Rookie Ramik Wilson makes big play in starting debut, defense comes up short at end

Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Ramik Wilson recovered a fumble by Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and scored a touchdown on Sunday.
Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Ramik Wilson recovered a fumble by Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and scored a touchdown on Sunday.

Chiefs inside linebacker Ramik Wilson had five touchdowns as a tight end during his senior season at Jefferson High in Tampa, Fla., in 2010.

That also was the last time he’d visited the end zone before the first quarter of Sunday’s 18-17 loss against the Chicago Bears.

Wilson, a rookie fourth-round draft pick from Georgia, was making his first start in place of injured Josh Mauga and found himself in the right place at the right time midway through the first quarter.

Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler backpedaled a few steps into his own end zone after receiving a shotgun snap. Then he was swarmed and overrun by Chiefs defensive tackles Jaye Howard, who was credited with the sack, and Allen Bailey, who stripped the ball from Cutler’s clutches as he went to the ground.

An alert Wilson, who was coming on a blitz, dived on the ball for the Chiefs’ second defensive touchdown of the season.

“I was ready to go celebrate with big Bailey and Jaye,” Wilson said. “They did a helluva job to get the sack — sack, ball out. That’s what running to the ball will do.”

He’d have rather the big play came in a victory.

“You’ve got to finish,” said Wilson, who was more comfortable following extended action against the Bengals after Mauga’s injury. “You’ve got to make plays when they matter most. We didn’t do that. When it comes down to it, we’ve got to make the plays and step up — make the big stop, make the big play, make the big turnover, all that. … We didn’t make the stops when it mattered the most.”

Wilson still appreciated his first career NFL start, which also included four tackles.

“He played great,” Howard said. “He’s got to keep building off of that and getting better each week, but it was good.”

Howard did have one criticism of Wilson’s performance, specifically the touchdown.

“It should have been mine if I’d have paid more attention to the ball instead of celebrating,” Howard said.

After failing to record so much as a hit (forget about a hurry or a sack) last week against Andy Dalton, the Chiefs’ pass rush made its presence felt against Cutler and the Bears.

Bailey registered the Chiefs’ second sack early in the fourth quarter. He and Howard combined for 13 tackles, including three for a loss, with two quarterback hurries.

“We had to, man; we preached all week that we’ve got to get to the quarterback, disrupt him and get him off his game, make him step up,” Howard said. “We did a good job today, but we just came up short.”

Linebacker Derrick Johnson also had a quarterback hurry, but that pressure disappeared on the Bears’ final two drives as victory slipped from the Chiefs’ grasp.

On Cutler’s game-winning touchdown with 18 seconds remaining, Howard was at his feet — inches away from a possible game-saving sack.

“I was stumbling and I saw his feet, so I tried to go at his feet,” Howard said. “But, by that time, he’d already gotten the ball off.”

That image, Howard crawling in vain toward Cutler — who dropped the snap, picked it up and fired a 7-yard touchdown strike to Matt Forte that gutted the Chiefs’ contingent in the crowd of 75,799 — served as a fitting one.

“Every loss hurts, but this one definitely hurt more, because I felt like we had a chance to get this one done today,” Howard said. “We came up short.”

Tod Palmer: 816-234-4389, @todpalmer