Tucker's field goals lift Ravens over Chiefs, 9-6
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)
This was the kind of game that fans in 1950s would have loved, a defensive-minded, grind-it-out affair that ultimately came down to who kicked the most field goals.
It's also the kind of game that fans of the Ravens have come to expect.
With a defense anchored by linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed, the Ravens managed to keep the downtrodden Kansas City Chiefs out of the end zone Sunday. Justin Tucker kicked a trio of three field goals to Ryan Succop's two, and that proved to be the difference in Baltimore's 9-6 victory.
''The number one thing we came out here and said was, `Look at the scoreboard.' If they're not on the scoreboard, I don't care what people do against us,'' Lewis said. ''You've heard me speak about this for years. It doesn't matter. Just keep playing the game.''
Indeed, defense has been the Ravens' hallmark over the years.
The guys in black and purple have made a habit of turning offenses black and blue, and that was no different Sunday. Jamaal Charles gashed them for 125 yards rushing in the first half but had just 15 in the second half, and quarterback Matt Cassel was turned into an after-thought.
At least, until he was knocked out of the game entirely.
Cassel was intercepted twice and charged with two fumbles before he was planted by Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata in the fourth quarter. He remained down for several minutes before leaving with what the Chiefs called a ''head injury,'' the extent of which was unknown.
Brady Quinn finished out the game for Kansas City.
''Baltimore is a great team. They've had a tough defense for a long, long time,'' Quinn said. ''If you allow them to stop you running the football and put yourself where you have to pass the ball or in certain passing situations, you can be in trouble.''
Cassel's injury prompted applause from some fans in Kansas City, perhaps some of them the same ones who paid for an airplane to tow a banner before the game pleading for Cassel to be benched and for Chiefs ownership to fire general manager Scott Pioli.
The cheering didn't sit well with members of the Chiefs, either.
''I think it's sickening and disgusting,'' offensive tackle Eric Winston said angrily. ''We are not gladiators and this is not the Roman Colosseum. This is a game.''
Joe Flacco threw for 187 yards and was picked off once, but the Ravens (4-1) were still able to come up with enough points to beat the Chiefs (1-4), who turned it over four times.
The Chiefs have committed 19 turnovers through their first five games, the most this early in a season since the New Orleans Saints had 21 of them in 1997.
''This team needs to do more things to win,'' Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said. ''That's what we're going to work on, try to get this team to do more of the right things so that we can win.''
The Chiefs had a good chance to win this one, even with so much going wrong.
Quinn led the Chiefs down field after Cassel got hurt, and looked as though he'd given them a lead when he connected with Dwayne Bowe for a touchdown. But it was wiped away by an offensive pass interference call on Dexter McCluster, and Succop was forced to kick another field goal.
The Ravens managed to convert two third downs and run out the clock.
''What a football game,'' Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. ''I'm so proud of our guys to find a way to win this football game. We didn't know exactly how it would go, or what it was going to take. We just have to figure it out and win a football game. In the end, we got one more stop and one more first down. That's what we needed to do to win the football game in the end.''
Tucker gave Baltimore a 3-0 lead with his field goal late in the first quarter, but Succop's 30-yarder late in the second quarter sent the game to halftime tied.
Kansas City had a chance to pull ahead after Baltimore fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half. Pass interference gave the Chiefs the ball at the 1-yard line, but Cassel fumbled the snap and Reed recovered it, keeping the game knotted 3-all.
Tucker added a 26-yard field goal moments later, and after Cassel was picked off on a pass that bounced off Bowe's helmet, Tucker hit again from 39 yards to make it 9-3.
The Chiefs managed their fourth-quarter field goal before time finally expired.
''This game is as hard as it gets,'' Lewis said. ''We've been in here before. It was the same type of formula. We knew the kind of game we were going to get out of these guys. We knew it was going to be a tough sled. For us to come in and keep fighting and keep fighting and keep fighting, that's the one thing we talked about. ... Just keep playing all the way to the end.''
Notes: Chiefs LBs Justin Houston and Tamba Hali each had two sacks. ... Quinn played for the first time since Dec. 20, 2009, with Cleveland. ... The Ravens had 298 yards of offense. They're averaging 310.5 yards in two road games and 457 yards in four home games.