KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Coach Todd Haley warned his youthful Kansas City Chiefs that Baltimore’s defense would be the best they’d see all year.
He was right.
Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and the rest of the battle-tested Ravens rattled the Chiefs into five turnovers and held their offense to 25 yards in the second half in a 30-7 playoff victory Sunday.
Joe Flacco threw two touchdown passes and Billy Cundiff kicked three field goals as the offense pounced on the scoring chances created by the Ravens’ smothering, veteran defense.
Baltimore (13-4) broke open a close game with a touchdown and two field goals off turnovers in the second half. Kansas City (10-7), which set a club record with a six-game improvement to win the AFC West, now go into the NFL record book as the only team to lose seven postseason games in a row.
The Ravens also shook off the family tragedy that Reed has dealt with since Friday morning, when the Pro Bowl safety’s brother apparently disappeared into the Mississippi River.
After the game, Reed was presented with the game ball. Reed called his teammates his second family whose support is helping him get through this ordeal.
“Just being there for strength, respect for what’s going on,” Reed said. “They just gave me the team ball for my family.”
Reed said his family wanted him to play.
“My family kept me focused. My older brother called me and told me, ‘Do what you do. You handle your business, we’ll take care of everything over here.'”
Baltimore will hit the road again to play AFC North rival Pittsburgh on Saturday in the third matchup against the Steelers this season. The bitter rivals split their seasons series, with each winning on the other’s home field.
The Ravens led only 10-7 in the third quarter when Kansas City lost a fourth-and-inches gamble and then collapsed, quickly.
Dawan Landry stopped the play, throwing Jamaal Charles for a 5-yard loss. On the next play, Tamba Hali drew a 15-yard penalty for a late hit on Flacco and the Ravens drove in for Cundiff’s 29-yard field goal, making it 13-7 with 6:36 left in the third.
A moment later, Lewis put a jarring hit on Dexter McCluster, knocking the ball loose. Chris Carr recovered on the Kansas City 17, leading to another 29-yarder by Cundiff.
Then, a harried Cassel was intercepted by Landry, who angled left to the 21. An illegal block call on Baltimore’s Cody Redding pushed the Ravens back 10 yards, but Flacco made sure to convert this opportunity into a touchdown.
On second down, he connected with Willis McGahee for 20 yards, then followed with a 13-yard completion to tight end Todd Heap, who had 10 catches for 108 yards. On second-and-4, Flacco fired it over the middle to Anquan Boldin in the back of the end zone, beating cornerback Brandon Flowers and giving the Ravens a 23-7 lead.
“We turned the ball over and that’s not characteristic of us,” Pro Bowl left guard Brian Waters said. “When we had to make plays, we weren’t able to. When they had to make plays, they did. You can’t turn the ball over.”
With a little more than four minutes left in the game, McGahee went over the middle on fourth-and-1 and broke into the secondary, dragging a tackler with him into the end zone at the end of a 25-yard run.
Charles gave the Chiefs a 7-3 lead in the first quarter with a 41-yard scoring run after Tamba Hali sacked and stripped the ball from Flacco, recovering it himself.
The Chiefs’ postseason drought stretches to the AFC championship game at Buffalo in January of 1994. The losing streak includes four different coaches.