Matt Cassel made a winning return to Arrowhead Stadium, even if it was just a preseason game.
The quarterback who was booed, benched and eventually released two years ago by the Chiefs, threw for 152 yards and a touchdown Saturday night, leading the Minnesota Vikings to a 30-12 win over a scuffling Kansas City team dealing with a rash of injuries and suspensions.
Cassel also threw an interception before turning things over to Teddy Bridgewater in the third quarter. The rookie quarterback, who is still challenging for the starting job, threw a pair of touchdown passes to tight end Allen Reisner less than 2 minutes apart to seal the win.
The Chiefs’ Alex Smith was just 14 of 24 for 124 yards with two red-zone interceptions, and the Chiefs’ first-team offense only managed a 21-yard field goal by Cairo Santos.
They still have not scored a touchdown in 16 possessions this preseason.
While the third preseason game is typically a dress rehearsal for the regular season, both teams sat plenty of star power due to injuries and personal reasons.
Running back Adrian Peterson, excused from practice this week, dressed for the Vikings but did not play. Chiefs counterpart Jamaal Charles, dealing with a foot injury, also dressed after returning to practice Thursday, but did not see the field.
Other noteworthy players missing included Vikings safety Robert Blanton (hamstring) and defensive tackle Linval Joseph (calf), and Chiefs safety Eric Berry (heel), wide receivers Dwayne Bowe (quad) and Junior Hemingway (hip), and linebacker Joe Mays (wrist surgery).
All the missing pieces allowed several players trying to secure starting jobs and roster spots a chance to shine with the first round of cuts due Tuesday.
Jeff Linkenbach and Ricky Henry alternated at left guard for the Chiefs in place of Jeff Allen, who shifted to right tackle. He took the place of Donald Stephenson, who will be suspended for the first four games of the regular season for violating the league’s drug policy.
Wide receiver Frankie Hammond also made a couple of nice catches for Kansas City. He started in place of Bowe, suspended for the season opener after his arrest last November.
Matt Asiata, starting in Peterson’s place, ran for 48 yards on 11 carries.
Not everything went perfectly for Cassel after his long touchdown pass to Patterson gave the Vikings a 7-0 lead. He was sacked on third down on their ensuing possession, and was stripped of the ball by the Chiefs’ Jaye Howard for a safety later in the first quarter.
The Chiefs moved the ball well in the first half, but two promising drives ended when Smith was intercepted by Captain Munnerlyn in the end zone and by Chad Greenway near the goal line.
Blair Walsh kicked a pair of field goals to extend Minnesota’s lead to 13-5, and both teams pulled their starters in the third quarter. Bridgewater and Reisner connected twice in a span of 1 minute, 44 seconds later in the quarter to put things out of reach.
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Cassel leaves with lead, Bridgewater seals it
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