Kansas City, Mo. The closest that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Chiefs counterpart Alex Smith got to the field Thursday night was the sideline, both teams electing to let their backups play things out in their final preseason game.
Third-string quarterback Tyler Bray took advantage of the opportunity.
The undrafted rookie from Tennessee threw for 169 yards and three touchdowns, leading Kansas City to a 30-8 victory over Green Bay as both teams rested their starters for the regular season.
“Tyler did a nice job for a young guy stepping in,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “Most series he put us in some form of a scoring position, whether it was a field goal or a touchdown.”
Bray hit Junior Hemingway for his first touchdown pass late in the first half, and connected with Josh Bellamy and Frankie Hammond Jr. for TDs in the second half, outplaying Chiefs backup QB Chase Daniel and Packers backups Vince Young and B.J. Coleman.
“I’m so proud of him, man. He finally got a chance to play and show what he’s got,” Daniel said. “We all knew what he could do physically, but mentally he was on point. He played a heck of a game and I’m so proud of him.”
Young continues to struggle in the Packers offense. He was just 14 of 30 for 144 yards while fumbling twice, losing one of them. Coleman was just 2 of 7 for 19 yards and an interception.
“I could have made some better throws,” Young said, “but overall I feel like with the reps and the game time, there are things I can go back and watch on film and it’s definitely going to help.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said his priority was to get tape of his backups before Saturday’s deadline to trim the roster to 53 players, and in that respect he got what he wanted.
“It’s something we’ll have to take a hard look at,” McCarthy said, when asked to grade Young’s performance. “There was a lot of communication going on, which is normal when you get into this fourth game. Pass protection, run blocking, things weren’t very clean for us.”
That could be expected with most of the big names wearing baseball caps and floppy hats.
In the race to be the No. 3 running back in Kansas City, second-year pro Cyrus Gray appeared to move ahead of veteran Shaun Draughn with a solid performance. Gray gouged the Packers several times in the first half and finished with 73 yards on 13 carries.
Hemingway likely locked up his spot on the Chiefs’ roster after the former seventh-round pick out of Michigan caught his second touchdown pass of the preseason. And if it wasn’t his work that solidified his job, it may have been an injury to fellow wide receiver Devon Wylie.
The Chiefs’ fourth-round pick two years ago, Wylie left in the first half with a hamstring injury and never returned. Wylie missed most of last season with a similar injury.
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who has missed time in practice with a left knee, hobbled off in the first half with another knee injury. The Chiefs were already thin at the position after Tony Moeaki fractured his shoulder in last week’s game against Pittsburgh.
Reid said that Kelce will have an MRI exam Friday but “he should be OK.”
In a bit of positive injury news for Green Bay, cornerback Tramon Williams started the game after missing practice with a bruised knee. He picked off Daniel on the game’s first play as the Packers’ starters spent a series fine-tuning for their opener at San Francisco.
Their No. 1 offense — sans Rodgers, of course — played one series but couldn’t move the ball behind Young, eventually settling for Crosby’s 48-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead.
Ryan Succop’s two field goals and another by Crosby left the score 6-6 when the Chiefs got the ball with less than 2 minutes remaining in the first half. Bray guided them 50 yards in seven plays, and his pass to Hemingway for a touchdown gave Kansas City a 13-6 lead at the break.
The Chiefs put the game away on Bellamy’s touchdown grab in the third quarter.
“We played great as a team so I think everyone’s confidence is up right now,” Bray said. “It was good to get some reps because I’m probably not going to get many down the road here.”
Notes: Packers LB Sam Barrington sacked Bray for a safety in the third quarter. ... Packers S Chris Banjo had to be helped off the field in the first half. He returned and had a sack in the fourth quarter. ... Crosby is 6 of 6 on field goals in the preseason after having to fight for his job. ... Draughn had four carries for 18 yards for Kansas City. Daniel was 4 of 8 for 27 yards.