St. Louis In his first preseason game calling the plays, Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley had just as much trouble finishing off drives as the man he replaced.
The Chiefs had four gains of 40 yards or more and totaled 406 yards, yet still lost 17-9 to the St. Louis Rams on Thursday night to finish their fourth winless preseason this decade.
“I made a few mistakes out there but overall it felt good,” Haley said. “Obviously, there were a couple of plays I would like to have back. After I got the feel a little bit, I didn’t feel too out of sync with the game and what was going on.”
Quincy Butler’s 28-yard interception return off Tyler Thigpen was the go-ahead score late in the third quarter for the Rams (3-1), who produced three turnovers and won the annual Governor’s Cup. St. Louis had 12 takeaways in the preseason under new coach Steve Spagnuolo after totaling one takeaway in the 2008 preseason.
“Every time the ball’s in the air, we all think ‘It’s my ball,”’ said Butler, a backup safety. “We all go and get it.”
Haley fired offensive coordinator Chan Gailey on Monday and assumed that role, which he held while helping the Arizona Cardinals reach the Super Bowl last season. Kansas City (0-4) totaled 42 points in the preseason and scored only two offensive touchdowns.
“I thought our defense gave us a chance to win,” Haley said. “Running the football is something we can feel good about.”
Two teams from opposite sides of Missouri coming off 2-14 seasons played to thousands of empty seats, with announced attendance of 46,616 at the 66,000-capacity Edward Jones Dome.
Gov. Jay Nixon attended the game and was at midfield for the coin toss for a game won by the home team the last six years.
Besides giving virtually all starters cameo roles, both teams had to go with backup quarterbacks. Kansas City’s Matt Cassel (knee) is out two to four weeks, and St. Louis’ Marc Bulger (broken pinkie) missed his third straight game but expects to be at full strength for the opener next week at Seattle.
Bulger threw during the pre-game warmups, and Donnie Avery, the top returning wide receiver, saw his first action after recovering from a stress fracture to his foot.
“It was good to get those guys back in the swing,” Spagnuolo said. “Now we’ve just got to get Marc cranked up.”
The Chiefs had 208 yards at halftime, including three big gainers plus an interception that gave them possession at the Rams 23. They didn’t get much from Brodie Croyle, who was 5-for-16 for 85 yards while getting sacked twice, and settled for three field goals by Ryan Succop and a 9-7 lead.
“The silver lining is the defense held them and got them to kick a field goal,” Spagnuolo said. “So there’s some good and bad always.”
Sean Ryan turned a slant pattern into a 40-yard gain and Larry Johnson broke a 41-yarder on consecutive plays late in the first quarter before Kansas City stalled following consecutive penalties. Dantrell Savage broke two tackles at the line on a 70-yard jaunt to the Rams 28 in the second quarter before a sack by Victor Adeyanju forced a 40-yard field goal, and the Chiefs gained only 7 yards after DaJuan Morgan intercepted a pass by Brock Berlin with 1:09 to go, ending up with a 34-yard field goal.
Berlin was 8 for 10 for 88 yards the previous series, with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Fells the first play after the two-minute warning to put the Rams ahead 7-6.
Kyle Boller started in place of Bulger for the third straight game and played the first quarter, going 3 for 4 for 24 yards. Wide receiver Donnie Avery saw his first action of the preseason after recovering from a stress fracture.
Offensive tackle Jason Smith, the second overall pick of the draft, started at right tackle for the Rams and played left tackle part of the third quarter after Alex Barron was taken out.