Ravens Learn Important Lesson in Win Over Chiefs

September 13, 2009 | Glenn Clark

In their 38-24 win over the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, the Ravens survived a pesky opponent and got off to a 1-0 start thanks to an offensive display the likes of which we’ve never seen.

And in doing so, the Ravens may well have learned a lesson that can stick with them throughout the 2009 season:

That every play-in every game-against every team-matters.

It would be very easy to say that the Ravens were 3-4 plays away from beating the Chiefs in a laugher. In fact, there are for plays that stick out:

-Jon McGraw’s blocked punt-recovered in endzone for a TD
-Steve Hauschka’s missed 41 yard field goal
-Derrick Johnson’s INT and 70 yard return
-Brodie Croyle’s 50 yard pass to Mark Bradley over Fabian Washington

Those 4 plays either directly (or indirectly) created a 20 point swing in the game. If the Ravens get the 3 that Hauschka left out there, and the Chiefs don’t get the 17 that those three plays created; the Ravens would have cruised to a 41-7 victory.

But those plays DIDN’T go that way.

Instead, those 4 plays turned a potential laugher into a game the Ravens had to sweat out in the final minutes; in a game that Todd Heap admitted afterward “everybody was expecting to go” safely in favor of the Ravens.

The Ravens REALLY played a very good game today. Joe Flacco threw for a career-high 307 yards and 3 TD’s. Ray Rice rushed 19 times for 108 yards as part of an attack that (along with RB’s Le’Ron McClain and Willis McGahee) combined for 237 yards of total offense. 7 different Ravens caught passes, with 5 different receivers tallying 30 or more yards. The defense allowed just 9 Kansas City first downs (two more came from penalties), and only 188 total yards. The Ravens won the time of possession battle by an almost 2-1 margin.

It was a particularly impressive performance, at least numbers wise; but it didn’t translate into the final score.

Because of those 4 plays that went the wrong way, the Ravens were forced to dig deep, rally from a 2nd half deficit, and hold off a Chiefs team that suddenly felt like it belonged.

Which was a clear example that every play in every game against every team truly matters.

4 plays causing a 20 point swing can be reversed against a team like the Chiefs. The Ravens recovered from every mistake and marched back down field to forge ahead every time the Chiefs got them in trouble. But they will not be able to do the same against every team on the schedule-starting next week against the Chargers.

In the words of John Harbaugh: “Any one play makes a difference in a game like that.”

And on Sunday, it almost made an insurmountable difference. In the future, it might.

Hopefully a closer than expected win over the Kansas City Chiefs will be enough to remind the Ravens that any single missed assignment, any single bad read, any single wrong route, any single bad strike of the football, and any single play taken off can completely change the outcome of a football game.

I imagine we’ll find out in San Diego.

-G

4:19-And there it is. Ravens win AND cover in a nailbiter. 38-24 Ravens. Be back with more after Harbaugh and the locker room. Tune into AM1570 for Eric Aaronson’s post-game show, and don’t forget about our “Purple Haze” tonight.

4:17-Andy Studebaker fielded Hauschka’s squib kick, which is nothing more than an excuse for me to say the name “Studebaker.”

4:13-Ravens take a timeout with 36 ticks remaining in this one. Don’t see Steve Hasuchka scampering out to the field, I imagine the play here is nothing more than a Flacco sneak.

I was wrong, it was a McGahee plunge. And just like that, the Ravens are going to cover. That’s pretty funny.

Hauschka’s extra point makes it 38-24. 4 plays, 9 yards, 1:03 on the “drive.”

4:11-If they scored there, or score here……you mean to tell me they can still cover?

You definitely go for it if this play isn’t overturned.

4:09-Le’Ron McClain was ruled to have been stopped inside the 1. They’ll take a look, but I don’t think they’ll overturn it. Don’t have a good angle to look at this.

4:07-Croyle is sacked by Trevor Pryce, who forces a fumble that is recovered by KC. Doesn’t matter, as the Ravens take over. KC has 2 timeouts, so Baltimore will have to score here to finish this off.

4:06-Two incomplete passes later, the Chiefs face a 4th and 18 from their own 13. Here’s the ballgame.

4:04-Call was apparently overturned (here’s the official word that Croyle’s FOREARM was down), and KC will get the ball back with 1:54 to play-2nd and 18 from its own 13.

3:59-This one’s just about over now. Jarret Johnson sacks Brodie Croyle, Croyle fumbles, and Terrell Suggs recovers at the 12 yard line. KC has two timeouts, and the refs will look at it again to make sure it was a fumble. It looked like it was. With 1:54 left the Ravens couldn’t run out the clock, but a first down or a score would end it. First 2 sack game of Jarret Johnson’s career.

3:56-The 43 pass attempts, 307 yards, and 3 TD passes are all career highs for Joe Flacco. The 492 yards of total offense is a team record for the Ravens.

3:54-Ravens try to take a shot at the endzone, but Derrick Mason couldn’t bring in the ball. Leggett on the coverage. 3rd and 8 from the 31.

One play later, the Ravens went RIGHT BACK to the endzone, and Mark Clayton made it count this time. A 31 yard TD toss to Clayton, and Hauschka’s XP makes it 31-24 with 2:06 to play in the game.

8 plays, 74 yards, 3:15 on the TD drive.

3:51-Ray Rice keeps jawing with Brandon Carr even after picking up 9 yards to the KC 35. Rice moved over the century mark with that run, and Le’Ron McClain gives the Ravens another first down one play later. 2:30 to play.

3:49-Mark Clayton runs for 9 yards, and the Ravens get a first down pickup from Le’Ron McClain. They’re in KC territory with 3:30 to play in regulation. Steve Hauschka may well get a chance to make a crucial kick.

3:47-Jameel McClain was on the coverage on the Ryan TD. Not bad coverage, but couldn’t make the play. Ravens right back to work as Flacco finds McGahee out of the backfield, and he scrambles upfield for 14 yards. Ravens at their own 40.

3:45-Croyle to Sean Ryan for the 10 yard TD. Wow. Didn’t look like he got in, but no challenge from the Ravens. Succop’s XP is good, and we’re tied at 24 with 5:21 to play in regulation. Who saw this coming?

6 plays, 80 yards, 2:49 for the Chiefs on the drive.

3:43-If you give a bad team a chance to feel like they belong, they’ll suddenly start to believe they are. Chiefs have the ball in the red zone, and the Ravens need to come with a stop. This game is 4 plays away from being an absolute laugher, but it is instead an absolute nailbiter. Ravens have been late with their rush, including Trevor Pryce on the last play, putting the Chiefs at the Baltimore 10.

3:34-Boy is Ray Rice good in space. He takes the Ravens down to the 1 yard line with a 22 yard scamper off the Flacco pitch. One play later, Le’Ron McClain is in the endzone, and the Ravens are back on top with 8:10 to play in the 4th. Thank God.

Hauschka’s XP makes it 24-17. 9 plays 76 yards 3:47.

3:32-Facing pressure, Flacco goes underneath to Mason for what appears to be a first down at the KC 29 yard line.

3:30-What a game for Todd Heap today. Might be trying to earn #1 on my “Tuesday Top 7″ list. He gives the Ravens a 1st down at the KC 39 yard line.

3:29-Elsewhere, Donovan McNabb left the Eagles-Panthers game with a rib injury, meaning the Michael Vick saga may be even MORE interesting.

Back here, Tavares Gooden has returned to the Ravens sideline, and they have a 1st down at the 37 after a pass to Willis McGahee.

3:25-Succop is GOOD from 53. He was GOING to be the kicker the Ravens went after. Not to rub it in or anything…..

17-17 now. 7 plays, 55 yards, 2:51 for KC.

3:24-One play after a big Ed Reed stop in the backfield, Brodie Croyle throws away a ball that was apparently “intended” for TE Sean Ryan. If they say so. Croyle is incomplete going for Mark Bradley on 3rd down; and Ryan Succop will attempt a FG from 53.

3:22-Two runs later, and the Chiefs face a 3rd and 4 from the 16. They took the shot I thought they would, and Mark Bradley beat Fabian Washington (who had decent coverage) for 50 yards. Chiefs have it at the Baltimore 34.

3:19-Sam Koch puts the Chiefs back at their own 10 yard line to start this drive. Ravens need to stay steady defensively, just not make any particular mistakes. Wouldn’t stun me if Todd Haley tried to put a ball up top. They’ve had no success physically against the Ravens, but they might be able to find something downfield.

3:15-Flacco and the Ravens will face a 3rd and 10 from the KC 41 to open the 4th quarter. Joe Flacco’s day will not be one to marvel over tonight on SportsCenter.

3:13-Brendon Ayanbadejo receiving medical attention on sidelines. No word on what they’re working on with him.

3:12-Just 28 yards on Colquitt’s punt after another defensive stop. Las Vegas could be making money on this one today, as I bet the Ravens try to keep it on the ground the rest of the way. They’ll start at their own 48.

3:07-71,099 here at “The Bank” today. As if we expected something else…..

3:03-Flacco with the soft toss to Heap, who dives into the endzone for the TD. Everybody breathe again. That looked like a Ravens drive.

Hauschka’s XP is good. 11 plays, 64 yards, 4:55. 9 yards from Flacco to Heap and the Ravens are back on top 17-14.

3:01-Tavares Gooden has been taken back to the locker room. Appears to be a knee issue.

2:58-I think the Ravens made a mistake at the beginning of this game by not establishing the run and then opening up the passing attack. By going to the passing attack early, they appeared to get themselves out of rhythm. During that time, a couple big plays the other way have put them behind the 8 ball.

They’re driving now though. A first down toss to Todd Heap was followed by a 16 yard scramble by Willis McGahee. 1st down from the KC 24.

2:55-Did Ian Eagle give my pal Drew Forrester a shout-out on CBS today? Please, details someone.

Dwan Edwards takes the kick and rumbles upfield to the 36. Tavares Gooden is down on the field and had to be helped off.

2:51-An illegal hands to the face penalty on Tavares Gooden gives KC a 1st and goal from the 2. Wow.

One play later, Croyle finds Dwayne Bowe for a TD strike, and the Chiefs now have a 2nd half LEAD. I never thought I’d type those words today.

Succop’s XP makes it 14-10 KC with 8:52 to play in the 3rd quarter. We all must remember that the other team still tries.

2 plays, 6 yards, 5o seconds on the TD “drive.”

2:48-What a disaster. Flacco intercepted by Derrick Johnson, who returns it all the way to the Baltimore 6 yard line (70 yard return), where the Chiefs will take over. This crowd is STUNNED, but trying to rally behind their defense. What a mess this has been.

2:46-According to a few friends (via Facebook), John Harbaugh was not pleased in his halftime interview with Stan White on 98 Rock. He shouldn’t be.

Chris Chester called for a hold on first down, and a Joe Flacco run for 2 yards gives the Ravens 2nd and 18 from the KC 42 yard line.

2:44-Flacco to Washington again for a 1st down. That’s Washington’s 3rd first down catch of the game.

On 2nd and 1, Flacco handed off to McClain to convert the first down. Ravens have it at KC’s 34.

2:42-Every time I see Ryan Succop kick the ball, I am reminded that he was the kicker the Ravens had targeted to sign after the NFL Draft. He became “Mr. Irrelevant”, but Eric DeCosta told us the Ravens were hoping to sign him after the Draft. Would he be better than Steve Hauschka? I don’t know. But that was a hell of a kickoff.

Flacco is NEARLY intercepted by Page on the Ravens’ first drive of the 2nd half. 3rd and 6 from the Ravens’ own 46.

2:26-Instead, they dump it underneath to Jamaal Charles, who is wrapped up after about a 12 yard gain. Strange decision.

Ravens 10, Chiefs 7 at the half. Doubt much of anyone is happy with it. I’ll be back shortly.

2:25-Nothing else cooking for the Chiefs on this drive, but they’ll take a timeout with 1 second left to try to throw a Hail Mary. They’re at the Ravens’ 49 yard line.

2:23-And I’m wrong. Spot stands, and Kansas City will have it at the 41 yard line; where a Jamaal Charles run will provide another first down into Baltimore territory.

No timeouts remain for the Ravens.

2:21-The Ravens decided to challenge the spot of the first down catch; which seems a BIT strange to me. However, it looks like Engram MAY have been a bit short.

2:18-At the 2 minute warning, we finally have the initial first down of the game for the KC offense, thanks to an 11 yard pass to Bobby Engram; who I can honestly say I didn’t realize was with the Chiefs until earlier this week.

As a note, being in a 3 point game with a team who just got their initial first down late in the 2nd half is COMPLETELY unacceptable.

2:10-3rd and 4 from the 23, and Flacco’s pass is deflected again. Hauschka will be out to attempt another FG. As I said, the Ravens should NOT be happy with field goals in the 1st half. Hauschka is wide left on his try; and the name Matt Stover just got WAY more popular in town. That was a 41 yard attempt. 10-7 with 3:49 to play in the half.

2:09-Great through from Flacco to Clayton for 16 and a first down at the KC 29. That was a great play on both sides, really.

2:07-Flacco finds Clayton for a first down at the Chiefs’ 41. Near disaster a play later, as Tamba Hali sacked Flacco (beat Jared Gaither) and forced a fumble. Flacco recovered his own fumble, but lost 4 yards on the play. He’s been in trouble a number of times in the first half. Ray Rice is overthrown on 2nd down; the Ravens face 3rd and 14.

2:04- 3rd and 5 after Flacco gained just one on a scramble. He took a hard hit on his way out from veteran LB Mike Vrabel, but it wasn’t illegal. A delay of game will make it 3rd and 10. The Ravens offense has lost the rhythm they had going early.

There it is again. Flacco to Heap for 17 yards and a first down at the Baltimore 46.

2:02-Chris Carr fields the kickoff return about 6 yards deep in the endzone; stumbles, and still tries to bring it out. BAD decisions on special teams thus far. He takes it to the 19, where the Ravens take over. Flacco finds Rice on a screen, he takes it 10 yards for a first down. He’s much better in space.

2:00-First blocked punt returned for a TD given up by the Ravens since 1998 against the Jaguars. What a brutal special teams effort there.

1:57-The only thing I’ve noticed the Ravens have struggled with so far is getting Ray Rice the ball in space. No bubble or screen routes to their speedy back just yet; just straight handoffs, most of which have been right up the middle. 3rd and 5 after a Rice run and a Mason drop. They tried to throw to Rice, but the Chiefs stayed underneath and allowed him to get just 2 yards. 4th and 3, and the Ravens will have to punt again. Stagnant offense when pinned down deep.

Disaster strikes just a play later. Jon McGraw blocks Sam Koch’s punt and recovers it in the endzone for a TD. And a game that the Ravens have been absolutely DOMINATING is now a 3 point game. Jerry Rosburg will be FUMING.

Ryan Succop’s point after makes it 10-7 Ravens with 9:55 to play in the 2nd quarter.

1:55-First half total yards:

Ravens 106
Chiefs 5

1:54-Tyler Thigpen in at QB for the Chiefs, and he leads them to a 3 and out. Which means he’s about as good as the other guy.

Carr with the fair catch at the 9. You think maybe the Ravens might try to do something on the ground already?

1:50-Flacco’s screen to Clayton is short of a first down; and Sam Koch’s 54 yard bomb is dropped by Maurice Leggett with Matt Lawrence bearing down on him. Leggett recovered his own fumble, and the Chiefs take over at their own 29.

By the way, had Flacco just TAKEN the safety on that previous play instead of the intentional grounding causing the safety; the Ravens would have had a first down there due to the illegal contact. He had no way of knowing that, but it’s an interesting point nonetheless.

1:46-The 2nd quarter opens with Flacco airing out a bomb to Mark Clayton; who fell behind Maurice Leggett and didn’t have the burst to recover.

Joe Flacco’s 1st down run on 3rd down will be negated due to holding, ad the Ravens will face 3rd and 17. Tamba Hali on the pressure. I forgot Tamba Hali existed. Such is Chiefs football.

1:42-Luke Jones also points out that the Ravens had their “safe” team on for that punt, in case of a fake.

Dustin Colquitt has a HELL of a foot. 61 yards on that punt. A penalty will force the Ravens to start from their own 8.

1:38-Brendon Ayanbadejo’s celebration after his tackle of Chiefs KR Quinten Lawrence was MUCH more appropriate than Antwan Barnes’ celebration.

Luke Jones notes that Chris Carr was in at the nickel back spot. This was assumed to be Frank Walker’s spot, but Greg Mattison said this week that the team would be flexible at the position. Expect to see Lardarius Webb there too.

Croyle’s 3rd down pass to Mark Bradley appeared to be good for a first down, but was measured just short. Still no first downs for the Chiefs just yet. Ed Reed back to return the punt.

1:37-Tough start to the Jim Schwartz era in Detroit; as the Saints went up 14-0 in the 1st quarter against the Lions. I made a late Fantasy Football roster change to add Mike Bell, hopefully he puts up big numbers.

1:34-Joe Flacco gets schoolyard on 3rd and goal; and finds Willis McGahee for a 3 yard TD. That was absolutely unfair.

13 plays, 70 yards, 6:44, Hauschka’s extra point makes it 10-0. Rich Dubroff (of the Carroll County Times) reminds me that 7 different Ravens had touches on that drive. Very impressive stuff.

Haloti Ngata was in offensively on 3rd and goal. McGahee’s 40th career TD-only his 2nd receiving TD. Thanks to Press Box PA announcer Gary Stein for the note.

1:30-Flacco goes to the ground for a 1st down at the Chiefs’ 25. 109 yards for the Ravens thus far, -4 for the Chiefs. Nice job by the production staff at CBS.

Flacco tries to find McGahee on 2nd and 8; but the pass was almost picked on a deflection by Jarrod Page.

On 3rd and 8; Flacco fires up the crowd by finding Todd Heap to the 9 yard line. The red zone is a HUGE area for Todd Heap to re-establish himself as a weapon.

1:28-Another first down toss to Kelley Washington, who is proving to be quite the reliable target for Joe Flacco. I know some blogger/reporter/morning show sidekick/producer/dreamboat who was saying that a few weeks ago……

1:27-Rice with his 2nd carry of the game; this time for 4 yards. Ravens show an unbalanced line for the first time today, with Michael Oher moving to the left side. The unbalanced line will ALWAYS be a part of Cam Cameron’s offense, but the Ravens need to show different plays WITH the unbalanced line to make it effective. 3rd and 2.

1:25-A screen to Le’Ron McClain comes back due to a Derrick Mason holding call. The Ravens will now face ANOTHER 1st and 10 from the 30. And Derrick Mason CONTINUES to find space. 13 yard gain, first down at the 43.

1:23-No electricity from Chris Carr just yet in the punt return game. A 57 yard punt from Colquitt is returned just 7 yards, and Joe Flacco takes over at his own 30 yard line. I expect a more balanced drive here.

1:21-VERY hot crowd at M&T Bank Stadium, forcing Brodie Croyle to take Kansas City’s 1st timeout. I’m surprised the Chiefs even tried to find Mark Bradley on 3rd and 15. That play had bad news written all over it. A draw probably would have been a smarter decision.

1:19-Ravens take their second timeout of the first quarter; with 9:06 to play. That’s not good.

1:16-Antwan Barnes with an INSANE celebration after being involved on the tackle of Jamaal Charles at the 25. What the hell was that all about?

Croyle to Charles for a gain of 1 on first down. Getting a first down could be as good as getting a score for KC today. Jarret Johnson with a PUNISHING sack of Croyle on 2nd down-which could have been MUCH more violent. 3rd & 15.

1:13-KC brought heat, and Flacco’s pass to Rice was incomplete. A 44 yard attempt by Steve Hauschka travels through the goal posts, meaning every fan who mumbled “better have Stover’s number ready” before the kick attempt is probably now saying “still should probably have Stover’s number ready.”

9 plays, 54 yards, 3:16 on the drive. Ravens go up 3-0 with 10:19 to play in the 1st quarter.

1:10-Kelley Washington gave the crowd at M&T Bank Stadium his first down dance after his nice leaping catch. Washington is a pretty reserved guy, which makes his antics all the more enjoyable.

Flacco to Mark Clayton on 2nd down for 11 yards to the 24. 5 offensive plays, all designed passes (one ended up being a Flacco run). Make that 6, but this one is ruled out of bounds. Surprised by the aerial attack; but this might just be Cam Cameron trying to catch Clancy Pendergast’s defense off guard. It’s working. Ray Rice finally gets his first carry and is stopped in the backfield, bringing up a 3rd and 12.

1:09-John Harbaugh takes his first timeout; you wonder if he’s thinking about a challenge. I don’t think he could get the call overturned though.

1:07-Kelley Washington with a GREAT catch for 22 yards, as the Ravens have run 3 pass plays on their first 3 plays from scrimmage. Mason APPEARED to have hauled in a TD pass on the next play in the back of the endzone, but it was ruled incomplete. The replay in the box appeared inconclusive.

1:06-Great protection from the O-Line on first down gives Joe Flacco all day to throw. The Ravens are throwing again on 2nd down, with Flacco hitting Derrick Mason for 19 yards to the Ravens’ 43.

1:04-Kansas City trying to make it work on the ground early (which is their only hope, really), and Ray Lewis with a stop in the backfield on Larry Johnson’s 2nd down rush. Terrell Suggs deflects Croyle’s 3rd and 9 pass; and the Chiefs will have to punt. They tried to go to a no huddle on the first drive, but it didn’t appear to help.

Dustin Colquitt’s with a decent punt, and combined with a Domonique Foxworth hold; the Ravens will start from their own 20.

1:02-Jamaal Charles returns Steve Hauschka’s opening ick to the 26 yard line; and football is now OFFICIALLY back in Baltimore.

1:01-Today’s game is on CBS (WJZ 13 locally) with Ian Eagle and former Raiders QB Rich Gannon on the call.

1:00-A flyover during today’s Star Spangled Banner excited the crowd. Ravens win coin flip, elect to defer to 2nd half; putting the defense out on the field first to go after Brodie Croyle.

12:54-Some hand gestures from Tavares Gooden as he dances out onto the field for the first time as a starter in a regular season game here at “The Bank.”

As a reminder, I picked the Ravens over KC 24-7 today. Anybody else already go out on a limb?

12:38-Does Michael Phelps still count as a celebrity sighting? He’s here, rocking his Ed Reed jersey on the sideline. Winning 14 gold medals really helps you get where you want to go.

12:09-Tyler Thigpen is backing up Brodie Croyle today; Matt Gutierrez is the emergency 3rd QB. Matt Cassel will not play no matter what.

This kinda makes me think that Todd Haley is treating today’s game as a bit of a “lost cause”, as Cassel looked okay in warmups; or that Scott Pioli said something along the lines of “we didn’t pay this guy a boatload of money to put him in serious danger.”

The Ravens will wear their white tops and black pants today.

12:04-This means the Ravens are dressing just 7 Offensive Linemen; with Marshal Yanda and David Hale the only reserves. Should Jared Gaither get hurt, Michael Oher would have to slide to the left side, and Marshal Yanda would have to move to the Right Tackle position. Remember, Marshal Yanda is battling a knee injury that will put Chris Chester in the starting lineup today.

Paul Kruger is also a bit of a surprise scratch. This could be nothing more than a numbers issue; as there has been no reason to think Kruger has been battling any injury issues.

12:01-Chiefs inactives:

QB Matt Cassel
QB Matt Gutierrez
CB Brandon Flowers
RB Dantrell Savage
OL Andy Alleman
TE Jake O’Connell
LB Turk McBride
LB Pierre Walters

11:59-Ravens inactives:

QB John Beck
RB Jalen Parmele
LB Dannell Ellerbe
OT Oniel Cousins
OL Tony Moll
TE LJ Smith
DT Brandon McKinney
LB/DE Paul Kruger

11:43-Adam Schefter (of ESPN) via Twitter…..”Ummm…..Brodie Croyle is 0-8 as an NFL starting QB.”

HILARIOUS.

You can follow Luke Jones on Twitter during today’s Ravens-Chiefs game. Just follow @WNST.

11:40-We can confirm that Matt Cassel is inactive today. More inactives coming shortly. Brodie Croyle expected to start.

11:34-There is a rumor floating around that Matt Cassel will be inactive today. From a Chiefs PR staffer: “I can neither confirm nor deny.”

11:15-The Ravens are 1-3 all-time against the Chiefs, but won the most recent match-up in 2006; 20-10 at Arrowhead Stadium en route to an AFC North division crown. The Chiefs’ 3 wins in the series ALL came here at M&T Bank Stadium, by scores of 35-8 (1999), 17-10 (2003) and 27-24 (2004). The 2003 game was the game where Dante Hall returned a kick 97 yards for the game winning TD. This was especially frustrating because Adalius Thomas had been called offsides on the first kickoff try, giving “The X Factor” a 2nd chance. Thanks to the Ravens Media Relations department for jogging my memory of that.

The Ravens are 5-8 all-time in season openers (including some infuriating losses to the likes of the Rams, Bengals, and Panthers); 3-3 all-time when their Week 1 game has been here in Charm City.

11:03-The Ravens enter the first game of the regular season coming off a preseason in which they finished 4-0 and looked particularly strong when their first team was on the field. The Chiefs? Things weren’t quite as good for them. They finished 0-4 in the preseason and scored 13 points or fewer in all 4 games.

The Chiefs are playing the first game of Todd Haley’s head coaching tenure, after he lead the Arizona Cardinals offense to the Super Bowl a season ago. Today is also the LIKELY first game for Matt Cassel as QB of the Chiefs after he lead the Patriots to 10 wins following Tom Brady’s Week 1 injury a season ago. Cassel is questionable for today’s game with a left knee injury, but did practice this week.

The Ravens open their season following a 2008 campaign that took them all the way to the AFC Championship Game. John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco know a thing or two about how Haley and Cassel may be feeling right now; as they were in a first year coach/first year QB situation going into Week 1 last season. Harbaugh and Flacco didn’t need long to get things going, as they beat Cincinnati 17-10 in their first game together.

10:57-Greetings from the press box at M&T Bank Stadium here in beautiful downtown Baltimore, where the Ravens open their 2009 campaign against the Kansas City Chiefs.

A news note before I get into a game preview: The Ravens will honor the late Steve McNair before today’s game with a moment of silence, scheduled for 12:57. Kickoff is set for 1:02.

-G

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