KANSAS CITY, MO. — There was enough to be concerned about and so much to correct, yet the Ravens exited the cramped visiting locker room at Arrowhead Stadium late Sunday afternoon feeling great about themselves and where they sit in the AFC North.
Over the previous three hours, they did more than enough to lose a football game to the Kansas City Chiefs. In the first half, they couldn’t stop the run and were pushed around at times at the line of scrimmage. Their offense couldn’t sustain a drive early and then struggled to finish one late. They turned the ball over twice and surrendered a couple of big special teams plays.
But in the end, they dodged the type of deflating loss that they endured several times last season by relying on their rookie kicker and the charity of their opponent. Three Justin Tucker field goals and four Chiefs’ turnovers — three by beleaguered quarterback Matt Cassel — were the difference in an uneven 9-6 victory in front of announced 68,803.
Tucker converted field goals from 28, 26 and 39 yards, marking the Ravens’ first win without scoring a touchdown since they beat the San Francisco 49ers, 9-7, exactly five years ago today.
“I think we did what we needed to do to win the football game and in the National Football League, that’s really what’s important,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh. “That’s the main thing. I think we should celebrate that and our guys did find a way to win. If you look at it, there were games last year truthfully, we won four on the road and they were against teams that maybe we weren’t supposed to win against. And the ones that we lost, they were over teams that we favored against, right?
“This was one of those games that we didn’t win last year and this year we did. To me, that’s the important thing and that’s the big thing. Playing better? Absolutely. We have to play better, no doubt.”
Today’s victory, coupled by Cincinnati’s loss to Miami, gives the Ravens (4-1) a little breathing room in the division with a home game versus the Dallas Cowboys looming next Sunday. The second-place Bengals are 3-2 but the Ravens have already beaten them once this season.
It also gave the Ravens their first road victory in two tries this season and in the process, reversed a script that plagued them last season in letdown road losses to the Titans, Jaguars and Seahawks.
“Games like this last year, we had a hard time winning,” said running back Ray Rice who rushed 17 times for 102 yards. “But right now with our veteran leadership, we’re finding ways to win. Obviously, this one felt good. We learned from our situation.”
It was Rice — with an assist from a rare run from quarterback Joe Flacco — who put this game away. Leading 9-6 after Ryan Succop’s 31-yard field goal with 4:34 to play, the Ravens got the ball and never relinquished it.
On a 3rd and1 5 from their own 15, Flacco scrambled 16 yards for the first down. With the Chiefs down to just one timeout, the Ravens ran the next three plays with Rice getting six, three and then one yard on 3rd and 1 to pick up the first down and put away the Chiefs.
“That was just part of what we had to do to win the game,” said Flacco who was just 13-of-27 for 187 yards and an interception. “They’re not always pretty around here [but] we do what we have to do to win the football game. I’ve been saying that for a long time, whether that’s throwing for 400 yards or having a [bad] day and throwing for 100 yards. We do what we have to do to win the game and we were able to do that.”
They certainly had some help as Cassel threw two interceptions and the Chiefs (1-4) fumbled twice. They now have turned the ball over a league-leading 19 times on the season. But even with the help, the Ravens weren’t able to shake Kansas City until the very end.
— Baltimore Sun