Ravens center Matt Birk was a huge part of the Ravens’ offensive workload on Sunday in the Ravens 30-3 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on the road in the Wild Card opening round, and he joined Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” to diagnose what the key to victory was over the AFC West champs.
Birk did mention the fact that the Ravens took the momentum out of the game for the Chiefs in the third quarter ,when they forced three Chiefs turnovers, turning a 10-7 Ravens lead into a good, old-fashioned Baltimore beatdown, but ultimately Birk said the offense did its’ part in helping the defense by keeping them fresh.
The Ravens got 13 points in the quarter off Chiefs turnovers or changes of possession, and went into the fourth and final quarter with a little room to work with, up 23-7.
The Ravens offense held the ball for nearly 42 minutes on Sunday, beating the Chiefs at their own game and forcing Matt Cassel to try and beat them as opposed to Jamaal Charles, who was having a field day against the Ravens defense in the first half.
Birk said that was the key in stopping the Chiefs was getting them out of their rhythm, which ultimately forced them to make mistakes.
And on top of tiring out the Chiefs defense while keeping their own fresh, that was another added benefit.
“The longer you stay out there offensively,” Birk said, “the more you can wear a defense down. [We] chipped away, chipped away, and eventually took the crowd out of it and blew the game open in the fourth quarter.”
Eventually the Ravens were able to do one better and take the hostile crowd of Arrowhead Stadium out of the picture as well.
The play that did it in Birk’s mind? The play that emptied the seats at Arrowhead?
McGahee’s 25 yard touchdown run on 4th and 1 finished a drive where the Ravens ate up nearly ten and a half minutes of game clock and ultimately was the dagger that went in the Chiefs’ chest. It turned a two-possession game(with several two-point conversions) into a game well out of reach and punched the Ravens’ playoff tickets to Pittsburgh.
“When Willis broke that run, that was nice cause it was 4th and 1. We were trying to run the game down and run the clock down. Everybody knows the inconsistencies we have had in the running game this year and the lack of big runs.”
Birk-like his other fellow teammates, Ravens fans, and the media alike-all had a ton of credit to throw the way of Ravens tight end Todd Heap, who became the first-ever Ravens player to top 100-yard receiving in a playoff game.
“Todd’s a great player and Todd gets open a lot,” Birk said. “When you have multiple weapons, you have to see who the defense is going to take away from you and who they are going to gamble with. If they are gambling with Todd Heap, then I like our chances.”
The team now moves on to Heinz Field Saturday in the AFC Divisional matchup against their AFC North rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The two teams split their series this year with the Ravens winning 17-14 in Pittsburgh in Week 4 and the Steelers stealing a win in Baltimore, 13-10, in Week 13.
As linebacker Terrell Suggs said in his postgame press conference, this is how the whole world wanted it to be. The Steelers versus the Ravens, and the Jets versus the Patriots.
“This is a great rivalry,” Birk said of their hatred/respect for the Steelers, “probably the best one in the NFL right now considering what has happened the past few years.”
“I’m sure it’s going to be a heck of an atmosphere and a heck of a game.”
It’s Steeler week here in Baltimore and WNST has you covered! Continue to follow WNST this week as we track the Ravens as they prepare for Pittsburgh! We’re even going up there to watch the battle! Just go to www.wnst.net and click on the TRIPS tab and you can go up with us! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!