From St. Louis, Missouri
The first thing that Missouri Governor Jay Nixon should do Friday morning upon his return to the state capitol in Jefferson City is call Washington.
Nixon should immediately appeal for emergency relief funds from the federal government pinpointed to help the disaster that is professional football in the state of Missouri.
A major stinker was Thursday night’s game between the Rams and Chiefs at the Edward Jones Dome. St. Louis grabbed the 17-9 victory to finish the pre-season with a 3-1 record. That may be more games than the Rams win during the regular season. First-year head coach Steve Spagnuolo has a struggling team with few offensive weapons, a banged up quarterback and a defense that’s working hard.
Sound familiar? The Chiefs earned the defeat and they finished Todd Haley’s first pre-season at 0-4.
It also makes them 8-39 in games played in the calendar years 2007-08-09.
“I talked to my father this morning,” Todd Haley said. “He knows the numbers better than I but he told me a lot of good teams haven’t won a pre-season game.”
That’s true. But then, the Chiefs are not a good team. They are not even close at this point.
There was some good play out of the first-team defense, as they gave up one TD and did a great job against the run. The Rams kept RB Steve Jackson under wraps, but in the first half they managed just 40 yards on 15 carries and in the game they were able to push those numbers only to 76 yards on 32 carries.
“There were some encouraging things out there today, most specifically the defense,” Haley said. “They did an excellent job. We gave up one touchdown and early in the game, they played hard, they got their hands on the football. I thought we were very good against the run game.”
In some ways it seemed the Chiefs offense took well to the change of coordinators with Haley calling the plays from the sidelines. They got big “chunks” of yardage, with four different plays that went for 40 yards or more and two of those were in the running game. TE Sean Ryan had a 40-yard catch, WR Ashley Lelie a 43-yard grab, RB Larry Johnson had a 41-yard run and RB Dantrell Savage ran 70 yards.
But there were no touchdowns. Actually, there was a touchdown but it was nullified by a holding call. It was the only time the Chiefs actually got close to planting their flag in the end zone.
“You can’t go zero for seven on third down in the first half, especially when some of those are in the red zone,” said Haley. “You can’t have penalties in the red zone; we had a touchdown called back because of a holding call there. We can’t have sacks in the red zone. Kicking field goals instead of scoring touchdowns, that usually gets you beat.”
While the running game is showing signs of life, the passing game continues to be ineffective and unproductive. Brodie Croyle started for the injured Matt Cassel and was erratic. Tyler Thigpen relieved him in the second half and was awful. Matt Gutierrez moped up and completed 50 percent of his passes. On this very bad night for Chiefs quarterbacks, that was actually very impressive
The Chiefs offense had a different play caller for this game, but they had the same old problems of not being able to get the ball into the end zone. In the first half, they had three very good opportunities thanks to the big plays of Ryan, Johnson and Savage, yet they had to settle for three FGs on the scoreboard.
Only once did a play actually reach the end zone, as Savage followed up Ryan’s 40-yard catch and Johnson’s 41-yard run with what looked like a touchdown on a sweep right. But the play was nullified when Ryan was called for holding. On the next play the Chiefs were flagged for delay of game. Croyle threw a pair of passes into the end zone for WR Dwayne Bowe, but they were off the mark.
Eventually, Succop kicked a 31-yard FG that gave the Chiefs a 3-0 lead.
In the first quarter, the Chiefs No. 1 defense got after Rams QB Kyle Boller and did not allow RB Samkon Gado much in the way of running room. In the two possessions where he ran the St. Louis offense, Boller was sacked by ILB Corey Mays and OLB Tamba Hali. Gado carried six times for 17 yards before leaving the game late in the first quarter with a limp. No injury information was provided by the Rams.
The Chiefs offense kept getting backed up in the battle for field position by Rams punter Donnie Jones. Their second possession of the second period started at their two-yard line. But then Savage hit them with the longest run the red and gold has seen for some time from a running back. On pure second and third effort, Savage broke through the right side of the Rams defense and took off down the right sideline. Savage had gone 70 yards before CB Bradley Fletcher pulled him down. Give credit to WR Mark Bradley for a big block that sprung Savage, as he picked off S David Roach.
While pre-season records for the Chiefs were not handy at the Dome, but the last regular season run that was longer was by WR Derrick Alexander who went 82 yards on an end-around against Pittsburgh in 1999. The last regular season run by a running back that was longer was Joe Delaney, who had an 82-yard run in the 1981 season.
The play started at the Chiefs two-yard line and Savage was tackled at the St. Louis 28. The offense got a first down and moved the ball to the 15-yard line. The next three plays were a one-yard run, an incomplete pass to Bowe in the end zone and on third down Croyle was sacked. Succop came on and nailed a 40-yard FG and the Chiefs led 6-0.
Brock Berlin then directed the St. Louis offense on a 15-play, 85-yard drive that ate up 7 minutes and 29 seconds of the second quarter clock. The score came on a six-yard TD throw to TE Daniel Fells at the goal line and he backed in against the Chiefs defenders for the score. Josh Brown’s PAT gave the Rams a 7-6 lead.
The Chiefs had one more offensive chance in the first half, when S DaJuan Morgan made a great diving interception of a Berlin pass that gave Kansas City the ball at the St. Louis 23-yard line. Croyle threw incomplete to WR Quinten Lawrence down the middle, Savage gained one-yard on the right side and then a scrambling Croyle got six yards on a 3rd-and-9 play. Succop drilled the 34-yard FG and the Chiefs held a 9-7 lead at half-time.
At the half, the Chiefs had 208 yards in offense, compared to just 143 yards for the Rams.
St. Louis finished the game with just 252 yards, but they scored a touchdown and got another TD from their defense.
That came near the end of the third quarter when Thigpen’s pass was picked off by CB Quincy Butler and was returned 28 yards for a “pick-six” touchdown. The PAT kick gave the Rams a 14-9 lead that they never lost.
Thigpen’s next two possessions went three plays and out with eight yards of offense and then three plays for one yard and another interception. As he was about to be tackled, Thigpen threw one up and CB Justin King ended up with the football.
Later in the fourth quarter, Rams K Josh Brown added a 37-yard FG and that was the final score, 17-9.