St. Louis It was four incomplete passes and out for St. Louis Rams backup quarterback Joe Germaine, who lost his backup job just like that.
Third-stringer Marc Bulger played the last three quarters after Germaine struggled again, and the Rams' defense scored two second-half touchdowns on miscues by Bubby Brister in a 21-17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday night. The Chiefs blew a 17-0 third-quarter lead.
"I think he'll be fine, but we can't wait," Rams coach Mike Martz said of his quarterback decision. "Marc is now our No. 2."
That came as a surprise to Germaine, a fourth-round pick in 1999 who inherited the backup job when Trent Green was traded to the Chiefs.
"You probably know more than I do," he told a reporter, adding that Martz had told him "nothing."
"Our first unit was as good as our second unit was bad," Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil said. "The second half we were bad, that's as polite as I can say it."
The game was Vermeil's first in St. Louis since coming out of retirement this year to coach the Chiefs (2-2). Vermeil led the Rams (3-2) to the Super Bowl championship after the 1999 season and heard mostly cheers as he ran on the field for the first time, shaking his fist in the air.
After the game, Vermeil hugged every Rams player and/or coach within range.
"I enjoyed it," Vermeil said. "I enjoyed seeing some of my former players and coaches. It was a really warm experience for me."
The Rams won their fourth straight Governor's Cup, a trophy held in such light regard that all of the top players had cameo roles at best and in the case of Kurt Warner, didn't play at all.
Rookie Tommy Polley had an 83-yard interception near the end of the third quarter and Tyoka Jackson ran 35 yards after the ball slipped out of Brister's hand while he was attempting to pass, for the game-winner with 8:12 to go.
The replacement officials appeared to have the proceedings under control most of the time, except just after the two-minute warning at the end of the first half when referee Mack Gentry's running commentary could be heard by all.
A sample: "It's over, hey, hey, hey, it's over," Gentry admonished after a play. "Come on, come on."
He also reminded players of the game situation: "Second down, second down, second down, second down."
Gentry also showed his lack of expertise when the Chiefs challenged a juggling reception by Rams wide receiver Az-Zahir Hakim in the second quarter. Gentry needed some coaching from Jim Daopoulos, a retired NFL referee and the umpire on the crew, who advised Gentry to remove his headset before removing the cover to view the TV monitor.
The Rams held out Warner to ensure he's healthy for next week's regular-season opener at Philadelphia, just as they did in last year's preseason finale. The team's other big star, NFL MVP Marshall Faulk, had only two carries for 4 yards.
Bulger ended up getting the bulk of the playing time instead of Germaine, who angered Martz by going 0-for-4 and getting sacked for a 13-yard loss in the first quarter. Germaine completed only 12 of his last 40 passes in the preseason, and also was sacked 10 times.
Bulger was 18-for-34 for 156 yards.
Green, who was supposed to be the Rams starter in their Super Bowl season before suffering a season-ending knee injury in the 1999 preseason, played a little more than one quarter. Green was 8-for-15 for 110 yards.
He led the Chiefs to their first touchdown, a 3-yard run by Tony Richardson with 12:29 to go in the second quarter.
Brister, the Cheifs' third stringer, was the backup Friday because Todd Collins has bruised ribs and a bruised shoulder. He hit Larry Parker for a 30-yard completion to the 1 to set up the second score, a 1-yard run by Mike Cloud with 7:54 to go in the half.
Todd Peterson, whose 39-yard field goal attempt bounced off the right upright in the first quarter, connected from 24 yards with 9:38 to go in the third quarter for a 17-0 lead.
The officials appeared to have a let-them-play attitude most of the game, throwing the first flag with 59 seconds left in the quarter. There were five penalties called in the first half, four in the second half.
A second Chiefs challenge, on a punt that was downed at the Kansas City 1, also was denied in the third quarter.