The Bears' decision not to play most of their starters in Saturday's preseason game against the Chiefs gave their reserves a chance to shine—and several took advantage of the opportunity.
Backup quarterback Chase Daniel engineered touchdown drives of 60, 77 and 91 yards on the offense's first three possessions, staking the Bears to a 21-10 second-quarter lead en route to a 27-20 victory at Soldier Field.
"I was really proud of our guys," said coach Matt Nagy. "I think they took what we did in practice this week and transferred it to the field. When you have that as a coach and you see where we're at depth-wise with some of our players, that's special.
"From start to finish, I thought they played well. The biggest thing is they executed. I didn't think it was sloppy. I thought our guys stayed away from the penalties and they were really in all three phases pretty decent against a good Chiefs football team."
On those first three drives, Daniel completed 11 of 13 passes for 178 yards to seven different receivers with two touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 passer rating. Playing only the first half, the veteran quarterback connected on 15 of 18 passes for 198 yards and a 149.5 rating. He also rushed for 47 yards on six carries, including a 28-yard scamper.
"If we get some first downs and get rolling, we can get into a little rhythm and I thought that's what we did today on the first three drives especially," Daniel said. "We just got into a rhythm and felt comfortable."
Rookie receiver Javon Wims also made the most of his expanded playing time, catching four passes for a game-high 114 yards. The seventh-round draft pick from Georgia turned a short pass into a 54-yard gain and dove to make a sensational 7-yard touchdown catch, tapping both feet just inside the end line.
"We checked to a little corner route there, saw something in the coverage that we liked [with] Javon on one of their corners," Daniel said. "He ran a great route. The catch was definitely the best part. The throw was not very good."
Receiver Kevin White excelled as well, catching a 29-yard TD pass from Daniel. The veteran receiver beat cornerback Orlando Scandrick badly on the play with a nifty double move.
"He was wide open," Daniel said. "I just tried to shot-put it out there. We had a little double move on. We got man coverage. We got exactly what we wanted. It was a great play call. I thought [White] did a really good job. He really sold it, really sold a curl at the [first-down] sticks and did a really good job not getting pressed coming out of it."
Running back Benny Cunningham stood out early, rushing for 22 yards on seven carries and catching three passes for 29 yards in the first half. On a 13-yard touchdown run that gave the Bears a 7-0 lead on the game's opening possession, Cunningham bounced outside and picked up excellent blocks from left tackle Bradley Sowell and left guard Eric Kush.
After allowing a touchdown and field goal on the Chiefs' first two drives, the Bears defense held Kansas City scoreless on its next five possessions stretching into the fourth quarter.
Playing into the third period, Chiefs starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes completed 18 of 24 passes for 196 yards with 1 TD and a 112.5 passer rating.
After a scoreless third quarter, Kansas City closed the gap to 24-13 on Harrison Butker's 29-yard field goal early in the fourth period.
Cody Parkey answered with his second field goal of the game without a miss, a 19-yard chip shot that gave the Bears a 27-13 lead with 3:05 left in the game.
The Chiefs cut the deficit to 27-20 on Chase Litton's 55-yard TD pass to Marcus Kemp with 2:40 to play, but the Bears hung on to even their preseason record at 2-2.