Browns vs. Chiefs: Preseason Fireworks and Frantic Finishes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Deshaun Watson acknowledges that there’s work to be done with about two weeks remaining before the season opener. However, the Browns’ quarterback is optimistic, believing they’re making progress in the right direction.

Yet, his outlook wasn’t as rosy after the first two drives on Saturday’s game.

Watson found himself in a fumbled handoff situation that abruptly ended one drive against Kansas City. Following that, he threw two incomplete passes, leading to a quick three-and-out.

Nonetheless, the $230 million quarterback managed to settle in, guiding the Browns to touchdowns on his next two drives. The Chiefs, relying heavily on their backup players, made a comeback to secure a 33-32 win in their preseason finale.

Watson commented, “Facing adversity early on was good for us. We made some plays, moved the ball, and got various players involved.”

This included the Browns’ defense, which saw Juan Thornhill and Caleb Biggers score pick-six touchdowns, giving them a 29-16 lead.

After the Chiefs took a late fourth-quarter lead of 30-29, Browns’ kicker Cade York, who had been struggling, made a 40-yard field goal to regain the lead. But the Chiefs marched back, with Harrison Butker nailing a 44-yarder. York’s last chance with 53 seconds left was partially blocked and fell short.

Reflecting on his performance, York said, “People offered their support, but I don’t want pity. I know my capabilities, and it’s been frustrating to struggle over the past month.”

Watson had limited playing time in the Browns’ first three preseason games, but coach Kevin Stefanski gave him the entire first quarter against the Chiefs (2-1). Watson completed 5 of 10 passes for 92 yards, including a touchdown pass to David Njoku.

Stefanski commented, “In those 20 plays, we saw everything – downfield throws, scramble plays, third downs, and some good passes along with some he’d want back. It was beneficial to have Deshaun face various situations.”

Both teams rested many of their stars in this preseason finale, including Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce for Kansas City, and Myles Garrett for Cleveland. This left the outcome in the hands of the backups.

Despite the precautions, the game resulted in injuries for Cleveland (1-2-1). Jakeem Grant Sr. suffered a significant knee injury while returning the opening kickoff, and Denzel Ward entered the concussion protocol. Jordan Elliott and Jordan Kunaszyk also suffered injuries.

For the Chiefs, the backup quarterback competition continued with Shane Buechele and Blaine Gabbert. Buechele had a tough outing, going 8 of 17 for 89 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Gabbert fared slightly better, completing 10 of 18 passes for 169 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception.

In the battle for the last wide receiver spots, Justyn Ross and Ihmir Smith-Marsette scored touchdowns for Kansas City. La’Mical Perine showed promise, potentially securing a backup role in the backfield with 32 rushing yards and 44 receiving yards, along with a touchdown.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid noted, “There were some good things, but there are areas that need improvement. Turnovers cost us points, and we can’t afford that.”

Key players who didn’t play in the preseason finale:

Browns: Myles Garrett, Nick Chubb, Joel Bitonio.

Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Nick Bolton.

Injury updates:

Browns: RT Jack Conklin (concussion), Jerome Ford (hamstring), Grant Delpit (arm), Marquise Goodwin (illness), Anthony Schwartz (hamstring).

Chiefs: LB Leo Chenal (hamstring), Kadarius Toney (knee), L’Jarius Sneed (knee), Isiah Pacheco (shoulder).

Upcoming games:

Browns: Open the season against AFC North rival Cincinnati on Sept. 10.

Chiefs: Face the Lions on Sept. 7 in the NFL’s regular-season opener.

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