LOS ANGELES (AP) — The best way to ease No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff into the NFL will be a powerful rushing offense, coach Jeff Fisher has said time and again, and it proved to be true Saturday night.
Goff threw his first touchdown pass, Todd Gurley rushed for a score in his preseason debut, and the Los Angeles Rams defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 21-20.
Gurley, who was held out of exhibition games last season as a rookie while recovering from a torn ACL, rushed for 20 yards on four carries and had a 3-yard touchdown run.
With the Chiefs (0-2) holding out four defensive starters, the starting offensive line played four series and allowed Rams running backs Gurley, Benny Cunningham and Malcolm Brown to rush for 85 yards on 15 carries.
“It’s going to start there,” Fisher said.
Case Keenum started at quarterback and led the Rams (2-0) to two touchdowns, going 4 of 5 for 53 yards with an 11-yard scoring pass to Pharoh Cooper before giving way to Goff.
Goff mostly struggled for the second consecutive week despite working with the first-unit offensive line for two series. Goff lost a fumble after tripping over left guard Cody Wichmann and fumbled out of bounds while being sacked.
It wasn’t until the ground game got going for Goff that he finally found success. His touchdown came on a 10-yard throw to Brown, who made a juggling catch to put the Rams ahead early in the fourth quarter. Brown had runs of 28 and 5 yards on the plays before the touchdown, and Goff’s completions off play-action started the drive.
“When guys are ripping off runs like Malcolm was on that drive, and a lot of guys were throughout the whole game, it always helps,” Goff said. “It did take a drive or two to get in rhythm, but once I did I was happy I was left in there for as long as I was.”
Alex Smith was 9 of 12 for 137 yards and one touchdown, leading the Chiefs to 17 points on four possessions. Smith’s pump-fake on a 20-yard touchdown pass completely fooled two Rams defenders and allowed Jeremy Maclin to step into the end zone untouched.
“I thought Alex did well, well enough where I felt comfortable pulling him out and getting Nick (Foles) a couple reps early with the first group,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.
Maclin and Rams cornerback Lamarcus Joyner were ejected with 44 seconds left in the first half after trading slaps to the head.
Referee Pete Morelli accidentally identified Joyner as playing for St. Louis, resulting in boos from the Coliseum crowd.
Jabriel Washington recovered quarterback Aaron Murray’s fumble at the Rams 23-yard line to seal the win. The Chiefs forced a three-and-out to get the ball back with 1:22 left, but Murray threw four incompletions to end the threat.
Chiefs: D.J. White started at cornerback, working opposite last season’s Defensive Rookie of the Year Marcus Peters. The sixth-round pick from Georgia Tech was effective when blitzing, but had mixed results in coverage. White finished with one tackle.
Rams: The Rams loaded up on rookie wide receivers hoping to find complements to Tavon Austin and Kenny Britt, but are still waiting for someone to break through. Cooper scored on his only reception, while Paul McRoberts added one catch for 6 yards. Production is more likely to come from the tight ends Tyler Higbee, who did not play because of illness, and Temarrick Hemingway, who had a 26-yard reception from Goff.
Chiefs: Foles was solid against his former team, going 18 of 22 for 133 yards. With Tyler Bray’ status uncertain after suffering a small chip fracture in his cervical spine last week against the Seattle Seahawks, Foles’ experience as a starter with the Rams and Philadelphia Eagles represents a significant upgrade behind Smith regardless of when the fourth-year quarterback from Tennessee is able to return.
“He’s playing catch-up right now, but he did a nice job,” Reid said.
Rams: With the secondary struggling again, cornerback E.J. Gaines’ first live action since suffering a foot injury in training camp last year was a welcome sign. Gaines finished with four tackles and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he started opposite Trumaine Johnson next week at Denver.
Chiefs: Fullback Trey Millard was taken off the field on a cart after suffering a left knee injury covering a punt. Millard previously tore the ACL in his left knee as a senior at Oklahoma. Reid initially characterized the
injury as a knee sprain and said Millard would undergo an MRI on Sunday.
Rams: Wide receiver Bradley Marquez suffered a right ankle injury in the third quarter. Marquez did not appear to be able to put any weight on his leg as he was helped off the field.
Chiefs: “It’s really infectious the way he carries himself and we just try to feed off that, keep him healthy and off the ground,” Chiefs center Mitch Morse said of Smith’s play.
Rams: “Every day gets a little bit better, every game gets a little bit better, every drive, every play, so I feel like I have made some good strides,” Goff said of his improvement.
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