous. You can’t have that many penalties.”
Green Bay was guilty of its share of penalties as well. The Packers were flagged nine times for 81 yards as the officials continued to emphasize illegal contact and defensive holding.
When Chiefs fourth-team quarterback Aaron Murray led his team on an 80-yard touchdown drive at the end of the third quarter, the Packers were called for four defensive penalties, including roughing the passer fouls on consecutive plays.
That enabled Joe McKnight to cap the drive with a 1-yard run, drawing the Chiefs to within 27-14 with 3 seconds left in the third period.
Murray appeared to have connected with McKnight for a 36-yard touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter, but McKnight was called for illegal touching of the ball because he went out of bounds before catching the ball.
“It was a frustrating thing just to watch ourselves kick ourselves down and keep us from where we want to be,” said tight end Travis Kelce. “We had some things rolling there, and we had a lot of success in the beginning of drives, but we kept kicking ourselves down with the penalties.
“Whether it was backups or not, everybody has to be accountable on every single play.”
The sloppiness of the Chiefs was typified in the third quarter when Green Bay went 94 yards in three plays — plus two Kansas City penalties for 44 yards.
Rookie cornerback Phillip Gaines, who had been burned for a touchdown in the first half, was called for pass interference for climbing on the pack of Packers receiver Jeff Janis, a 33-yard penalty. It was the fourth penalty of the night called on Gaines, a third-round pick from Rice.
On the next play, safety Kelcie McCray was flagged for a personal foul when he hit Green Bay rookie running back LaDarius Perkins on the way out of bounds at the end of a 22-yard run. The penalty moved the ball 11 yards to the Chiefs 11.
Perkins scored from there, giving the Packers a 27-7 lead with 6:23 left in the third quarter.
Second-year quarterback Tyler Bray led the Chiefs to their first touchdown, a 2-yard pass to tight end Richard Gordon that made it 20-7 with 3:21 left in the first half.
Frankie Hammond Jr.’s 46-yard kickoff return following a Green Bay field goal set up the Chiefs for that lone score of the first half.
On the first play of the drive, Bray hit A.J. Jenkins, who laid out for the ball along the sidelines, for a 45-yard gain to the Green Bay 9, putting the Chiefs in position for the touchdown pass to Gordon. Jenkins left the game at halftime because of a concussion.
The big pass play from Bray to Jenkins atoned for an interception earlier in the quarter when Jenkins appeared to cut his route short and Bray’s pass was anticipated and intercepted by Packers cornerback Jarrett Bush.
“It was up and down,” Reid said of Bray’s performance. “He had a couple high balls he threw, but he had a touchdown drive, and was able to get it in the end zone.”