KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The most disappointing thing for Alex Smith about Saturday night’s game against Minnesota wasn’t his two interceptions in the red zone. Nor the fact that Kansas City’s first-team offense still has not scored a touchdown this preseason.
It was that the Chiefs treated this week as if they were preparing for a regular-season game, a true dress rehearsal — and they were routed 30-12 by the Vikings.
"It hurts," Smith said simply.
Not as much it could in a couple weeks if the Chiefs, ransacked by injuries and suspensions, are unable to sort out a multitude of problems on both sides of the ball.
Smith was 14 of 24 for 124 yards while playing without running back Jamaal Charles, out with a foot injury, and top wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, who is dealing with a groin injury. Bowe is suspended for the season opener following his arrest last November.
Smith didn’t get much help from his offensive line, either. With Donald Stephenson suspended for four games for violating the league’s drug policy, left guard Jeff Allen has been forced to move into his spot at right tackle. Jeff Linkenbach and Ricky Henry are left trying to fill in at the guard spot — and none of them fared particularly well against Minnesota.
"Listen, there were issues," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "I probably need to look at the tape before I say too much, but obviously it wasn’t good enough."
Meanwhile, Matt Cassel made a winning return to Arrowhead Stadium.
The quarterback who was booed, benched and eventually released two years ago by the Chiefs, threw for 152 yards and a TD as he tries to hold off Teddy Bridgewater for the starting job.
"Honestly, I have no ill will toward Kansas City or anything that happened here," Cassel said. "The one thing I can look back on in my time here is I gave 110 percent. I tried to go about my business in a certain manner. Unfortunately it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to here."
Cassel also threw an interception before turning things over to Bridgewater in the third quarter. The rookie quarterback threw two TD passes to tight end Allen Reisner to seal the win.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer declined to say whether he was ready to anoint Cassel the starter, but he did laud the veteran for his poise in what could have been an emotional night.
"He got hit and smacked a few times. Stood in there and we dropped a couple of balls. So it’s not all on the quarterback," he said, "and I thought he did well and I thought Teddy did well."
The Chiefs weren’t the only ones missing some star power. Running back Adrian Peterson, excused from practice this week, dressed for the Vikings but did not play.
Matt Asiata carried 11 times for 48 yards in his place.
"Most of the time games don’t really get out of hand like that," Zimmer said. "It’s really important that our players don’t get overconfident. We’ve got so many things we have to work on. But I’m proud of this football team. I like how they work."
Not everything went perfectly for Cassel after his long touchdown pass to Patterson gave the Vikings a 7-0 lead. He was sacked on third down on their ensuing possession, and was stripped of the ball by the Chiefs’ Jaye Howard for a safety later in the first quarter.
The Chiefs moved the ball well in the first half, but two promising drives ended when Smith was intercepted by Captain Munnerlyn in the end zone and by Chad Greenway near the goal line.
Blair Walsh kicked a pair of field goals to extend Minnesota’s lead to 13-5, and both teams pulled their starters in the third quarter. Bridgewater and Reisner connected twice in a span of 1 minute, 44 seconds later in the quarter to put things out of reach.
"We all would have loved to end it here on a better note," Smith said, "but I’m still very comfortable with where we’re at. We got a ton of great work in here. Just need to finish."
NOTES: Backup QB Tyler Bray threw a late TD pass for Kansas City. … Vikings SS Robert Blanton (hamstring) and DT Linval Joseph (calf) did not play, nor did Chiefs SS Eric Berry (heel), WRs Bowe (quad) and Junior Hemingway (hip), and LB Joe Mays (wrist surgery).