NFL Playoffs Recap: Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens Dominate Kansas City Chiefs
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For the most part, the Ravens did what I expected them to do in Kansas City against the Chiefs.
By beating the Chiefs 30-7, they orchestrated what has become a recent theme: Domination of a playoff team on its home turf.
Imagine if they played against the Seahawks in Seattle. An unbeatable visiting team against an unbeatable home team; something would have to give.
After giving up nearly 100 yards of rushing to the Chiefs in the first half (including 87 to Jamaal Charles), the Ravens' defense did its part in the victory: They forced five Kansas City turnovers, including three interceptions off Matt Cassel.
And as any NFL head coach will tell you, it's hard to win a game—especially a playoff game—when you lose the turnover battle (the Ravens turned the ball over only twice).
But there was one unexpected element to the Ravens' victory: Joe Flacco leading the offense. Typically a running team, Baltimore relied on Flacco's arm for its offensive productivity.
Flacco finished the game completing 25-of-34 passing attempts for 265 yards and two touchdowns. His top receiver was Todd Heap, who caught 10 passes for 108 yards.
At one point in the third quarter, Flacco was the Ravens' leading rusher with 28 yards.
He finished third behind 57 yards by Ray Rice and 44 by Willis McGahee. Nevertheless, Flacco's ability to carry the offense has to be an encouraging sign for Baltimore as they prepare to face one of the best defenses in the NFL in the Pittsburgh Steelers.
On one of the Ravens' scoring drives, they were aided by a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on the Chiefs' defense.
The penalty occurred because a Chiefs defender landed on Flacco's right knee after the ball was thrown. It wasn't even a low hit; the defender barely touched Flacco's knee.
That was not a bad call, but a correct interpretation of a bad rule: A defenseless quarterback cannot be hit below the waist after he has thrown the ball. The rule was put in place after the 2008 season, the one in which Tom Brady suffered a season-ending injury as a result of a low hit in Week 1.
When that rule came out, one of its biggest critics was Ray Lewis. No doubt, he would have had something to say about the penalty if it didn't work in his team's favor.
It wouldn't have made much of a difference in the outcome of the game, but it is ironic that such a penalty worked in favor of one of its most feared critics.
This article, along with recaps of the three other Wild Card games from this weekend, can be seen on Drew Rosten's Sports Thread at http://drewrosten.blogspot.com/.
I was 2-2 in my predictions this week. Check out the Sports Thread to see which games I picked correctly and incorrectly. Also on the Sports Thread is the scheduled times, TV channels and spreads for next week's Divisional Round action.
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