Rams foil Vermeil's return with 21-17 comeback victory

Saturday, September 1, 2001

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Rams might have found a new backup quarterback, and the replacement referee finally found the on-off switch for his microphone.

Third-stringer Marc Bulger played the last three quarters after Joe Germaine struggled again, and the Rams' defense scored two second-half touchdowns on miscues by Bubby Brister in a 21-17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday night. The Chiefs blew a 17-0 third-quarter lead.

The Rams won their fourth straight Governor's Cup, a trophy held in such light regard that all of the stars had cameo roles at best and in the case of Kurt Warner, didn't play at all.

Rookie Tommy Polley had an 83-yard interception near the end of the third quarter and Tyoka Jackson ran 35 yards after the ball slipped out of Brister's hand while he was attempting to pass, for the game-winner with 8:12 to go.

The game was Dick Vermeil's first in St. Louis since coming out of retirement this year to coach the Chiefs (2-2). Vermeil led the Rams (3-2) to the Super Bowl championship after the 1999 season and heard mostly cheers as he ran on the field for the first time, shaking his fist in the air.

The Rams held out Warner to ensure he's healthy for next week's regular-season opener at Philadelphia, just as they did in last year's preseason finale. The team's other big star, NFL MVP Marshall Faulk, had only two carries for 4 yards.

Bulger ended up getting the bulk of the playing time instead of Germaine, who angered coach Mike Martz by going 0-for-4 and getting sacked for a 13-yard loss in the first quarter. Germaine completed only 12 of his last 40 passes in the preseason, and also was sacked 10 times.

Bulger was 18-for-34 for 156 yards.

Chiefs starter Trent Green, who was supposed to be the Rams starter in their Super Bowl season before suffering a season-ending knee injury in the 1999 preseason, played a little more than one quarter. Green, traded for a first-round pick in the offseason, was 8-for-15 for 110 yards.

He led the Chiefs to their first touchdown, a 3-yard run by Tony Richardson with 12:29 to go in the second quarter.

Brister, the Cheifs' third stringer, was the backup Friday because Todd Collins has bruised ribs and a bruised shoulder. He hit Larry Parker for a 30-yard completion to the 1 to set up the second score, a 1-yard run by Mike Cloud with 7:54 to go in the half.

Todd Peterson, whose 39-yard field goal attempt bounced off the right upright in the first quarter, connected from 24 yards with 9:38 to go in the third quarter for a 17-0 lead.

The officials appeared to have a let-them-play attitude most of the game, throwing the first flag with 59 seconds left in the quarter. There were five penalties called in the first half, four in the second half.

A second Chiefs challenge, on a punt that was downed at the Kansas City 1, also was denied in the third quarter.

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