From M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland
A loss is always a loss in the National Football League.
But the 31-13 defeat suffered by the Chiefs on Friday night in the Crab Cake City felt almost like a victory compared to last week’s debacle against Tampa Bay.
They actually scored a touchdown this week, and played with more passion; a level of intensity worthy of an NFL game, whether pre-season or regular season.
Friday night, the Chiefs were able to gain a measure of rehab on their football standing, playing with thoughts of execution and production and not protection of bodies.
“We talked coming into the game about doing fundamental things a lot better, on offense, defense and special teams,” said head coach Todd Haley. “For the most part, we were able to do that a little better in more areas and that’s a positive sign to me. We obviously have a long way to go.
“We got to come on the road in a hostile environment, a good road game atmosphere, the crowd was loud and there were a lot of things that we had to deal with that will help our team â€¦ we’ll take a lot from this.”
Yes, there was plenty to take from the night, but not enough to satisfy the Chiefs and their goals.
“We’re not there yet,” said OLB Andy Studebaker. “We’re not where we want to be. We need to take advantage of the time we have left to get ready for this season.”
Offensively, the No. 1 group could not get anything going in the first quarter and the early part of the second quarter before QB Matt Cassel left the game and Tyler Palko entered the huddle. In all they had 85 yards in offense on 22 plays that counted. They also had a pair of penalties. Only once did that first unit get into the red zone and that was thanks to a gift from the Ravens.
Cassel and the offense got nine plays in the first four minutes, thanks to a muffed punt by Ravens CB Ladarius Webb that was recovered by RB Jackie Battle at the Ravens 15-yard line. But all they were able to put on the board was a 31-yard FG from Ryan Succop. Those nine plays produced a total of 28 yards and one first down. With that gift from the muffed punt, they gained two yards on three plays.
The No. 1 unit had three more possessions and they went for four plays and 32 yards, three plays and minus-eight yards, and six plays for 33 yards that ended with a missed FG by Succop that hit the right upright from 46 yards. The only play that amounted to anything in those possessions was a 26-yard Cassel completion to WR Dwayne Bowe. There were also two plays where RB Dexter McCluster picked up a total of 25 yards, including a great second-effort play where he fell before he reached the first-down marker, but got up and scrambled for the first down.
Defensively, the Chiefs did not allow the Ravens offense to get moving in any fashion. Starting QB Joe Flacco played into the third quarter, but in the first half he wasn’t able to get anything going save for a first quarter FG from Billy Cundiff of 49 yards. It wasn’t until less than six minutes were left in the first half, and for the most part the Chiefs No. 1 defense on the sideline, when Baltimore dented the end zone.
Flacco took them 81 yards in six plays, with 43 yards coming on one play, when Flacco connected with WR Lee Evans, who beat Chiefs rookie CB Jalil Brown. The touchdown came on a 26-yard touchdown run by RB Ray Rice. The Ravens offensive line caved in the entire front wall of the Chiefs defense and the only defender with a chance to make the stop was CB Javier Arenas, but he whiffed on his tackle attempt in the open field.
With Cundiff’s PAT kick, the Ravens led 10-3.
But that seemed to light a fire under the Chiefs and Palko. The No. 2 QB directed them on a nine-play, 80-yard drive with three first downs plays. Palko was three of four in the possession, hitting WR Verran Tucker for 28 yards, then McCluster for 18 yards and finally a 4-yard scoring throw to WR Terrance Copper. Succop’s PAT kick tied the score at 10-10 and the teams went to the locker room at half-time.
Palko led the offense to another scoring drive in the third quarter, this one 12 plays and 43 yards that ended with a 30-yard FG from Succop. The guy who made that possession work was RB Jackie Battle. He had 22 of those 43 yards as a runner and a receiver. The offense picked up three first downs in the drive, and Palko found Tucker for a 12-yard completion on a 3rd-and-6 play.
The Succop FG gave the Chiefs a 13-10 lead. The No. 2 and 3 defensive units got the job done, especially rookie OLB Justin Houston who was almost unstoppable for the Ravens pass protection. Houston came off the edge for a pair of sacks.
But eventually the Ravens put together a fourth quarter scoring drive that went for 65 yards on 5 plays before RB Jalen Parmele scored on a nice 1â€”yard run, breaking a couple of Chiefs tackles while getting it done. Cundiff’s PAT kick gave Baltimore a 17-13 lead. They added another touchdown late in the game, on a 5-yard touchdown scamper by rookie QB Tyrod Taylor. Later, RB Anthony Allen scored on a 1-yard run.
To get that last touchdown, the Ravens threw a long pass and called time outs to save time to get Allen into the end zone. Rubbing it in a bit?
“I just control what we do,” Haley said. “Every day is important, every snap is important. There were probably guys out on the field that had limited opportunities. I’m trying to do what I have to do to get our team ready.”
That includes a return to training camp mode, even though the team will be working out of its own facilities at the Truman Sports Complex.
“We’ve got a lot of practices left and a lot of tape to watch,” said Studebaker. “We feel we’ll be ready.”