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Chiefs win preseason finale amid outpouring of love for Len Dawson

Packers Chiefs Football
Posted at 9:55 PM, Aug 25, 2022

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Patrick Mahomes trotted onto the field for the Kansas City Chiefs’ first offensive snap Thursday in the preseason finale against Green Bay at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

Rather than circle up his teammates, Mahomes faced the line of scrimmage with his teammates facing him in a “choir huddle.”

"That was (Chairman and CEO) Clark (Hunt's) suggestion and the players all bought into it and wanted to do it," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "It's a tribute to a great person, a great player and then all he did in your profession. Very seldom are you a Hall of Famer in two different things. He had a wonderful life and really took advantage of every day he had on earth here."

It was an homage to a famous photograph of late Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson, who died Wednesday, from Super Bowl IV.

Mahomes didn’t take a snap. He and tight end Travis Kelce, who also took the field for the tribute to Dawson, were replaced by Chad Henne and Noah Gray after the play clock expired. Green Bay declined the 5-yard penalty.

“We all wanted to do something,” Mahomes said. “I think (Chairman and CEO) Clark (Hunt) and (Head) Coach (Andy) Reid talked about it, and they came up with the idea. Obviously, we’re praying for his family, but he did so much to impact the Kansas City community and this organization. We wanted to do something, a little token to show our appreciation and I’m glad we got to do it out here at GEHA Field at Arrowhead.”

The Chiefs also observed a moment of silence before the game in honor of Dawson and wore No. 16 decals on the back left side of their helmets.

The celebration of Dawson’s legacy — he led the Chiefs to Super Bowl I and was MVP of the Super Bowl IV victory before going on to a Hall of Fame broadcasting career as well — overshadowed the third and final preseason game.

"We were really excited to do it," center Creed Humphrey said of the choir huddle and other tributes to Dawson. "He did so much for this organization. That was a cool way to give him a tribute."

Kansas City and Green Bay rested most of their key offensive starters, leaving the backups to fight it out in the Chiefs’ 17-10 win.

Tight end Matt Bushman, who entered the game fifth on Kansas City’s depth chart at the position, stole the show — at least until he was injured — with a pair of touchdowns from Shane Buechele.

With the Chiefs trailing 7-3 midway through the fourth quarter, Bushman weaved through a busted coverage and caught a 54-yard touchdown pass.

He added a 2-yard touchdown to break a 10-10 tie in the third quarter before exiting the game.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid said he broke his collarbone and Bushman was spotted in the locker room with his right arm in a sling.

Bushman finished with three catches for a team-high 73 yards, but the night belonged to Dawson.

Buechele wound up 11 of 17 for 166 yards.

More important perhaps was the performance of the running game, which totaled only 115 yards on 43 carries in the first two preseason games — a paltry 2.7 yards per carry.

Isiah Pacheco led the Chiefs in rushing with 10 carries for 52 yards, while veteran Ronald Jones II totaled eight carries for 43 yards.

The Chiefs finished with 102 yards on 27 carries, a 3.8-yard average, against the Packers.

"We were able to get the run game going a little bit, which was something that we needed to do after the last two games," Reid said.

Five years before Mahomes won Super Bowl LIV MVP honors, Dawson, whose No. 16 was retired by Kansas City the year he went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1987), was arguably pro football’s best quarterback.

Dawson led the Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs franchise to three AFL championships (1962, 1966, 1969) as the league’s most-accurate QB. He led the AFL in completion percentage eight times, QB rating six times and touchdown passes four times.

Injury report

In addition to Bushman's broken clavicle, cornerback Trent McDuffie, a rookie first-round pick, is in the concussion protocol.

Defensive end Malik Herring (oblique strain) and running back Jerrion Ealy (knee) also picked up injuries against the Packers, according to Reid.

Reid also provided an update on wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who "banged his head" and missed practice Tuesday.

"He was in the concussion protocol, but he's all right," Reid said.