Each week, Baltimore Sun reporters Aaron Wilson and Matt Vensel will look back at the Ravens' previous game and that of their next opponent.
Ravens 9, Chiefs 6
Strategy: The trend of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron reducing usage of the no-huddle in noisy road venues continued at Arrowhead Stadium. The Ravens used the no-huddle on 13 of 55 plays. Production dipped to 298 yards, and the offense converted just three of 11 third downs. Dean Pees' halftime adjustment of shifting the defensive line wider and walking up the linebackers likely prevented a defeat after the Ravens were gashed by Jamaal Charles in the first half. Single coverage was the primary scheme against Dwayne Bowe, and it worked solidly with cornerbacks Cary Williams and Lardarius Webb each intercepting passes when targeted.
Personnel: Bullish fullback Vonta Leach's physical presence on 31 total plays with 18 runs translated into big holes for Ray Rice to rumble through for 102 yards on 17 carries primarily out of the I formation. Rice played 86 percent of the snaps. Tight end Ed Dickson started, playing 37 snaps, eight more than Dennis Pitta. Linebacker Jameel McClain's playing time increased against the run-first attack with 48 snaps to Dannell Ellerbe's 23. Nose guards Ma'ake Kemoeatu (39 plays) and Terrence Cody (21 plays) rotated. Paul Kruger's role expanded to 57 snaps even though Albert McClellan (21 snaps) started opposite rookie outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw (58 plays).
What went right: Rice's open-field skills and leg drive kept the Chiefs honest. Anquan Boldin played through a leg issue and had four catches for 82 yards, including a season-long 43-yarder. Joe Flacco's critical 16-yard scramble showed awareness and foot speed. Bernard Pollard was a more active tackling presence. With three tackles for loss, this was Kruger's top game as a run-stopper. Pernell McPhee had a strong second half. Charles gained only 15 rushing yards in the second half. Upshaw fought through a double team for a fumble recovery, his biggest play yet as a rookie. Haloti Ngata knocked a struggling Matt Cassel out of the game with a devastating hit.
What went wrong: Michael Oher and Kelechi Osemele allowed four sacks and eight quarterback pressures to edge rushers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Flacco had a substandard game, failing to create a rhythm as he completed seven of his first 17 attempts for 64 yards. Flacco stared down Boldin, his first read, on a sideline interception. The receivers failed again to defeat press coverage consistently. The defense was exposed on the zone-stretch play as Charles piled up 125 yards before halftime. Except for Ray Lewis' thudding tackle of Cyrus Gray, it was a long day for him. He got stuck to blocks and was spun around completely as he tried in vain to corral Charles.
Turning point: A botched center-quarterback exchange on a red-zone quarterback sneak by Cassel spelled doom for the Chiefs. Ed Reed alertly pounced on the fumble, leading to the go-ahead field goal by rookie kicker Justin Tucker to complete a 10-point swing.
X-factor: With Dallas Cowboys star pass rusher DeMarcus Ware looming, the Ravens have to shore up pass-blocking issues with chip-blocking assistance for Oher. Anthony Spencer is no slouch, so a maximum-protection scheme could be necessary.
- Ravens Q&A with Mike Preston
- Tale of the tape: Joe Flacco's game-sealing scramble
- Film study: Looking back at the Cowboys loss to the Bears
- Preston grades the Ravens' win over the Kansas City Chiefs
- Five Things We Learned from the Ravens' 9-6 win over the Kansas City Chiefs
- 2013 Ravens cheerleaders [Pictures]
See more photos »