The aura of invincibility the Chiefs seem to build around them last week was stripped away Saturday night and it took the previously punchless St. Louis Rams very little time to do it.
The Chiefs allowed two touchdowns and committed a turnover in the first five minutes of their preseason game. They fought back briefly but a disastrous start to the second half, one that might have ended Ricky Stanzi’s bid to become the No. 2 quarterback, sealed the verdict, a 31-17 defeat.
“Not enough focus, not enough concentration on a week when we were breaking camp and all of those kinds of things,’’ coach Romeo Crennel said. “That just showed we’re not mature enough yet. We have to play a lot better if we’re going to have a chance to win in the NFL.’’
The Chiefs lost free safety Kendrick Lewis in the second quarter with an injury to the same shoulder that he had surgically repaired after last season. Lewis left the field after one play in obvious pain and tossed his helmet to the ground in anger once he reached the sideline.
He had the arm in a sling in the locker room after the game.
With the loss, the Chiefs gave back a lot of what they appeared to gain with last week’s impressive win against Arizona. The Rams were 38-3 losers to Indianapolis in their preseason opener but attacked the Chiefs from the opening snap.
St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford passed 35 yards to Danny Amendola on that first play. Running back Steven Jackson ran up the middle for 18 yards on the next play.
Two plays later, Bradford passed 23 yards to Lance Kendricks for a touchdown and less than two minutes into the game the Chiefs trailed 7-0. They never recovered.
“They got us on our heels a little bit right at the start,’’ linebacker Derrick Johnson said. “Good play-calling on their part. A little adversity hit, which is good for us after we played so (well) last week.
“It’s not time to panic, of course. We’ve got to go back to work this week. Coach Crennel stressed that right off.’’
The situation would get worse quickly. On Kansas City’s second play, Jon Baldwin caught a short pass from Matt Cassel and then fumbled. St. Louis recovered at the Chiefs’ 31.
The Rams took five plays to score a touchdown, this one on Bradford’s eight-yard pass to Amendola, who beat Javier Arenas in the corner of the end zone. The touchdown came on a fourth-down play.
The Rams had 151 yards in the first period against the starting Chiefs defense.
“We’ve just got to be ready to play, make sure we come out ready to go to work every time we step on the field,’’ strong safety Eric Berry said. “That’s probably the biggest thing.’’
Later in the first half, the Chiefs started an offensive drive like the ones they used to build a 14-0 lead against the Cardinals last week. Cassel threw two passes of 17 yards each to one tight end, Kevin Boss, and 19 yards to another, Jake O’Connell.
The drive ended with a one-yard touchdown run by Peyton Hillis and the Chiefs trailed 14-7.
“The offense tried to come on and uplift us a little bit,’’ Crennel said. “But then we . . . couldn’t stop anybody on defense and that opened up the drain.
“It was adverse conditions for us. I got a little hope when the offense started to score. I thought if they could spark then the defense could spark. But it didn’t work out that way.’’
The Chiefs trailed 17-10 to start the third quarter and Stanzi entered the game at quarterback. It may have been Stanzi’s final chance to beat Brady Quinn for the top backup spot to Cassel and things went sour immediately.
He threw his first pass late to Terrance Copper. It was deflected and intercepted by Matt Conrath.
Stanzi later was sacked four times and lost a fumble on a fourth-down play as he was being dragged down by Justin Cole.
Meanwhile, the Rams used favorable field position to score two more touchdowns and take a 31-10 lead.
Quinn entered the game and may have wrapped up the backup quarterback spot when he threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Horne to make the score 31-17 with 3:51 remaining.
|Total Net Yards||271||348|
|Time of Possession||27:33||32:27|