Key play: Chiefs safety Tyvon Branch recovered a fumble and ran 73 yards for a touchdown that gave the Chiefs a 14-7 lead.
Key stat: Branch’s score was the Chiefs’ fifth defensive touchdown of the season.
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Key play: Ravens receiver Kamar Aiken hauled in a 48-yard touchdown on a Hail Mary and cut the Chiefs’ halftime lead to 10 points.
Key stat: The Ravens were only two of seven on third downs, a trend that continued throughout the game.
Key play: During a quiet quarter, Ravens guard Marshal Yanda’s illegal crackback thwarted a potential scoring drive and led to yet another punt.
Key stat: The Ravens were on their way to outgaining the Chiefs 366-277.
Key play: Marcus Peters’ pick-six of Ravens quarterback Jimmy Clausen gave the Chiefs a 34-14 advantage.
Key stat: Peters’ score was the Chiefs’ sixth defensive touchdown this season.
The Chiefs’ running game was not overwhelming, but that was to be expected against a solid Ravens run defense. But the Chiefs still got the job done by banging out 113 yards in 28 attempts, an average of 4.0 yards per carry. Bonus points to the Chiefs for winning without running back Spencer Ware, the thunder to Charcandrick West’s lightning in the backfield.
The Chiefs were good here, but not great. There are some quibbles to be made about the play calling in the second half, perhaps, but that doesn’t affect how efficient Alex Smith was on a day in which he completed 21 of 25 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown. He primarily stuck to screens and short passes, while taking the occasional intermediate throw. It was good enough to win, and so was the protection, despite three sacks allowed.
The Chiefs surrendered 93 yards in 20 carries, an average of 4.7 yards — which isn’t good. But the Chiefs get bonus points for forcing a fumble that resulted in a score. Also, the Ravens only had 57 rushing yards after the first quarter, which is pretty solid.
Ravens quarterback Jimmy Clausen completed only 25 of 46 passes and was picked off twice by rookie corner Marcus Peters, including once for a pick-six. But the Chiefs still surrendered 281 passing yards, and the fact they allowed that Hail Mary touchdown at the end of the first half is more than enough to bump this down a grade.
There were zero hiccups in the kicking game. Kicker Cairo Santos drilled both his field-goal attempts and snapper James Winchester didn’t have any errant snaps. Punter Dustin Colquitt also dropped three of his five punts inside the 20. But the Chiefs didn’t get much out of their return teams — Frankie Hammond actually lost 10 yards on one return— and they did surrender a 39-yard kick return. So again, good — not great.
After jumping out to a 24-7 lead, the Chiefs’ offensive play calling appeared to be pretty vanilla, with lots of draws and screens and packaged plays. But they did drain time from the clock, and the approach ultimately worked. The defensive play calling was solid enough, and Clausen couldn’t take advantage of the holes in the defense.
Player of the game: Cornerback Marcus Peters nabbed two interceptions, including a pick-six, giving him a team-high seven this season. Peters also finished the game with four pass deflections and three tackles.
Reason to hope: The Chiefs won their eighth straight game, and they did it by using a formula that wins in the playoffs — protect the ball, play good defense and be opportunistic.
Reason to mope: The offense functions at its best when Spencer Ware mixes in to form a strong combo with Charcandrick West. Without him, the offense wasn’t exactly dynamic Sunday, though some of that may have been a function of the play calling based on the opponent.
Looking ahead: The Chiefs’ last two games are at home against two sub-.500 teams in Cleveland, 3-11, and Oakland, 6-8. They have a legitimate chance to finish this season on a 10-game winning streak.
Terez A. Paylor, firstname.lastname@example.org