Offense moves ball against Rams reserves in preseason finale
Before Chiefs fans think their team is suddenly an offensive juggernaut, consider that the St. Louis Rams played their starters for just one series Thursday night.
But the Kansas City Chiefs will take anything positive these days.
Led by a strong rushing game mostly against the St. Louis defensive reserves, the Chiefs built a 21-3 lead and held on to win the Governor’s Cup with a 21-17 preseason victory in front of a sparse, rain-soaked crowd at Arrowhead Stadium.
Coming off a 24-0 loss to Miami last Saturday, coach Herm Edwards was looking for good news Thursday – especially after lightning and a deluge of rain delayed the game for about an hour and a half.
“You wonder as a coach what’s going to happen when you have a delay like that, especially in the last preseason game,” Edwards said. “These guys were loose for that hour. They had the music going. I think it loosened us up, I really do, because these guys are trying so hard to do the right thing. We didn’t play well last week; we played a little tight early. But offensively I thought we did some good things tonight. Defensively we did some pretty good things.”
Chiefs quarterback Brodie Croyle, under fire this week for his shaky play in the loss to Miami, wasn’t asked to do much in preparation for next week’s season opener against New England. Croyle threw only four times, completing three – two on outlet routes to fullback Mike Cox.
Instead, Croyle handed off to backup running backs Kolby Smith and Jamaal Charles, as the pair combined for 81 yards on just 12 carries in just over a quarter of play.
“It was good for us to go down and score. We needed that after last week,” Croyle said. “We’re not a bad offense. We weren’t down on ourselves. We gave ourselves a little bit of confidence. Hopefully we got things going in the right direction.”
The running game did. Smith averaged 6.3 yards on six carries and scored the first two touchdowns on runs of 14 and 4 yards. Charles averaged 7.2 yards on his six carries.
The Chiefs – with the exception of Larry Johnson and Tony Gonzalez – played their starters for much of the first half while Rams coach Scott Linehan chose to sit his early. Many of the Rams’ starters weren’t even starters as regulars like running back Steven Jackson, quarterback Marc Bulger and receiver Torry Holt never saw the field.
“It was just good to get successful drives going, going into next week,” guard Brian Waters said. “We can’t run around thinking we’re king of the world because we beat St. Louis, but no matter who is in front of you, you want to do the best you can.
“We wanted to be successful on offense, put together some drives and convert in the red zone, and we did that.”
The Chiefs capitalized on a Rams fumble and a personal foul penalty for their final score, an 11-yard TD pass from Damon Huard to Bobby Sippio.
The final two-plus quarters were a chance to make a final impression for rookies and free agents who face a 22-man cut in the next few days.
Edwards said he had a good idea who would make the team now.
“The only tough thing cutting the final 22 is the kicking situation,” he said of the battle between rookie Connor Barth and veteran Nick Novak. “But we scored touchdowns tonight and didn’t kick field goals – and that’s good – but it makes it hard to decide.”