The Chiefs were on the road in a noisy environment and needed a victory to clinch the AFC West title. They were also playing against a veteran quarterback in Russell Wilson.
Playing the rookies, though, says a lot about Chiefs' desperation to repair their woeful defense. They turned to Ward as a starter in place of injured Kendall Fuller, and Smith as the third corner in place of the benched Orlando Scandrick.
"I played some young guys tonight that I wanted to just get a look at, that I thought could help us a bit," coach Andy Reid said. "They had some learning experiences, but they battled through.
"It was a change-up. Give them an opportunity there. They've got good speed and ability. I thought it would be worth a shot. They did some good things."
Reid can't be blamed for the effort to improve defensively. The Chiefs are 31st in yards allowed and 28th in points allowed.
Ward and Smith didn't seem to help much in Kansas City's 38-31 loss. Wilson threw for 271 yards, many in the direction of Ward or Smith. He also had three touchdown passes.
"I'm not going to compare," Reid said, when asked if either player was an improvement over Scandrick. "I thought Ward did some decent things in that position.
"We were off by a hair on some of these. We were right there. ... Those are young guys that are in those positions doing that. We were in position. We just have to make a play."
Ward, an undrafted free agent with the Cowboys in training camp, was acquired by the Chiefs in a trade at the end of the preseason. Smith is the Chiefs' sixth-round draft pick. Neither played much except on special teams before Sunday night's game.
"I think I played decent but not good enough," Ward said. "It was my first game, my debut at cornerback on defense. I was kind of nervous, but you can't be nervous in the NFL. [Wilson and some of the Seahawks] have been to a couple of Super Bowls. They're experienced and I'm kind of inexperienced. I've just got to grow within this next week, be ready for the Raiders when they call my number again."
Fuller could return for next Sunday's game against Oakland at Arrowhead Stadium. Reid wouldn't say whether the Chiefs would stick with Ward, Smith or both in that game.