To the casual observer, it would have been easier to overlook Tyler Bray’s 18-yard touchdown throw to receiver Seantavius Jones in the third quarter of the Chiefs’ 30-12 preseason win Saturday at Cincinnati. By that point of the game, it was third team vs. third team, and the field was littered with players who won’t be on their teams’ 53-man roster in a few weeks.
But don’t tell any of that to Bray or Jones, both of whom took no shortage of delight in the play. For Jones, the touchdown grab — his first of the preseason — was intensely personal. He’d caught a score in the city where he lost his brother, Sean, in 2015 to gun violence.
“Me scoring that touchdown right there was pretty big — it was for my brother,” Jones said, with a hint of emotion after the game.
Jones said he got teary-eyed while thinking about his brother on the ensuing kickoff, where he lined up as a member of the Chiefs’ coverage unit. He could hardly contain his happiness when proceeded to make the tackle on that play, too, capping a two-play stretch to remember.
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“I was trying to hold myself together before the kickoff,” Jones said.
As for Bray, the touchdown — a bullet over the middle — was well-timed reminder of the talent that has kept him in Kansas City as a reserve quarterback since 2013. Bray, 25, has yet to take a regular-season NFL snap, but the Chiefs have kept him around in an effort to groom his special arm talent into a potential contributor down the road. He’d had a tough week, especially after losing his No. 2 job (for the time being, at least) to another strong-armed rookie, Patrick Mahomes, but it was important for Bray to bounce back, and he did so with the touchdown throw.
“I mean to come in, first play, the execution by the entire unit (was great),” Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said. “There were a lot of adjustments that happen on the fly that we work on a long time. To all of a sudden get them all dialed in like that, it was definitely a clinic tape.”
Here’s a breakdown of the play, straight from the film room (all-22 tape is not available in the preseason).
Bray eyed the defense pre-snap, and saw a single safety, split-safety middle look.
But once the ball was snapped, he soon saw the safety — Josh Shaw — help cornerback KeiVarae Russell (a former Chief) defend Demarcus Robinson on the outside.
Jones saw the same Cover 6 look. As soon as he saw the safety bail to help the outside corner, he knew the route to defeat the coverage. He faked outside and ran flat, underneath the safety.
“The adjustment he made on the route — I thought it was sweet,” Smith said of Jones.
Bray knew he had a touchdown — as long as he could look off the strong-side safety.
It was a great route, and Bray trusted Jones would be there. Bray uncorked a missile 15 yards downfield that was right on the money. Touchdown.
“We were just on the same page,” Jones said of he and Bray. “It was really perfect. I knew exactly where (the ball) was going to be. I promise I did.”