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Old 01-10-2011, 02:54 AM  
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Teicher: Chiefs can’t fly with Ravens in 30-7 playoff loss

Chiefs can’t fly with Ravens in 30-7 playoff loss
By ADAM TEICHER
The Kansas City Star

The sting of playoff disappointment was beyond anything the Chiefs could imagine. After three miserable seasons, they climbed back onto the postseason stage but were never able to seriously threaten the Baltimore Ravens.

They were in no mood to contemplate what was obvious from their 30-7 first-round playoff loss to Baltimore on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium: Even on their best day, the Chiefs wouldn’t have been able to compete with the Ravens.

“I can’t answer that question,” Chiefs running back Thomas Jones said. “Baltimore played a great game.”

The Chiefs were willing to blame a lot of factors, including a season-high five turnovers and their inability to get the Baltimore offense off the field in key situations.

The truth is that they never had a chance. They were overwhelmed by one of the league’s better teams. Baltimore dominated time of possession and ran 78 plays to the Chiefs’ 40.

The Chiefs couldn’t handle Baltimore’s physical defense, were eventually steamrolled by the Ravens’ pass rush and never pressured Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco into making any mistakes.

It was a bad time for the Chiefs to play a bad game, but they’ve played similarly against lesser opponents several times over the season’s last half. Together, those games illustrate just how far the Chiefs have to go until they even the playing field against the league’s better teams.

Things were so bad in the second half the Ravens were toying with the Chiefs. Baltimore had a 15-play, 80-yard drive in the fourth quarter when the verdict had long been turned in. Terrell Suggs, Willis McGahee and Josh Wilson took turns showboating for the dwindling crowd of Chiefs fans.

Chiefs coach Todd Haley tried to argue with the notion, but his heart didn’t seem in it.

“That’s not fair for me to say,” Haley said. “The score would indicate we got dominated and it is what it is, but at the same time I think our guys understand we need to go out and do things more efficiently in the future against a team like that, an experienced team that has played in a bunch of these games.

“If we’d had, there’s no way for me to say how the game would have went, but I know we would have felt a little better about ourselves.”

The Chiefs, who won 10 games over the previous three seasons, had a dramatic turnaround this season, winning 10 games and their first AFC West championship in seven years. But some of that unraveled over the final two games.

They were blown out at home in the previous week’s game against Oakland and now take two such games into their offseason preparations.

Even though the Ravens were dominating the game, the Chiefs found a way to take a 7-3 lead in the second quarter on the strength of a Tamba Hali sack-and-strip and a 41-yard Jamaal Charles touchdown run.

They were on the move again, having crossed the 50-yard line and threatening to extend their lead. But Charles fumbled, the Ravens recovered, and the Chiefs were never a factor after that.

“We had an early turnover that was killer because we had the lead and we were moving across the 50, I believe,” Haley said. “We moved into their territory, and we turned the ball over. I don’t think points came out of it, but that’s just a momentum-changer. If you get points there, now you put yourself in a position where you can succeed.”

“We just did too many things that get you beat. We were doing some good things. The game was going about the way playoff games go.”

The Ravens hounded quarterback Matt Cassel into a second straight miserable game. He was sacked three times and intercepted three times, but he wasn’t willing to concede Baltimore was too good for the Chiefs.

“I don’t feel they’re such a superior team to us that we didn’t have an opportunity in this game,” he said. “We go into half (losing) 10-7 and the game’s in reach. In the second half, just a lot of bad football on our part.”

The Ravens had something to do with that. They played five road playoff games over the previous two seasons, winning three. So a trip to Arrowhead was no big thing for Baltimore.

That’s just one more advantage the Ravens had over the Chiefs.

“Hindsight is 20-20. Looking back on it, no,” safety Jon McGraw said when asked whether in retrospect it was fair to expect the Chiefs to compete with a more talented, more experienced team.

“We have to realize this is a young football team and we still have a lot of growing to do. But midway through the third quarter it looked that way. It looked like it was going to be a tight ballgame.

“On our best day, we could play with anybody. Today obviously wasn’t that.”
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