Rams Recap: Nightmarish game for Bulger, makeshift line

BY JEFF GORDON
Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
08/23/2004

Online Columnist Jeff Gordon

When a team hasn't won a Super Bowl in a while, it has to chase whatever trophy is out there.

So the Kansas City Chiefs went hard after the Governor's Cup -- again -- on Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium. The result was a one-sided 24-7 preseason victory.

This was the Gunther Cunningham Show. Back in the saddle as Chiefs defensive coordinator, Cunningham threw the (play) book at the Rams and made them look foolish.

The Rams couldn't run or pass the ball in Kansas City. Their makeshift offensive line buckled in the face of constant pressure.

Quarterback Marc Bulger had a nightmarish game. He suffered sacks, threw an interception the Chiefs returned for a touchdown, fumbled the ball and missed a variety of throws he normally makes.

Before the last of the first-teamers got off the field, the Rams trailed 24-0. Twenty-four to nothing!

Adding injury to insult, the Rams lost starting cornerback Travis Fisher to a broken arm. Ouch.

All in all, not a whole lot of positives came from this crummy exhibition of football.

Here's our Rams Recap:


THE GOOD


* It was great to see running back Marshall Faulk back on the field running and catching the football. It's too bad he didn't get any blocks during his brief playing stint.


* The Chiefs tried to pick on cornerback Kevin Garrett with a deep ball early in the second quarter, but he maintained blanket coverage. Later in the quarter, they tried to go over the top of him for a touchdown -- but failed.


* Say, the Rams actually got a sack! Defensive end Leonard Little took down back-up quarterback Todd Collins late in the second quarter. That led to the Chiefs settling for a field goal after reaching the red zone.


* Running back Arlen Harris helped in the first-half damage control, recovering a Bulger fumble with 38 seconds left in the second quarter.


* Fighting for a job, second-year receiver Kevin Curtis made a nifty adjustment on a Chris Chandler throw and caught a 23-yard pass. Then he ran a nice slant pattern to catch a 14-yard pass. He continued catching passes in garbage time.


* Rookie running back Steven Jackson finally got the Rams into the end zone, running in on a nice misdirection play. He continued pounding out decent yardage into garbage time, showing much-desired toughness on inside runs.


* Also in garbage time, Rams defensive linemen Tyoka Jackson, Anthony Hargrove and Brian Howard poured in and hassled Collins.


* Rookie Jeff Smoker got to throw the ball around the field in the fourth quarter, showing a bit of his long-range promise.


THE BAD


* The Rams' makeshift offensive line didn't protect Bulger or create running room for Faulk on the team's first offensive series. Yes, that was Faulk voicing his concern to his teammates and coaches on the sideline.


* The constant Chiefs blitzing disrupted the Rams on their second possession, too. Left tackle Grant Williams was flagged for holding at the end of this tough sequence; the Rams were so hapless that the Chiefs didn't even need to take the penalty.


* Safety Jason Shivers was called for an illegal block penalty, negating the big gain on a razzle-dazzle punt return in the first quarter.


* Bulger almost ook a safety at the end of the first quarter; while Eric Hicks was tossing him into the end zone, Bulger managed to wing a "pass" that somehow went to fullback Chris Massey.


* After taking a delay-of-game penalty in the first quarter, the Rams were about to get another one when Williams drew a false-start flag instead.


* With the offensive line faltering, Bulger wasn't able to establish a passing rhythm with his wideouts. What a mess . . .


* Defensive end Kevin Aldridge negated a Tyoka Jackson sack by making an inadvertent helmet-to-helmet hit on Collins a split second later, drawing a 15-yard penalty. It was that kind of night for the Rams.


* Do the Rams really want Arlen Harris blocking massive defensive ends one-on-one in pass protection schemes?


THE UGLY


* The Chiefs strafed the first-team Rams defense the first chance they got Monday night.

Cornerback Jerametrius Butler almost got an interception and Little almost got a sack. Otherwise, the Rams didn't come close to making a play in that sequence and the Chiefs took a quick 7-0 lead.


* Kansas City pushed that lead to 14-0 in the second quarter as its dominant offensive line mauled the Rams front seven for many big gains on the ground. This time it was Derrick Blaylock doing the running, not Priest Holmes.


* Former Ram Trent Green picked his old friends apart, completing 10 of 12 passes and moving his team to two touchdowns in three possessions.


* On the Chiefs' 12th blitz of the game, the harried Bulger connected with linebacker Shawn Barber for a touchdown pass, er, interception. That put the Rams in a 24-0 hole late in the first half.