Back from a broken foot, Johnson ran for a touchdown on the opening drive and Croyle made the most of limited time to lead the Kansas City Chiefs to a 24-20 victory over the Chicago Bears in the preseason opener Thursday night.
Johnson burst through the middle, past Brian Urlacher, for a 7-yard gain on the second play from scrimmage and finished the drive with a 5-yard run. He had 18 yards on eight carries. Croyle passed for 82 yards over two possessions, and Tyler Thigpen threw the winning 27-yard pass to Bobby Sippio with 1:08 left in the game.
Meanwhile, Chicago's Kyle Orton fumbled, Rex Grossman stumbled and neither established himself as the leader in a quarterback race that could extend into the season. Bears head coach Lovie Smith has said he won't rush his decision, and neither gave him reason to reconsider.
Orton started and completed 7 of 10 passes for 56 yards and no interceptions. But the Bears had to settle for a 42-yard field goal by Robbie Gould in the second quarter after Orton dropped the ball while scrambling, resulting in a 9-yard loss.
Grossman came in late in the first half and wasn't much better, going 4-for-8 for 44 yards and a touchdown. He is expected to start at Seattle on Aug. 16.
Booed often at Soldier Field since the Bears drafted him in the first round in 2003, Grossman was greeted with near-silence when he trotted onto the field late in the first half. The jeers came on the opening drive of the second half, when threw an incompletion to finish a drive that went nowhere. He stumbled on the next possession, resulting in a 5-yard loss, but redeemed himself after Rod Wilson intercepted Thigpen, hitting Garrett Wolfe for a 25-yard touchdown that pulled Chicago within 14-10.
A 13-yard touchdown pass from Caleb Hanie (9-of-16, 101 yards) to Brandon Rideau gave the Bears a 17-14 lead with 23 seconds left in the third. After Kansas City's Connor Barth kicked a 37-yard field goal, Gould put the Bears ahead 20-17 with a 37-yarder before Thigpen and Sippio connected on the winning pass.
It was a good night for a Chiefs team coming off a 4-12 season.
Croyle, a third-year pro with no wins as a starter, was 6-of-10 and didn't throw an interception. Damon Huard, who replaced him on the Chiefs' third series, made a case for the backup job while going 6-for-8 for 77 yards and a touchdown. Thigpen was 8-of-16 for 113 yards.
But the most encouraging sight for the Chiefs was having Johnson in uniform.
He missed most of training camp last year in a contract dispute after rushing for more than 1,700 yards in 2005 and 2006. Just when it appeared he was hitting his stride, his season ended.
Johnson scored two touchdowns against Green Bay on Oct. 4 before a Packers linebacker jumped onto his back and rode him to the Arrowhead Stadium turf late in the fourth quarter. Johnson hobbled to the sideline with a broken right foot, and the Chiefs ended the season on a nine-game losing streak.
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