Four takeaways allow Ravens to top Chiefs in field-goal battle

Bob Gretz, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It was a day when bodies and footballs were bouncing all over the surface at Arrowhead Stadium. When it counted, the bounces went the way of the Baltimore Ravens.
In a game with no touchdowns and a wealth of field goals, turnovers and crazy bounces, the Ravens edged the Kansas City Chiefs 9-6.
It was not a game tape that will be filed as a classic game with NFL Films but that mattered not to the Ravens (4-1).
"We had to find a way to win this football game," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We didn't know which way it was going to go or what it was going to take. We had to just figure it out and do what it takes to win the game. We got one more stop and we got one more first down. That's what we needed to do in the end."
On three different plays in the second half, it appeared that the Chiefs (1-4) had finally scored the game's first touchdown. In reality, they put no points on the board on those plays.
Matt Cassel fumbled going in for a touchdown on a quarterback sneak, and the Ravens recovered.
Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco appeared to fumble on a sack, and the ball bounced into the end zone and was recovered by the Chiefs. However, officials ruled him in the grasp, and there was no fumble.
Late in the fourth quarter, Chiefs quarterback Brady Quinn hit wide receiver Dwayne Bowe on a slant pattern that went to the end zone for what appeared to be a 15-yard touchdown. That was wiped off the board when wide receiver Dexter McCluster was called for offensive pass interference for setting a pick on a Ravens defender.
"We played much better overall football," Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said of his team, which had lost games this year by 16, 18 and 17 points. "It could have been better, but I liked the way they played and approached the game. We are going to try to keep that going and be in every game."
Quinn was in the game because Cassel left early in the fourth quarter with a head injury that drew some cheers among frustrated Chiefs fans. That drew an angry response from some of Cassel's teammates.
"When you cheer somebody getting knocked out, I don't care who it is, and it just so happened to be Matt Cassel, it's sickening," Chiefs right tackle Eric Winston said. "It's 100 percent sickening, and I've been in some rough times on some rough teams, and I've never been more embarrassed in my life to play football than in that moment right there."
The Ravens were coming off a 10-day hiatus, and they had trouble getting back in the action in the first half. Baltimore's defense was dented by Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles for 125 yards on 20 carries in the first half, although the Ravens kept the Chiefs out of the end zone.
In the second half, Charles had 15 yards on 10 carries.
"At halftime, our defensive coaches made an adjustment with all of our fronts, and our guys did a better job of getting off the blocks," Harbaugh said. "Our timing wasn't right, but we cleaned that up and played well in the second half."
Kansas City came into the game as the NFL leader with 18 giveaways in four games. That's now 22 giveaways in five games after two interceptions by Matt Cassel and two lost fumbles. Takeaways helped set up all three of Baltimore's field goals.
"You don't win when you give the other team the ball," Chiefs center Ryan Lilja said. "We keep proving that."
A Chiefs turnover set up the only score of the first quarter. In the exchange between Cassel and rookie running back Cyrus Gray, the ball came out, and the Ravens recovered at the Kansas City 42-yard line. Baltimore moved to the 12-yard line, but the Kansas City defense stiffened and allowed only a 28-yard field goal by Justin Tucker.
A Cassel-to-Bowe pass bounced through Bowe's arms and into the hands of Baltimore cornerback Lardarius Webb for another giveaway by the Chiefs. The Ravens were not able to turn the gift into points, as they punted.
A 25-yard punt return by wide receiver Terrance Copper gave the Chiefs better field position, and they were able to take advantage for the first time on the afternoon. They got a 30-yard field goal from Ryan Succop that tied the score 3-3.
The turnovers started again on the opening kickoff of the second half, as Baltimore returner Deonte Thompson coughed up the ball, and it was recovered by Chiefs linebacker Edgar Jones. On first-and-goal at the Ravens' 1-yard line, Cassel and Lilja fumbled the snap, and Ravens safety Ed Reed recovered. That led to a 26-yard Tucker field goal.
Near the end of the third quarter, a Cassel pass to Bowe sailed high, bounced off the receiver's hands and was grabbed by Baltimore cornerback Cary Williams. Nine plays later, Tucker made a 39-yard field goal.
The Chiefs added a fourth-quarter field goal, but that was all the scoring on what was a day for defense.
NOTES: Cassel exited with 9:37 to play in the fourth quarter after he took a big hit from Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata while releasing the ball. ... The Chiefs had more offensive yards (339-298) and the edge in time of possession (34:10-25:50) but still couldn't score a touchdown. ... During the pregame, an airplane circled the stadium pulling a banner that read "We deserve better. Fire Pioli! Bench Cassel!". The Chiefs are 22-32 since Scott Pioli took over as the general manager in 2009.