With game on the line, defense controls one of the league's best

ON THE RAVENS

Ravens 20 Chiefs 10

Ravens Gameday

December 11, 2006|By MIKE PRESTON

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — KANSAS CITY, Mo.-- --Running back Larry Johnson had 120 yards rushing and the Kansas City Chiefs had almost 300 yards of total offense, but the Ravens' defensive line thoroughly whipped possibly the best offensive line in the league yesterday in a 20-10 victory at Arrowhead Stadium.

The game wasn't as close as the score indicates. Johnson never got into a rhythm where he could control the game. In fact, if he hadn't broken off a 47-yard run, he would have been a non-factor. The Chiefs were without right offensive tackle Kyle Turley, who would have made a significant impact, but that's life in the NFL.

The bottom line is that the Ravens controlled guards Brian Waters and Will Shields and center Casey Wiegmann. Together, that trio has given the Chiefs one of the best offensive lines in the league the past five years. But for 60 minutes yesterday, the Ravens made them disappear.

"Eleven guys to the football," said Ravens defensive end/outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who had nine tackles. "We just wanted to crowd the ball. If one guy missed, we had more guys coming, and we played that way against a very good offensive line."

The Ravens did to Johnson what other teams have done to the Ravens when they have stopped running back Jamal Lewis. Lewis and Johnson have cutback styles, but Lewis stutter-steps and then picks his backside hole. Johnson actually stops, then hops to the backside. The key is for the play-side linemen to get penetration or hold their gaps while the backside has to come upfield, but not collapse down or get cut.

Kansas City offensive tackle John Welbourn, filling in for Turley, couldn't handle Ravens defensive end Trevor Pryce. Tackles Haloti Ngata, Aubrayo Franklin and Kelly Gregg gave little ground.

In a fight the Ravens had to win to win the game, this was a TKO.

Not Green's day

Chiefs quarterback Trent Green has been in the league for 13 years, but sometimes you wonder. He had two interceptions in the second quarter, one that halted a drive and one that led to a Ravens field goal.

"I really don't want to [talk about] that," Green said after the game.

Fine, but we will. You stank. Both interceptions were the result of his holding the ball too long, then throwing it across the middle, of all places. He has virtually no mobility, and the Ravens sacked him five times, twice with one hand.

Both interceptions were made by Ravens safety Ed Reed, who was desperate to make a big play this season. Note to Reed: This is what happens when you play your position and don't try to force things and get out of control. Stick with the program, buddy.

Rest is best for Ravens

The NFL continues to be unpredictable. Yesterday, Jacksonville routed Indianapolis and Miami shut out New England. If the Ravens get a first-round bye in the playoffs, they'll probably get to the AFC championship game. This team has a lot of veterans, and they usually play well once they get their rest and a dose of Geritol.

They looked awful going into the bye week, and played well against the Saints when they came back. They threw in the towel against Cincinnati on Nov. 30, but played well yesterday. The Ravens need a rest every six or seven games, and then they're tough to beat.

No bashing Billick

Poor Brian Billick. He almost made it through the year without using "you all" when referring to the media. He became sensitive because some of the media had suggested he shouldn't have given the Ravens off five days after the Cincinnati loss.

OK, we'll stroke his ego and tell him it was a good move. The bad move was giving them a day off two days before they played the Bengals. But now that the Ravens are 10-3, Billick seems to have become a genius again. If he isn't careful, we might have to start those sensitivity classes from last offseason all over again.

Now, about that offense ...

Here are a couple of questions about the Ravens' play-calling:

Why do they call play-action passes on third-and-six or third-and-seven when everyone knows they're going to pass? Why not just drop back and throw the darn ball?

On third-and-eight or -nine, why do the Ravens continue to run patterns at least 2 yards short of the first-down marker?

Why is Lewis in the slot when everyone knows he has hands of stone? Why not put in backup running back Mike Anderson?

Hmmm. Where is Jim Fassel when you need him?

K.C. pretenders

This is the time of the season when the contenders separate themselves from the pretenders, and the Chiefs are no contenders. Playing at home, they had six penalties for 35 yards and committed three turnovers. Their clock management at the end of the second quarter was pathetic, and if not for a roughing the kicker penalty, the Ravens might have had another chance to score in the closing seconds of the half.

The Chiefs need a wide receiver. They have a great running back, offensive line and tight end, but receivers Samie Parker and old, tired Eddie Kennison don't scare a soul.

Now, that's sneaky

The Ravens seem to have found the perfect short-yardage play. Before yesterday, they were 8-for-14 on third-and-one or fourth-and-one plays. Three times yesterday, they converted in similar situations by running a quarterback sneak instead of running the usual Lewis to the left side.

What creativity! mike.preston@baltsun.com

Read Mike Preston's Ravens Central blog at baltimoresun.com/ravenscentral

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