Chiefs’ defense dominates Rams
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — NFL pass rushers are a lot like sharks. That was the attitude of the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense in the second half of the team’s 34-7 beating of the St. Louis Rams on Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium.
With a second-half lead, a Rams offensive line losing starters in every quarter and inexperienced quarterback Austin Davis in the St. Louis pocket, the Kansas City defense knocked him down seven times, allowed only 116 net passing yards and dominated the game as the Chiefs pushed their record to 4-3 on the season.
“The defense absolutely dominated the game,” Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said of his defensive teammates. “To have a defense play like those guys did today is special. They really dominated and set the tone.”
Setting the tone for the Chiefs defense was outside linebacker Justin Houston. He added three sacks to the seven he carried into the game to give him 10 in seven games. That’s halfway to the franchise sack record set by Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Thomas in 1990.
“This was a game where those sacks came from the whole defense,” Houston said. “There was great coverage from the secondary and linebackers and that forced the quarterback to hold the ball and that allowed us to get to him.”
While the defense stifled the Rams’ offense, the Chiefs were also getting major contributions from the other parts of their game. Backup running back Knile Davis returned the second-half kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown and Cairo Santos added two field goals, including a career-long 53-yard kick. Offensively, they had three rushing touchdowns, including two from running back Jamaal Charles and Smith completed 24 of 28 passes for 226 yards, connecting six times with wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. In all, the Chiefs scored 34 unanswered points.
The Rams generated only 200 yards of offense, falling to 2-5 and they left Kansas City with a roster decimated by injuries. By the fourth quarter, only one offensive line starter was in the same position at which he opened the game and an injury-riddled secondary was minus the two safeties that started the game.
It was a frustrating loss for a Rams team that beat the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks just a week ago.
“To beat a Super Bowl champion and then come in and perform like we did today is not what we want,” said defensive end Robert Quinn.
Austin Davis led the Rams to a touchdown on the first possession of the game, rolling 65 yards on six plays capped by a 1-yard touchdown toss to tight end Lance Kendricks. The key play in the drive was a 43-yard pass play from Davis to wide receiver Kenny Britt on third-and-1.
“We started fast but we didn’t finish,” said Rams head coach Jeff Fisher. “This team is going to have to learn to play consistent through 60 minutes.”
The Chiefs tied the score with a 10-play, 53-yard drive that lapped over the end of the first quarter and start of the second. A 17-yard pass from Smith to tight end Travis Kelce took the ball to the one-yard line, setting up the score as Charles blasted through the left side.
St. Louis had a great opportunity in the second quarter when Charles fumbled and the ball was recovered by Rams defensive end William Hayes at the Chiefs 8-yard line. Two running plays netted St. Louis two yards and on third-and-goal, Davis was sacked by Chiefs safety Ron Parker for a 14-yard loss.
That set up a 38-yard field goal attempt for Greg Zuerlein, but he pushed his kick wide right and the Chiefs escaped.
“That was the play of the game,” Smith said. “To give them that opportunity and then the defense goes out and stones them. That established the tone for the rest of the game.”
Santos hit his 53-yard field goal with one second left in the first half, only after overcoming a false start penalty and consecutive sacks by Quinn to get those three points on the board and carry a 10-7 lead to intermission.
Knile Davis, who had a 108-yard return last season against Denver, sparked Kansas City’s second-half surge with the Chiefs’ first return score of the season. Santos added a 28-yard field goal near the mid-point of the third quarter and the Kansas City lead grew to 20-7.
A pair of fourth-quarter touchdown runs — 36 yards by Charles and 3 yards from Davis — capped the scoring. Houston and his mates continued to swarm and picked up three more sacks to give them seven on the afternoon.
“You can see what the conditions are,” Houston said. “They were forced to pass and any time that happens, as a pass rusher you are trying to take advantage. I really didn’t pay attention to their problems (injuries). I just kept working to get some pressure on him.”
NOTES: Injuries impacted the Rams, who lost WR Brian Quick (arm) and RG Rodger Saffold (shoulder) in the first half. In the second half, C Scott Wells (elbow), LT Jake Long (knee), S Cody Davis (concussion) and S Rodney McLeod (knee) all left with injuries. ... Late in the third quarter only RT Joe Barksdale was playing the same position in the St. Louis starting offensive line. ... Chiefs starting CB Jamell Fleming was lost in the first half with a hamstring injury. ... Chiefs S Ron Parker had a first-quarter interception of Rams QB Austin Davis. ... The normally sure-handed Chiefs had two fumbles in the first half. QB Alex Smith lost a ball that rolled out of bounds and RB Jamaal Charles fumbled. ... The teams were playing for the Governor’s Cup, awarded since 1968 to the winner of any game between the Chiefs and the NFL team playing across the state in St. Louis — first the Cardinals and since 1995 with the Rams. It was the 45th preseason or regular-season meeting and the Chiefs now hold a 27-16-2 edge.