Chiefs 31, Rams 17

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ST. LOUIS (AP)—After backing up pregame braggadocio about dealing out the hits rather than taking them, Larry Johnson had a lot more to say.

Johnson rushed for 172 yards, becoming the second straight running back to punish the St. Louis Rams’ defense in the Kansas City Chiefs’ 31-17 victory on Sunday. It wasn’t nearly enough.

“I’m a little disappointed because I feel we did leave 200 yards of rushing on that field,” Johnson said. “The way we were going out there and just pushing them backward and shakings things up, we should have done even more.”

The Chiefs defense forced three early turnovers against a team that emphasizes ball security, and Kansas City capitalized en route to a 17-point cushion.

“You can’t put Kansas City in a short field like that,” Rams offensive tackle Orlando Pace said. “It makes it tough on us and a lot easier on those guys.”

Jared Allen stripped Marc Bulger on a sack and recovered Steven Jackson’s fumble for the Chiefs, who have won three in a row for the first time under new coach Herman Edwards.

Two touchdown catches by Tony Gonzalez, who broke Otis Taylor’s franchise career mark, helped Kansas City (5-3) raise its record to an NFL-best 21-5 in interconference play since 1995. Damon Huard was mistake-free again, going 10-for-15 for 148 yards and three touchdowns.

Jackson had 219 yards in all for the Rams (4-4), who have lost three in a row to negate a fast start under new coach Scott Linehan. Jackson had 86 yards on 19 carries with a 1-yard touchdown, and caught a career-best 13 passes for 133 yards, but also had one of the Rams’ three lost fumbles.

It was the first 100-yard receiving game by a Rams running back since Marshall Faulk in 2001.

Johnson had 172 yards on 27 carries, including a 1-yard score for his fifth touchdown in two weeks; a 45-yarder when the Chiefs were backed up in the second quarter; and a 16-yarder that set up a field goal. He secured his fifth 100-yard game of the year and the 18th of his career before halftime against a beleaguered Rams defense that LaDainian Tomlinson gouged for 183 yards last week.

“There’s no reason to try to sugarcoat it,” Rams safety Corey Chavous said. “We’re doing a good job, I think, 90 percent of the time stopping the run. But we’re giving up chunks of yardage—I mean, big chunks of yardage—on two or three plays.

“Those two or three plays are the reason why somebody’s rushing for 170 yards rather than 70 or 80 yards in a game.”

The Chiefs lost left guard Brian Waters, coming off an All-Pro season, with a leg injury in the first quarter. Johnson, who said “I don’t get hit, I give hits” on a conference call days after getting 155 yards against the Seahawks, wasn’t slowed down much.

“I can’t concentrate on who goes down,” Johnson said. “If everybody goes down I’ve got to find a way to get yardage.”

The Rams entered the game among the NFL leaders in turnover margin at plus-10. They’re minus-4 the last two games after the three costly fumbles helped the Chiefs take a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter.

Dane Looker, in for his sure hands with the Chiefs punting from the St. Louis 45, fumbled a fair catch in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Allen ran down Bulger on a rollout and stripped him, and then stripped Jackson on a 3-yard gain up the middle.

Johnson’s 1-yard run came six plays after the first Rams turnover. The Chiefs made it 14-0 after the second when a wide-open Gonzalez snared a 3-yarder.

Four plays after Jackson coughed up the ball at the St. Louis 33, Lawrence Tynes’ 42-yard field goal made it 17-0 with 10:22 to go in the first half.

The rest of the way it was a game of catch-up for the Rams. They closed to 24-17 on Kevin Curtis’ 2-yard catch late in the third quarter before the Chiefs answered with Huard’s 11-yard pass to Kris Wilson with 6:20 to go.

Gonzalez has 59 career TDs receiving, two more than Taylor for the franchise record. He needs three more to catch Shannon Sharpe, who holds the NFL record for a tight end.

Bulger’s fourth straight 300-yard passing game was wasted for St. Louis. He was 31-for-42 for 354 yards with no interceptions.

The game ended on a sour note for the Rams. Kevin Curtis was taken to a hospital for observation after a blow to the ribs from Sammy Knight on a meaningless 23-yard catch near the Kansas City sideline.

Notes

Pitcher Chris Carpenter of the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals was on the field for the coin toss and watched the game from the sidelines with his young son. Other Cardinals attending were reliever Josh Hancock and trainer Barry Weinberg. … The Chiefs have outscored the Rams 134-61 in the last three meetings. … Isaac Bruce had three receptions for 61 yards and has 12,832 career yards, passing Irving Fryar for ninth place.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Kansas City
D. Huard D. Huard QB
10-15, 148 yds
3 TDs
 St. Louis
S. Jackson S. Jackson RB
19 Rush, 86 yds
1 TD

Team Stat Leaders

Passing Yards
Rushing Yards
Receiving Yards

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