Defense Controls Jackson, Bradford

From the Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis

It’s the same goal every week at the top of the Chiefs defensive game-plan – stop the opponent’s running game.

The players knew it would be emphasized even more against the St. Louis Rams. One reason was the abilities of Rams RB Steve Jackson, one of the most under-rated and best backs in the league. Another, and maybe the bigger reason was rebounding as a defense from last week’s horrible showing against San Diego, when they allowed 207 rushing yards to the Chargers.

“We wanted to put pressure on the quarterback,” said DE Wallace Gilberry. “But the best way to get that done is to stop the running game. That’s what allows you to effect the quarterback.”

Gilberry should know – he picked up three sacks of Sam Bradford on Sunday, as the Chiefs went after the rookie quarterback with a bunch of different rush packages.

But the key was stopping Jackson, and they got that done. The Rams back had 67 yards on 19 carries, a 3.5-yard per carry average. The high point for the defense was the fact that Jackson’s longest run was just eight yards.

“Our defense did a terrific job,” said head coach Todd Haley. “They knew they had to stop No. 39 (Jackson) and keep him out of the double-digit runs, which we did. Our guys did that. I challenged the secondary before today’s game and they did a terrific job. We played a lot of man (coverage) and our guys fought it out, competed, knocked the ball out and didn’t give up the big play.”

To stop Jackson, the Chiefs played to the Rams running game. They got some help from their offense, since they got the lead and eventually St. Louis was forced to use the passing game. That limited Jackson to his 19 carries, with only five of those going for five yards or more. Five carries went for two yards or less.

“Steven Jackson is a heck of a running back and we had to corral him,” said CB Brandon Carr. “We had to wrap him up and play team defense and cover out there on the island.”

ILB Derrick Johnson had a big game, with 13 tackles as he became the primary man to bring Jackson down. No other defensive player for the Chiefs had more than four tackles. But in the end 14 different defenders were credited with tackles.

Johnson had seven tackles of Jackson in the running game and he had three more on him as a receiver.

“We had a lot of miscues,” Jackson said of the Rams offense. “There were a lot of things that were just fundamental football. We made a lot of mistakes out there. We just didn’t play good football. They didn’t do anything as far as the running game goes. They got after us in the passing, but we didn’t play good football.”

The ability to keep Jackson under wraps allowed the Chiefs to get a pass rush going against Bradford. Early in the game, they went after him with a lot of different looks and pass rushes, sending three, four, five and six rushers.

“We were able to keep No. 8 uncomfortable with some pressure,” Haley said of Bradford. “That was another key for us. After that first drive they settled down and played good defense.”

That allowed Gilberry to have the best pass rushing day of his young career. He now has seven sacks and along with Tamba Hali’s 11, that’s the most any two Chiefs defenders have had together since Hali and Jared Allen had 22 sacks in the 2007 season.

“Coach Romeo (Crennel) just knows how to get us in the right positions for games like this one,” Gilberry said. “I’ve got to give him all the credit. We were well prepared for what they did and since we controlled their running game, they weren’t able to sustain anything.”

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