Red Zone

Halftime observations: Chiefs 17, Cardinals 10

The return of Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry overshadowed most of the team’s preseason opener at Arizona on Saturday night.
The return of Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry overshadowed most of the team’s preseason opener at Arizona on Saturday night. AP

1. What was the most important moment of Saturday’s game?

It was easily Eric Berry’s return. From the brief, classy video tribute to him on the scoreboard, to his emotional hug with his mother before the game, his return to action after beating Hodgkin lymphoma was the story of the game and a reminder that some things are more important than football.

2. Now, with that said, what should we make of the starters’ performance?

Meh. Yeah, it’s a preseason game, and it means very little, but if you were a coach, you can bet you’d always prefer for your starters to be the team that led 10-0 after the first quarter, rather than the other way around. At least kicker Cairo Santos, who has missed a few more kicks in training camp than anyone would have liked, drilled a 48-yard field goal to open the second quarter on a drive produced by the starting offense.

3. Speaking of the offense, what about their performance?

The Chiefs tried to go up top on play No. 1, as quarterback Alex Smith lofted a deep ball to Jeremy Maclin. But Tony Jefferson, the Arizona cornerback, was having none of it. He was step-for-step with Maclin the whole way. That’s the kind of night it was for the first-string offense. Smith also threw a garish interception — he deserves blame for that — but he also had an untouched blitzer bearing down on him, for which the line also deserves blame. That’s concerning because the Chiefs were far too susceptible to blitzes and stunts a year ago and if they aren’t better this year, you’ll likely end up seeing the same dink-and-dunk (albeit likely sufficient) offense.

The second-team offense actually looked better than the first-team, as Chase Daniel had it rolling, completing 13 of 16 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns. His favorite target was Fred Williams, who caught six passes for 82 yards and a touchdown, but Frankie Hammond — who is competing with Williams — caught a touchdown, as well.

4. What about the defense?

The defense looked fine, aside from one big play it allowed to running back Andre Ellington, who caught a short pass over the middle — between linebacker Derrick Johnson and safety Husain Abdullah — and sped downfield for a 57-yard gain. That set up his 2-yard plunge for the first touchdown of the game. The group bounced back after Smith’s interception, holding the Cardinals to a field goal after getting the ball in Chiefs territory.

5. What about the injuries?

The extent of the injuries to right tackle Jeff Allen (knee), receiver De’Anthony Thomas (calf) and running back Knile Davis (knee), who all left the game during the first half and were announced to be out for the remainder of the contest, was not immediately known. The good news is that all three players might have capable backups in Donald Stephenson, Jason Avant and the surprise of camp, Charcandrick West. Listing West here is a bit of projection, but he has better hands than Davis and might have been in line to help the offense, anyway, if he could get his blocking down.

The number

269 — Days between football games for Chiefs safety Eric Berry. His last game, prior to Saturday’s appearance, was on Nov. 20 against Oakland. Between then, he’s beaten cancer and inspired his team.

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to tpaylor@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @TerezPaylor. Tap here to download the new Red Zone Extra app for iOS and Android devices.

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