Chiefs reserves fall short again in 21-20 loss to Rams

Spencer Ware takes the ball into the end zone for a touchdown during a preseason game against Seattle on Saturday, Aug. 13 in Kansas City, Mo. (Emily DeShazer/The Topeka Capital-Journal)
Spencer Ware takes the ball into the end zone for a touchdown during a preseason game against Seattle on Saturday, Aug. 13 in Kansas City, Mo. (Emily DeShazer/The Topeka Capital-Journal)

For the second straight week the Kansas City Chiefs starters left the field with the lead, and for the second straight week the game slipped away with reserves on the field, as the Chiefs fell to the Los Angeles Rams 21-20 in a preseason game Saturday night in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

It was deja vu for head coach Andy Reid.

“There were some good things I saw today from the first and second group,” Reid said to reporters after the game. “We got into the third group and struggled a little bit, and we kind of shot ourselves in the foot again.”

A lost fumble by quarterback Aaron Murray late in the fourth quarter with his team in field goal range and a missed 43-yard field goal by Cairo Santos wasted another effective performance from the first team offense.

Alex Smith and the first team opened the game just as they did a week ago with an efficient drive for a touchdown. The Chiefs converted three third downs on the drive with passes to Travis Kelce, Jeremy Maclin and Chris Conley. Running back Spencer Ware finished the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.

After a three and out on their second drive, the Chiefs struck quickly to open the second quarter. Smith lead a six-play, 75-yard drive in 3:09, capped by a 37-yard strike from Smith to Conley on 3rd-and-2.

Conley said Smith called an audible at the line of scrimmage leading to the big third down play.

“Great throw down the field,” Conley said on the team’s television broadcast. “That’s a trust play right there. That’s something that you necessarily can’t see straight off the line but the quarterback knows he can trust that it’s there.”

The first team offense scored 17 points with Smith at quarterback and added an additional field goal to end the half with Nick Foles leading the drive.

“I thought Alex did well enough where I felt comfortable pulling him out and getting Nick in a couple of reps in there early with the first group, which he needs,” Reid told reporters. “He needs to keep coming along. He’s kind of playing catch up right now, but he did nice job too.”

The only hiccup was second drive, which faltered after tight end Travis Kelce bobbled a 9-yard reception from Smith. The play initially ruled a catch on the field, but overturned following a challenge by Rams coach Jeff Fisher.

Kelce thought the first team offense played well, and felt he should have made the catch cleanly.

“I think the ones came out here and gave it one (heck) of an effort,” Kelce said on the team’s television broadcast. “We came out and scored on the first drive, had a little trouble on the second drive. I should have caught the freaking ball.

“In terms of getting a rhythm going with the offense, right now I think we have a great rhythm and everybody is playing together as one, so you can’t be mad,” he said.

The offense finished with 390 total yards, including 308 passing yards. Smith completed 9 of 12 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown, while Foles went 18 of 22 for 133 yards. Spencer Ware led rushers with 37 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown.

The first team defense struggled again early with run, allowing 58 yards rushing in the first quarter. Last week Seattle rushed for 52 yards in the first quarter.

Aside from allowing 139 yards on the ground, the Chiefs seemingly dominated the game statistically, holding the Rams to just 264 yards of offense and controlling the ball for 36:30. But a series of big plays helped the Rams make the most of their limited scoring chances.

A 41-yard pass interference penalty on safety Ron Parker setup the Rams first touchdown, finished off by a 3-yard run by Todd Gurley.

Several big runs helped the Rams on their second touchdown drive, with backup running backs Benny Cunningham and Malcolm Brown carrying six times for 46 yards. Quarterback Case Keenum hooked up with Pharoh Cooper for an 11-yard touchdown pass.

Brown again gashed the Chiefs defense on the Rams’ final touchdown drive, ripping off a 28-yard gain to the Kansas City 15-yard line. Brown caught a juggling pass from Jared Goff for a 10-yard touchdown.

The Chiefs had opportunities to answer in the fourth quarter. On first down from the Rams’ 45-yard line, defensive end Quinton Coples sacked Murray and forced a fumble for a 15-yard loss.

The Chiefs defense held the Rams to a punt, and Murray immediately connected with Frankie Hammond Jr. for a 30-yard gain to the Rams 28-yard line putting the Chiefs in field goal range.

Just four plays later, Murray bobbled the snap and fumbled, turning over the ball to the Rams. The defense forced one more punt, but the offense could not muster anything on its final drive.

The end of the first half provided a bit of chaos. Maclin and Rams defensive back Lamarcus Joyner briefly fought after a play, and both players were ejected.

DL Rakeem Nunez-Roches had back spasms prior to the game and did not play. FB Trey Millard suffered a knee sprain during punt coverage and will have an MRI on Sunday.

Jamaal Charles (knee), Tyler Bray (neck), Phillip Gaines (knee), Charcandrick West (elbow), Josh Mauga (groin) and Dezman Moses (glute) also did not play. Justin Houston (knee) and Tamba Hali (knee) remain on the physically unable to perform list. Eric Berry has yet to report and did not play.

Matt Derrick is the associate editor for Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.