ST. LOUIS (AP) -- After backing up pregame braggadocio about
dealing out the hits rather than taking them, Larry Johnson had a
lot more to say.
Johnson rushed for 172 yards, becoming the second straight
running back to punish the St. Louis Rams' defense in the Kansas
City Chiefs' 31-17 victory on Sunday. It wasn't nearly enough.
"I'm a little disappointed because I feel we did leave 200
yards of rushing on that field," Johnson said. "The way we were
going out there and just pushing them backward and shakings things
up, we should have done even more."
The Chiefs defense forced three early turnovers against a team
that emphasizes ball security, and Kansas City capitalized en route
to a 17-point cushion.
"You can't put Kansas City in a short field like that," Rams
offensive tackle Orlando Pace said. "It makes it tough on us and a
lot easier on those guys."
Two touchdown catches by Tony Gonzalez, who broke Otis Taylor's
franchise career mark, helped Kansas City (5-3) raise its record to
an NFL-best 21-5 in interconference play since 1995. Damon Huard
was mistake-free again, going 10-for-15 for 148 yards and three
Jackson had 219 yards in all for the Rams (4-4), who have lost
three in a row to negate a fast start under new coach Scott
Linehan. Jackson had 86 yards on 19 carries with a 1-yard
touchdown, and caught a career-best 13 passes for 133 yards, but
also had one of the Rams' three lost fumbles.
It was the first 100-yard receiving game by a Rams running back
since Marshall Faulk in 2001.
Johnson had 172 yards on 27 carries, including a 1-yard score
for his fifth touchdown in two weeks; a 45-yarder when the Chiefs
were backed up in the second quarter; and a 16-yarder that set up a
field goal. He secured his fifth 100-yard game of the year and the
18th of his career before halftime against a beleaguered Rams
defense that LaDainian Tomlinson gouged for 183 yards last week.
"There's no reason to try to sugarcoat it," Rams safety Corey
Chavous said. "We're doing a good job, I think, 90 percent of the
time stopping the run. But we're giving up chunks of yardage -- I
mean, big chunks of yardage -- on two or three plays.
"Those two or three plays are the reason why somebody's rushing
for 170 yards rather than 70 or 80 yards in a game."
The Chiefs lost left guard Brian Waters, coming off an All-Pro
season, with a leg injury in the first quarter. Johnson, who said
"I don't get hit, I give hits" on a conference call days after
getting 155 yards against the Seahawks, wasn't slowed down much.
"I can't concentrate on who goes down," Johnson said. "If
everybody goes down I've got to find a way to get yardage."
The Rams entered the game among the NFL leaders in turnover
margin at plus-10. They're minus-4 the last two games after the
three costly fumbles helped the Chiefs take a 17-0 lead early in
the second quarter.
Dane Looker, in for his sure hands with the Chiefs punting from
the St. Louis 45, fumbled a fair catch in the first quarter. In the
second quarter, Allen ran down Bulger on a rollout and stripped
him, and then stripped Jackson on a 3-yard gain up the middle.
Johnson's 1-yard run came six plays after the first Rams
turnover. The Chiefs made it 14-0 after the second when a wide-open
Gonzalez snared a 3-yarder.
Four plays after Jackson coughed up the ball at the St. Louis
33, Lawrence Tynes' 42-yard field goal made it 17-0 with 10:22 to
go in the first half.
The rest of the way it was a game of catch-up for the Rams. They
closed to 24-17 on Kevin Curtis' 2-yard catch late in the third
quarter before the Chiefs answered with Huard's 11-yard pass to
Kris Wilson with 6:20 to go.
Gonzalez has 59 career TDs receiving, two more than Taylor for
the franchise record. He needs three more to catch Shannon Sharpe,
who holds the NFL record for a tight end.
Bulger's fourth straight 300-yard passing game was wasted for
St. Louis. He was 31-for-42 for 354 yards with no interceptions.
The game ended on a sour note for the Rams. Kevin Curtis was
taken to a hospital for observation after a blow to the ribs from
Sammy Knight on a meaningless 23-yard catch near the Kansas City
Pitcher Chris Carpenter of the World Series champion St.
Louis Cardinals was on the field for the coin toss and watched the
game from the sidelines with his young son. Other Cardinals
attending were reliever Josh Hancock and trainer Barry Weinberg.
... The Chiefs have outscored the Rams 134-61 in the last three
meetings. ... Isaac Bruce had three receptions for 61 yards and has
12,832 career yards, passing Irving Fryar for ninth place.