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Outstanding Running Game and Stout Defense Not Enough

Posted Oct 7, 2012

Turnovers hurt again

Before the first ball was even kicked, Arrowhead Stadium was filled with pink in support of the NFL’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As the game began, the pink turned to Red as the Chiefs defense battled in a hard fought game that came down to only five field goals deciding the outcome of a week five matchup with the visiting Baltimore Ravens.

The first fifteen minutes of the game saw the special teamers getting a solid workout. With two consecutive possessions for each team ending in punts, the Chiefs mounted a drive late in the first quarter that took them into enemy territory. The drive was stalled when QB Matt Cassel pitched the ball to RB Cyrus Gray who couldn’t haul it in. That miscue led to the first points of the afternoon as the score became 3-0, Baltimore.

The defense would not allow the Ravens offense to remain on the field very long – on the afternoon, the Chiefs held nearly a 10-minute advantage in time of possession through four quarters.

This was the case partly because of a punishing run defense and partly because of a pass rush that pressured QB Joe Flacco all day, racking up four sacks and holding one of the League’s most prolific passing offenses to no trips to the end zone and only 187 yards through the air.

LB Tamba Hali led the charge initially but would not be outdone by second year sensation, LB Justin Houston. The tandem combined for four sacks on the afternoon and forced Baltimore and Flacco to rely on an offensive line that struggled to contain the Chiefs and had to dig in with a run game that didn’t fare much better.

A late second quarter field goal by K Ryan Succop had the game tied 3-3 going into the half. Through two quarters, the Chiefs had amassed 179 yard yards rushing and RB Jamaal Charles had broken the century mark with 125 yards leading all rushers. Clearly the decision to run the ball down the field was giving Kansas City an advantage and left the Ravens knowing what was coming, but unsure of which ball carrier would look to punish their defensive line.

Heading into the third quarter, on the opening kickoff, former Raven, LB Edgar Jones recovered a Baltimore fumble on the 29-yard line. The crowd at Arrowhead erupted and was ready for the offense to take charge. The Chiefs methodically moved the ball towards the end zone with a balanced attack that saw three passes and three runs. The final play of the drive ended in a fumble recovery for the Ravens when Cassel and C Ryan Lilja were out of sync as the ball squirted out and was recovered by perennial All-Pro Safety, Ed Reed.

Turnovers once again haunted the Chiefs and this game found them victim of four more, however, on this day, the defense would hold yet again.

Unable to capitalize on the recovery, the Ravens had to settle for three more points on K Justin Tucker’s 26-yard field goal.

Later in that quarter, after a three and out by the Chiefs, CB Brandon Flowers broke on Flacco’s pass and picked the ball off in front of Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin and ran it back to Baltimore’s 36-yard line.

The favor, however, would be returned as only a few plays later Baltimore responded with their own interception, snaring a wild ball out of WR Dwayne Bowe’s arms, which landed in the hands of CB Cary Williams.

With four turnovers and a quarter remaining, the Chiefs were once again, hurting themselves. Head coach, Romeo Crennel had commented earlier this week that eliminating fumbles and interceptions had been their main focus at practice and his concerns would come to life Sunday afternoon. The Cassel interception would lead to yet another Tucker field goal.

With the game still hanging in the balance, the fourth quarter got underway and the Chiefs found themselves facing a six-point deficit and potentially another home loss.

On their second possession of the final stanza, the Chiefs drove 70 yards and reached pay dirt when Brady Quinn, subbing in for an injured Matt Cassel, found a cutting Dwayne Bowe for 15 yards and a score. Quinn’s connection would be called back as a questionable Dexter McCluster pass interference call negated the touch and forced Succop to hit a 31-yard field goal, pulling the Chiefs within three.

A frenzied Arrowhead crowd hoped the Chiefs would get one final crack at possession, but a Ray Rice third down run put the ball inches past the first down marker. The conversion left the Ravens to line up in victory formation and forced the Chiefs to retreat to the locker-room and look forward to a trip to Tampa next week.

Notables:
- Tamba Hali registered two sacks; three for the season

- Justin Houston recorded two sacks; has six for the season

- Charles rushed 140 yards

- Quinn made his first NFL appearance in two years

- Brandon Flowers notched another interception, 2nd on the year.

- Ryan Succop 2/2 and has now made 8/9 Field Goals in 2012

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