KANSAS CITY, Mo. —The third preseason game is usually the one that shows a team's readiness for the regular season. If that holds true for the Chiefs this year, they're headed for trouble.
They were uncompetitive in Friday night's 14-10 loss to St. Louis at Arrowhead Stadium. That's much like how the Chiefs played in their preseason opener against Tampa Bay two weeks ago.
This time was more cause for concern. The starters played most of the first half but the Chiefs couldn't generate much offense until their backups were in the game.
After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter, the Chiefs fought back and trailed by four points in the fourth quarter. With Tyler Palko at quarterback, the Chiefs put together a drive late in the period.
Palko threw two passes totaling 46 yards to Jeremy Horne to put the Chiefs on the St. Louis 3.
Three passes into the end zone were incomplete. On the second down pass, Verran Tucker got his hands on the ball but couldn't hold on.
Instead of try for the go-ahead touchdown, coach Todd Haley had the Chiefs attempt a field goal. Ryan Succop's 21-yard attempt was blocked.
"Three minutes-plus, two timeouts (remaining), I would kick a field goal especially in the regular season,'' Haley said. "I considered (going for the touchdown) more in this situation being the preseason... you can take a few more chances. I was a little disappointed in the sequence of plays once we got down there. We had a dropped ball for what looked like it would have been a touchdown.
"There are portions of the game... where you can afford to be aggressive and then there are areas of the game I think you have to be prudent. To me, there, with three minutes, a field goal makes it 14-13.
"Then you kick off and . . . plan on pinning them, using a couple of time outs and having a short field to win the game.''
The Rams then ran out the clock. The Chiefs forced the Rams into punt formation twice but each time were penalized for neutral zone infractions, giving St. Louis a fresh set of downs.
The Rams scored on each of their first two possessions. Steven Jackson busted up the middle on a 25-yard run on the first play from scrimmage and St. Louis converted on four third-down plays on the opening drive.
The Rams at one point on the drive faced a third and 19. Sam Bradford threw a pass to Brandon Gibson short of the first down marker. Brandon Carr had a chance to make a tackle to stop Gibson short, but failed and Gibson was able to convert.
St. Louis eventually scored on Bradford's six-yard pass to Mike Sims-Walker. The Chiefs went for a fake handoff to Jackson and Sims-Walker was open in the end zone.
After the Chiefs went three plays and punt, Bradford took the Rams on another touchdown drive. He threw 11 yards to Lance Kendricks for the touchdown that put the Rams ahead 14-0.
The Chiefs had a chance to cut their deficit in half early in the second period. Derrick Johnson, who dropped numerous interception chances last year, caught one at the St. Louis 7.
On second down, Jamaal Charles ran seven yards ran for an apparent touchdown, but the play was nullified on a Rodney Hudson holding penalty. Matt Cassel's third down pass intended for Tony Moeaki was incomplete and the Chiefs had to settle for Succop's 26-yard field goal and a 14-3 deficit.
The Chiefs replaced Cassel with Palko for their next possession. But after gaining a couple of first downs, the Chiefs wound up punting.
Cassel returned for the final possession of the half, which began at the Kansas City 43 with 1:43 remaining. The drive began on a promising note when Cassel threw to Jerheme Urban for 14 yards.
But the Chiefs took a delay of game penalty, Cassel threw one short pass and two incompletions and the Chiefs punted.
Ricky Stanzi took over at quarterback for the Chiefs to begin the second half. Stanzi took the Chiefs on their second scoring drive of the preseason late in the third quarter.
He threw five yards to Terrance Copper to allow the Chiefs to convert on a fourth down play. Later, he threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Cody Slate.