Chiefs' Cunningham, Hasty talked before game about picking off Case

K.C. coach told cornerback to prepare to intercept one of QB's sideline passes

October 22, 1999|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

It was a laugher for the Kansas City Chiefs in more ways than one last night.

Coach Gunther Cunningham said he talked to James Hasty before the game about picking off a Stoney Case sideline pass because the Tennessee Titans almost intercepted the same pass 10 days ago, and he figured the Ravens would eventually throw it again.

"He started laughing coming off the field," Cunningham said after Hasty stepped in front of Justin Armour to make the interception and run 56 yards for a touchdown.

It gave the Chiefs a 14-0 third-quarter lead, and they went to beat the Ravens, 35-8.

"I knew he was due to make a big play sooner or later. And he did," Cunningham said. It was Hasty's second interception of the night.

Hasty said, "We knew that they had some tendencies on second and short and third and short. We just banked on those tendencies and played ball."

It was even a lucky night for the Chiefs.

Cunningham said he saw a penny on the sidelines face up just before Hasty's second interception. He picked it up because he figured that was good luck.

Pulling it out of his pocket, he said, "I wouldn't have picked it up if it had been tails down."

Once they got the lead, the Chiefs played what Cunningham called "beat 'em up football."

They had only 32 yards rushing in the first half and 59 yards for three quarters, but they finished with 112 as former Raven Bam Morris led the way with 70 yards on 16 carries. The Chiefs, who ran 35 times, are 75-5 in this decade when they run 30 times or more.

Cunningham said, "At halftime as I walked into the locker room, I said to [offensive coordinator] Jimmy [Raye], `Keep on running, they are dying.' What we do is keep the ball real tight. It's really smash-mouth football."

Morris said, "You've just got to keep banging. When you get in the fourth quarter when those guys get tired and you see it in their eyes, it's sweet to watch because you can just see it part like the Red Sea."

Morris said he enjoyed doing it in his return to Baltimore.

"It was a great feeling to come in because I've been hearing how Marv Lewis [Ravens' defensive coordinator] was talking all week how they were going to stop me," he said.

In retrospect, the Ravens couldn't have picked a worse time to play K.C. The Chiefs wanted to win on the road (they were 3-16-1 on the road against the AFC Central and East the past 10 years), and they wanted to win on national TV after their meltdown against Denver on Monday night last year.

"I knew it was coming," Cunningham said. "They are really on a mission. One of our war cries tonight was to get our respect back, and it was on national TV, and we were going to get our respect back. We lost it a year ago, and we tried to regain it tonight. I think we made great strides."

Cunningham said he knew the way the team practiced this week that they were ready to play.

He said backup quarterback Warren Moon approached him earlier in the week and asked, "Gun, are you all right?"

Cunningham said, "I'm a little tired. I overworked myself during the bye week, but the real issue is I'm really upset."

When Moon said, "What are you mad about, we practiced great," Cunningham answered, "That's the problem. I don't get to yell."

He didn't have to yell last night. All he had to do was pick up his lucky penny.

NOTE: Cunningham praised the Ravens for having a "championship" defense and said coach Brian Billick doesn't have a full deck on offense.

"That's not him. He's playing a little bit left-handed. I know what he wants to do, and he's probably real frustrated," he said.

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