|Sunday, October 22
Chiefs beat Rams at own game
By John Clayton
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- No, the Chiefs didn't come up with the magic formula to beat the Rams on Sunday. They did it the unorthodox way.
The Chiefs did neither. They had 10 yards rushing during the first three quarters. Their longest possession was six plays.
What worked was using the same sense for going for the jugular on offense that the Rams use. Score early. Score often. When in doubt, keep scoring.
"I think going in we knew we had to score points," said quarterback Elvis Grbac, who completed 18 of 30 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns before leaving with a elbow muscle injury that isn't expected to keep him out of next Sunday's game against the Seahawks.
Grbac gave way in the fourth quarter with a 40-28 lead to 43-year-old Warren Moon. Moon went 3-for-3 and produced two more touchdown drives. In other words, the Chiefs rammed the Rams at their own style.
"We've watched this team score 50 before, so we knew they were capable of doing that," Moon said. "So we needed to score points. We felt that we needed to be aggressive. Most teams that tried to play them played very passive. They've tried to control the ball and eat up time. You can't do that against these guys because they score too quick."
The Rams have surrendered 228 points in seven games, an incredible 34 points a game. Of course, most teams don't have the offensive playmakers who bless the Chiefs' roster. Derrick Alexander benched Rams cornerback Todd Lyght by beating mostly him for 117 yards and a touchdown on five catches.
Rookie receiver Sylvester Morris not only caught five passes for 64 yards, but he completed a 31-yard pass to Alexander by scrambling to the left on a flea-flicker. Tight end Tony Gonzalez physically manhandled the Rams' safeties in catching five passes for 117 yards and a touchdown.
"The guy pushed off on me all day and the officials let him do that," Rams safety Devin Bush said of Gonzalez. "The minute I touched him, though, I got called for pass interference. You wonder what they were looking for."
What the Chiefs were looking for was to try to beat the Rams in a shootout.
"You can't rest on your laurels against these guys," Chiefs coach Gunther Cunningham said. "They are a heck of a football team. They are every bit as good as everyone says they were. I think their only shortcoming was that they had some guys banged up on their offensive line, but their quarterbacks are both outstanding players. Marshall Faulk is in a class by himself."
If anything, though, the Chiefs found an identity Sunday that they had been seeking all season. Don't get fooled by Kimble Anders' 102-yard rushing day on 13 carries. Anders, making his first start of the season, gained 94 yards on 11 carries in the fourth quarter of garbage time.
"We're finding our identity slowly," Moon said. "This team is not the running team that we want it to be. It's a passing team. If you look at the structure of our guys on offense, we've got three talented receivers. We've got probably the best tight end before he's done who ever played the game. We got a quarterback who is really intelligent who knows where to go with the football."
The Rams have such a banged-up defense that they are valuable to opposing offenses. Their defensive tackles are all playing hurt and can't consistently apply inside pressure to the quarterbacks. That forces the Rams to blitz to get pressure and leaves a suspect secondary exposed to allowing big plays.
Four different receivers for the Chiefs caught 30-yard passes.
"I think it was a no-brainer to open it up; I think we had to," Cunningham said. "With the offense and the ability of the Rams to score points, I think that every team that plays them knows they have to score as many points as you can and play good on special teams. Every time you touch the ball, you have to think about getting some points somehow, some way. That was our mindset."
The Chiefs had 14 offensive possessions. They scored on eight of them for six touchdowns and two field goals.
"It was kind of funny," Grbac said. "We were sitting there on Saturday and they were messing with the clock. I asked one of the coaches what they were doing. Were they checking the lightbulbs to see how many points they were going to score and how many we were going to score and made sure every lightbulb was in there. But the mindset going in was to score as many as you can to win this game."
Defensively, the Chiefs came out with six defensive backs, but they settled into some five-defensive back schemes. Linebacker Donnie Edwards was at his best chasing around players for 14 tackles. Defensive linemen deflected Kurt Warner passes at the line of scrimmage. The Chiefs blitzed linebackers and defensive backs to keep the pressure on the Rams' quarterbacks.
The Chiefs got banged up themselves. Grbac's elbow suffered a contusion that leaves him day to day. Morris suffered a shoulder injury. Gonzalez fell on the football and was bruised.
Scoring 54 points, though, made everyone on the Chiefs feel no pain.
John Clayton is the senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.