KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — For the Kansas City Chiefs, getting a victory was more of a relief than a win.
The Chiefs scored touchdowns on their first two possessions Friday night and beat Arizona 27-17 in their preseason opener.
But most importantly to fans and coaches, Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry and Tony Moeaki seemed to have no trouble in their first action since ACL surgeries put all three key players on the shelf before the 2011 season barely got started.
Charles, the NFL’s second-leading rusher in 2010, took a hit on his left knee by cornerback Michael Adams on his first carry. No problem. He went on to carry three times for 12 yards and catch a pass for 11 more.
“That was a relief,” coach Romeo Crennel said. “For him to take that hit, I think that helped clear his mind about where he is with that injury. Until you get hit on it, you just never know. You’re always wondering about it. Now he’s been hit in a game and I think that will help him going forward.”
Charles insisted he “wasn’t even paying attention” to the hit to the left knee.
“It was good just to be on the field again and running the ball again in a real live game,” he said. “It was great to be out there with my teammates.”
Did he feel like the old Jamaal, the one whose 6.4 yards per carry in 2010 was just under Jim Brown’s NFL record?
“I don’t know. You tell me,” he said, grinning. “I feel fresh. My body feels real good. I feel ready to go.”
Matt Cassel found Peyton Hillis on a 11-yard scoring pass to cap the first possession, marking the second straight game the defense for Arizona (tied No. 23 in the AP Pro 32) yielded a touchdown on the opening drive.
In their second possession, the Chiefs (No. 18) went 72 yards in just four plays, capped by Shaun Draughn’s 4-yard run.
“Coach Crennel’s been preaching all camp long to get off to a good start,” said Cassel, who showed no ill effects from the hand injury that kept him out of most of the second half of last season.
“I think that’s exactly what we accomplished tonight. I think that gives us momentum going forward. But we know it’s only the first preseason game. I was proud of how everybody came out and had a good start.”
The Cardinals will be glad to get back to Arizona. Counting their loss to New Orleans in the Hall of Fame game, they’re 0-2 since they last slept in their own beds.
“It’s disappointing that we didn’t play better,” Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “I don’t accept that. I just don’t think it was a good effort by our team and I’m glad we’ve got three (preseason) games left to clear that up.”
Little was decided in the battle between John Skelton and Kevin Kolb for Arizona’s starting quarterback job.
But William Powell, a second-year running back from Kansas State, had a big game, rushing for 92 yards on nine carries. He scored the Cardinals’ first touchdown on a 2-yard run on fourth down after going for 67 yards a moment before.
Skelton started and was 3 for 6 for 35 yards and one interception. Kolb, who started in the Hall of Fame game, came off the bench and was 1 for 5 for 21 yards.
The Cardinals, who spent the week practicing at the Chiefs’ camp in nearby St. Joseph, Mo., dropped to 0-2 in the preseason, while the Chiefs matched their preseason victory total for the past three seasons.
“I thought John looked comfortable,” Whisenhunt said. “He made a mistake when he called a run the wrong way. But he made some good, accurate throws. Kevin looked good early, but we continue to have protection issues when he’s in there. I thought they did OK.”