St. Louis Jeff Fisher sure got a lot done in a week.
Sam Bradford threw touchdown passes on his first two drives and the St. Louis Rams made marked improvements on the other side of the ball in Week 2 of the preseason in a 31-17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the annual Governor’s Cup game Saturday night.
“I think last week we had some self-inflicted wounds with some penalties and we were pretty much penalty free all game,” running back Steven Jackson said. “I think that was one of the huge differences between last week and this week.
“I think we have something to build off.”
Lance Kendricks and Danny Amendola scored on catches of 23 and 8 yards and Jackson had 49 yards on seven carries in a 151-yard first quarter that handed the backups a two-touchdown cushion. The Rams (1-1) totaled 215 yards in a 38-3 loss last week at Indianapolis, flopping in the debut of their new coach.
“What happened tonight was directly related to what happened last week,” Fisher said. “We had a really good week of practice.
“Not that we didn’t practice well before the Colts game but we put some more things in and things started to fall together for us.”
Bradford was 6 for 9 for 102 yards for St. Louis (No. 28 AP Pro32). Matt Cassel played the first half for Kansas City (1-1) and was 13 for 18 for 142 yards.
Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel began his postgame remarks by ripping the effort. Safety Kendrick Lewis aggravated a shoulder injury in the second quarter.
“Well, it was not very good tonight. And that’s being a little generous to say that,” Crennel said. “When you’re breaking camp and doing all those kinds of things, it just shows we’re not mature enough yet. No one really played good.”
Rookie Greg Zuerlein’s 52-yard field goal capped a 17-point first half for the Rams, who trailed the NFL with a 12.1-yard scoring average last season while going 2-14. They scored 13 or fewer points in 12 games.
Peyton Hillis scored on a 1-yard run in the second quarter, and Jeremy Horne caught a 38-yard touchdown pass from Brady Quinn in the waning minutes for the Chiefs (No. 18).
Kansas City committed four turnovers, including three lost fumbles, and played from behind the entire game. Last week the Chiefs beat Arizona 27-17 at home and got two touchdowns in two possessions by the first string. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe didn’t make the trip a day after signing a franchise tender.
“We’ve got to do a better job of protecting the football and have to be more consistent,” Cassel said. “But all in all there are some positives to take away.
“We scored on the two-minute drive and I think the guys responded to a little adversity early on.”
Although the Chiefs have beaten the Rams five straight times since 1997 in the regular season, the Rams lead the preseason series 9-5 since moving to St. Louis in 1995. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon attended the game.
The attendance was announced at 53,272, although the 66,000-seat capacity stadium appeared to be about half-filled at kickoff.
Cassel produced an 80-yard drive capped by Hillis’ 1-yard run early in the second quarter on his third series. Jamaal Charles had 17 yards on three carries, and Kevin Boss had four receptions for 62 yards.
“Obviously not good enough at all,” Cassel said, “and we’re back in training camp mode again on Monday.”
The Chiefs’ first possession lasted just two plays with Craig Dahl recovering wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin’s fumble at the Kansas City 31. Amendola tumbled into the end zone with the ball despite interference on Javier Arenas to put the Rams up 14-0 with just over 10 minutes to go in the first.
The Rams made an immediate splash. Bradford hit Amendola for a 35-yard gain off play action on the opening snap, and St. Louis needed only four plays and 1:58 to move 80 yards to take the lead on Kendricks’ catch over the middle.
Rookies Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson scored on short runs in the third and fourth quarters for St. Louis. The Rams had a short field after Matthew Conrath intercepted Ricky Stanzi on a ball tipped by Jerome Murphy at the Chiefs 18 on the second play of the third quarter. That set up a 1-yard run by Pead, a second-round pick slated to be Jackson’s backup.