Saturday's NFL: Garoppolo, Mahomes both sharp as 49ers top Chiefs
Kansas City, Mo. — During pregame warm-ups, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo wandered over to the spot near the 10-yard line in Arrowhead Stadium where last season came to a crashing end with a torn knee ligament.
“Once I did that,” he said, “it was over with. Time to move on.”
He did that quite well.
After a rusty preseason debut last week, Garoppolo was sharp and efficient in leading San Francisco to a 27-17 victory over the Chiefs on Saturday night. He was 14-of-20 for 188 yards and a touchdown while playing the entire first half, his nightmare Week 3 of last season becoming just a memory.
“Leading up to it and everything, enough people talked about it. I definitely thought about it,” Garoppolo said. “But it’s good to get it out of the way, I think is the best way to put it.”
Garoppolo led the 49ers deep into Kansas City territory four times, throwing a nice TD pass to Matt Breida and getting two field goals from Robbie Gould. The other drive ended on a failed fourth down.
“Last week wasn’t nearly as bad as it looked, but it definitely looked that bad live,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “Today, everyone was on the same page a little bit better, moved the chains a couple of times and just got into a rhythm and start playing football.”
Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes was just as good, going 8-of-10 for 126 yards. The highlight for him was a 62-yard catch-and-run to Damien Williams, who made the defensive end covering him look foolish.
“To catch that ball and score that touchdown,” Mahomes said, “that explosiveness is always good.”
Mahomes was so sharp in what was likely his final tuneup before the regular season that the league MVP even completed his first incompletion — it was just caught out of bounds. His only other misfire was a drop by backup tight end Blake Bell before coach Andy Reid gave Mahomes a visor to wear.
“I just thought he’d had enough,” Reid said. “They’ve had a lot of work, a lot of work in training camp. We practice fast and hard and we have some live periods where you tackle to the ground. We just felt like we were in a good place there.”
Garoppolo kept his helmet on, leading a two-minute drill that gave the 49ers a go-ahead field goal.
They clung to that 13-10 halftime advantage until Chiefs backup quarterback Kyle Shurmur led a 13-play, 97-yard drive that took up most of the third quarter. Byron Pringle capped it with a short TD run as the second-year pro tries to make the Chiefs as an extra wide receiver.
The 49ers answered with a 12-play drive of their own. Nick Mullens, who is battling C.J. Beathard for their backup quarterback job, led the way and Jeff Wilson Jr. finished it with a TD run.
Wilson put the game away with another touchdown run with 3:41 to go.
More NFL exhibition games
(At) Dallas 34, Houston 0: Deshaun Watson didn’t get the longer preseason look he wanted against the Dallas Cowboys.
The Houston Texans couldn’t get their quarterback off the field fast enough, especially after running back Lamar Miller sustained what coach Bill O’Brien called a serious knee injury on the second play.
Watson didn’t return for a second series after getting dropped twice in three plays. The first play wasn’t a sack because of defensive holding, the second was and resulted in a fumble, the first of four Houston turnovers in an exhibition loss to the Cowboys.
Miller was carted off after defensive tackle Maliek Collins slammed into his left leg at the line of scrimmage in what figures to be Miller’s only carry of the preseason. The eighth-year back didn’t play in the first two exhibitions.
Dak Prescott scrambled and threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Michael Gallup while playing the first two series for Dallas. Prescott was 2 of 5 for 22 yards, the three incompletions his first of the preseason.
Tony Pollard, the starting running back with Ezekiel Elliott holding out, stayed an extra series, when the rookie had a 20-yard run to finish with 26 yards on six carries. Alfred Morris, the primary replacement during Elliott’s six-game suspension two years ago, had a 1-yard TD run.
New Orleans 28, (at) N.Y. Jets 13: Drew Brees threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Michael Thomas to cap his only drive in his preseason debut, and New Orleans defeated New York.
Brees didn’t take a snap in the Saints’ first two exhibition games, but Sean Payton gave the 40-year-old quarterback a brief regular-season warmup in this one. And, Brees and the starting offense breezed down the field.
Alvin Kamara had a 25-yard catch on third down, and a 20-yard grab by Thomas two plays later got the Saints (2-1) down to the 23. On third-and-6, Brees found Thomas in the back-right corner of the end zone with a perfectly placed ball over cornerback Tevaughn Campbell’s head for the touchdown.
Brees finished 4-of-6 for 68 yards and was done for the night, along with the rest of the offensive starters, and was replaced by Teddy Bridgewater.
Sam Darnold’s night for the Jets (1-2) lasted quite a bit longer as the second-year quarterback played midway into the second quarter, despite three projected starting offensive lineman — center Ryan Kalil and guards Kelechi Osemele and Brian Winters —sitting out.
Darnold was 8-of-13 for 97 yards and a touchdown pass.
Chicago 27, (at) Indianapolis 17: Chuck Pagano, Andrew Luck’s first coach, returned to Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time since his firing shortly after the 2017 season.
The new Bears defensive coordinator made a splash.
Despite both teams sitting all of their starters including Jacoby Brissett, the Bears used their second defensive touchdown to take the lead for good late in the third quarter.
Trailing 10-0 early in the second quarter, safety Deon Bush ripped the ball out of the air from rookie tight end Hale Hentges got up and scored on a 91-yard interception return. After two field goals from Eddy Pineiro made it 17-13, linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe returned a fumble 22 yards to give the Bears a 20-17 lead.
Chicago closed out the scoring with a 17-yard TD pass from Tyler Bray to Jesper Horsted.
Bray was 11 of 16 with 136 yards and Ryan Nall had two carries for 73 yards.
Chad Kelly led the Colts to all three of their scores and was 16-of-21 with 209 yards and one touchdown — all in the first half. Deon Cain caught three passes for 74 yards, including a 46-yard TD catch.
(At) Minnesota 20, Arizona 9: Dalvin Cook had an 85-yard touchdown run for Minnesota, the highlight of an otherwise rough first half by the first-team offense.
Cook scored early and Mike Boone crossed the goal line late, as the Vikings totaled 190 yards on 29 carries. The ground game was by far the best development of an afternoon when Kirk Cousins (Michigan State) went just 3-for-13 for 35 yards while taking two sacks and Kaare Vedvik missed field goals from 43 and 54 yards.
Rookie Kyler Murray, the first overall pick in the draft to whom new coach Kliff Kingsbury and the Cardinals have turned to lead the reconstruction project, was relatively sharp while going 14 for 21 for 137 yards over the five possessions against a Vikings defense that was almost at full strength. Three of the drives ended with a successful field goal by Zane Gonzalez, a result that surely made the Vikings envious.
Vedvik, who has been given an extended evaluation as both a kicker and a punter, made both of his extra point attempts, at least, while incumbent Dan Bailey took the afternoon off. Matt Wile punted six times for an average of 47.3 yards, leaving no more clarity about the specialists than when the month began.
(At) L.A. Rams 10, Denver 6: Brandon Allen passed for 162 yards, and Jalen Greene caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from John Wolford with 12:38 to play in Los Angeles’ preseason victory over Denver.
Both coaches sat nearly all of their starters for the final NFL preseason game at the 96-year-old Coliseum, and neither team managed a touchdown before Wolford led a 52-yard drive spanning the final two quarters and capped it with a sharp pass to Greene.
Wolford, who went 6-of-12 for 64 yards, is competing for the Rams’ No. 3 quarterback spot with Allen, who had the job last season. Allen went 12-of-19 and mostly looked sharp while Jared Goff and backup Blake Bortles watched from the sideline.
Almost every Rams player expected to make a significant contribution this season skipped this game in keeping with coach Sean McVay’s total disinterest in risking his starters’ health for meaningless exhibitions. McVay also followed the strategy last August, and the Rams matched the NFL’s best regular-season record at 13-3 before reaching their first Super Bowl in 17 years.