Chiefs beat Bengals 41-39 in preseason opener
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs managed two offensive touchdowns against Cincinnati on Thursday night.
Their defense and special teams trumped them.
Sean Smith and Malcolm Bronson returned interceptions for scores, De’Anthony Thomas brought back a punt 80 yards for another TD and Kansas City beat the Bengals 41-39 in their preseason opener.
Andy Dalton was sharp in his only series for the Bengals after signing a new six-year deal this week. He hit wide receiver A.J. Green for a 53-yard pass to set up the opening field goal.
Dalton quickly gave way to backup Jason Campbell, who was just 6 of 15 for 72 yards. And while he threw a pair of touchdown passes, Campbell also was responsible for the TDs by Smith and Bronson before getting banged up midway through the third quarter and exiting the game.
The Bengals’ Dre Kirkpatrick also returned an interception for a touchdown.
Both teams played their starters sparingly, which is common in preseason openers.
But the Bengals were also forced to use their backups to plug holes caused by injury. Starting offensive linemen Andrew Whitworth, Clint Boling and Andre Smith, tight end Jermaine Gresham, wide receiver Marvin Jones and defensive tackle Geno Atkins all sat out the game.
Chiefs safety Eric Berry and defensive tackle Mike DeVito also did not suit up.
Alex Smith, in negotiations on his own long-term deal, struggled along with the rest of the Chiefs’ first-team offense. They went three-and-out on their opening series, and Smith was strip-sacked on their next possession to set up Campbell’s short TD toss to Brandon Tate.
That was just the start of an entertaining, back-and-forth half.
Albert Wilson returned the ensuing kickoff 65 yards to set up Ryan Succop’s short field for Kansas City. After the Bengals stalled on their next possession, Thomas fielded the punt and spun away from Kirkpatrick before racing 80 yards for a tying touchdown.
On the next offensive play, Campbell was intercepted by Smith — a former starter trying to win his job back — and he returned it 36 yards to give Kansas City a 17-10 lead.
Kirkpatrick atoned for his special teams flub when he intercepted a badly thrown ball by Chiefs backup Chase Daniel and returned it 40 yards for a TD.
After the Chiefs added another field goal, Campbell connected with Dane Sanzenbacher for another score and a 24-20 lead.
In the waning seconds of the half, Daniel found tight end Travis Kelce running open down the seam. The big tight end, who missed his rookie season to injury, hauled in the 69-yard TD pass.
Bronson returned his pick-6 early in the second half to give the Chiefs a 34-24 lead. The teams traded fourth-quarter TDs before Cincinnati scored another touchdown in the final seconds.
Notes: Bengals first-round pick Darqueze Dennard made a sack on a cornerback blitz early in the game. He later left with an undisclosed injury. … Dalton finished 3 of 5 for 71 yards. Smith was 3 of 5 for 19 yards. … Ryan Succop and Cairo Santos, in a battle for the Chiefs kicking job, each hit their only field-goal attempt.