Call it mid-term grades. The game kicked off an hour late after a storm blew through the area and blew our print deadline.
So these grades reflect the first half of the Chiefs-Steelers game. The Chiefs played their top two quarterbacks, Patrick Mahomes and Chad Henne, in the first half.
Ben Rothlisberger didn’t play for the Steelers, but many of the Steelers other offensive starters did play for part of the first half.
KC Star of the game: Two early candidates were cornerback Herb Miller and Henne. Miller forced a fumble and had a nice pass breakup but later didn’t hold the edge on a touchdown run and got burned on a deep pass.
Henne hit some big completions on the first-half touchdown drive but lost a fumble. Let’s go with Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward, whose end zone interception and 49-yard return gave the Chiefs a scoring opportunity just before halftime.
Reason to hope: The Chiefs’ defense came up with a three-and-out to open the game, a nice change from the long touchdown drive by the Bengals in last week’s preseason opener.
Reason to mope: Too many mistakes. Lost fumbles by Henne and running back Carlos Hyde in the first half were discouraging for a team that usually ranks near the top in turnover ratio.
Looking ahead: The Chiefs return to Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday to meet the San Francisco 49ers. Old friend alert: Dee Ford now plays for the Niners. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
Passing offense: C
Mahomes played only two series and his best moment was a scramble and slide. Henne had some nice throws. Placement on the 17-yard touchdown throw to Mecole Hardman in traffic was terrific, and he hit Deon Yelder and Marcus Kemp on deep balls. Both pass catchers were injured on those plays, Yelder with an ankle, Kemp with a knee.
Rushing offense: B
Hyde’s fumble was a bummer, but he had run untouched for about seven yards before he was hit. The starting offensive line had a good game. So did rookie Darwin Thompson. He got the edge twice for first-down runs and averaged 7.5 on four carries.
Passing defense: B
The Ward interception pushes up the grade. Other good moments included an end-zone break up by Juan Thornhill and linebacker Ben Neimann blowing up a screen for a loss.
Rushing defense: C
The defense collapsed on Jaylen Smith’s 14-yard touchdown run. He could have walked into the end zone.
Special teams: D
The Chiefs didn’t do much with kickoff returns, and Hardman lost 16 yards on a punt return. Harrison Butker had the distance on a 58-yard attempt to end the first half but missed right.
The Chiefs turned a Steelers first-and-goal at the 6 with 21 seconds remaining in the first half into a long field goal attempt. The Ward interception was the big play, but clock management got the field goal unit on the field.
And, again, sitting Mahomes earlier than advertised — he departed after two series — may disappoint some fans, but it was the smart move, especially on a field that had just taken rain.