— Free safety Ed Reed was fairly certain what was about to happen when Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel lined up under center at the Ravens' 1-yard line on the opening drive of the third quarter.
Anticipating a quarterback sneak, Reed pounced on the fumbled exchange between center Ryan Lilja and Cassel and advanced the recovery out of the end zone to the Ravens' 12-yard line.
It was a turning point in the Ravens' 9-6 victory Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, triggering a 10-point swing with the Chiefs not scoring a touchdown and the turnover leading directly to a Baltimore field goal.
"I knew it was a quarterback sneak," Reed said. "Me and Ray [Lewis] were yelling at each other and I saw the ball come out. It hit the center's leg. It was getting kicked around a little bit. I was just thankful to get it because one of their linemen had hit me from the left side.
"He was going to snap it so quick and that's why he probably fumbled it. You just saw it coming. I've seen it so many times with [Tom] Brady, and being that they got a Brady background. Cassel used to be with Brady [in New England]. It was just right there, the gap was open. I'm sure if he doesn't fumble that, it's a touchdown and a different ballgame."
Following an instant replay review, the fumble call was upheld. Afterward, Lilja took the blame.
"It was big, obviously," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "It was huge. I thought our offense did a great job of capitalizing. It was important in the football game."
Injured Ravens Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs isn't expected to return for the Houston Texans game on Oct. 21, according to a league source with knowledge of the situation.
The source refuted reports that Suggs was aiming toward that game, characterizing it as unrealistic he would be ready or that the Ravens would risk a setback by allowing him to play. The source added it's
far too soon to know exactly when the NFL Defensive Player of the Year will return from a surgically-repaired partially torn right Achilles tendon.
The source said it's far more likely that Suggs would return sometime in November, perhaps later in that month
Suggs, who led the Ravens with 14 sacks and seven forced fumbles last season, is on the physically unable to perform list for the first six games of the season.
After the first six games, he has a three-week window to begin practicing and be placed on the active roster. If the Ravens want to, though, they could simply activate Suggs regardless of his ability to practice and simply carry him on the roster until he's ready.
It will take time for Suggs to get into optimum playing shape.
Cassel knocked out of game
An embattled starter, Cassel suffered a concussion when he got decked by Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata in the fourth quarter.
"You get hit by Haloti Ngata, you will get a concussion," nose guard Ma'ake Kemeatu said.
Cassel was on the ground for several minutes before wobbling off the field with trainers.
It was a devastating hit as the 6-foot-4, 350-pounder had a full head of steam when he crashed into Cassel.
"I knew I hit him hard," Ngata said. "I didn't think I hit him hard enough to take him out."
Before kickoff, an airplane circled the stadium with a banner calling for Cassel to be benched and for general manager Scott Pioli to be fired.
Fans cheered when Cassel got hurt, seemingly overjoyed to see backup quarterback Brady Quinn enter the game.
"That's not cool," Ngata said. "He's your quarterback. For them to cheer for him being hurt, that's just not cool."
After the game, Cassel was visibly upset.
"It was sad to see the fans cheer for somebody getting hurt," Kemoeatu said. "It's a horrible situaiton. I hope he's fine."
Chiefs offensive tackle Eric Winston went on a rant after the game where he criticized the fans for taking joy in Cassel's pain.
"We are athletes, we are not gladiators,” Winston told Kansas City reporters. “This isn’t the Roman Colisseum. People pay their hard-earned money to come in here. I believe they can boo, they can cheer, they can do whatever they want. But when you cheer somebody getting knocked out, I don’t care who it is, and it just so happened to be Matt Cassel, it’s sickening. It’s 100 percent sickening. I’ve been in some rough times on some rough teams. I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life to play football than at that moment right there.”
"Matt Cassel hasn’t done anything to you people, hasn’t done anything to the media writers who kill him, hasn’t done anything wrong to the people that come out here and cheer him. If he’s not the best quarterback, he’s not the best quarterback, and that’s OK. But he’s a person. And he got knocked out in a game, and we got 70,000 people cheering If you’re one of those people who were out there cheering, or even smiled, when he got knocked out, I just want everyone to know it’s sickening and disgusting.”
Cassel completed only 9 of 15 passes for 92 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions for a 38.1 quarterback rating.
The Chiefs' coaches showed little faith in him, even running the football in third-and-long situations.
"None, it was surprising becuase he's a very capable quarterback," cornerback Cary Williams said. "I don't know if he lost confidence in himself. He's under a lot of scrutiny from fans and media as well. It's not our job to worry about that. It's not our problem."
Tucker on the money
Tucker provided every point the Ravens scored Sunday, connecting on field goals from 28, 26 and 39 yards.
It was exactly what the Ravens required from the rookie kicker.
"It's good to come through when my team needs me," Tucker said. "Give credit to our defense and our offense also for just getting the job done in the fourth quarter when it matters the most. It doesn't have to be pretty but the result is what we're all looking for."
Tucker's last field goal came at the close of the third quarter to boost the Ravens' lead to 9-3.
"We took the clock down a little bit and where it may have looked like we rushed it, we had a plan," Tucker said. "The kick was good and we got the win. Everything was copacetic ."
It was an extremely rough day for offensive tackles Michael Oher and Kelechi Osemele.
"Houston was definitely the fastest guy I've had to block, I'll give it to him," said Osemele, a rookie second-round draft pick from Iowa State. "I've just got to do a better job of finishing him when he goes low and rips. That guy was so freaking explosive. He would pop off the ground and keep rushing.
"I'm learning every game. I've been going against some really good defensive ends. It's only going to make me better in the future."
This marked the second time Oher had trouble with Hali, a Pro Bowl selection. In the Ravens' AFC wild-card playoff win two seasons ago, Hali had seven tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.
On Sunday, Hali recorded six tackles, two for losses and three quarterback hits.
"Hali's a great player, the guy gets after it," Oher said. "He's relentless. He does a great job of everything. I just got to go back and watch the film. I'm pretty sure I did a lot of good things and bad things."
Flacco picked off
It looked familiar, an interception by quarterback Joe Flacco where he didn't look off the secondary and focused on his primary read before being picked off.
In this instance, it was single coverage and Flowers moved quickly to position himself in front of Boldin for the turnover.
"I saw him the whole way," Flacco said. "He did a double move there to come back. I thought Q had a step on him. I think he kind of grabbed Q's head or facemask because he came out of it, so he was able to break to the ball better than Q was."
Boldin had a similar take on what happened.¿
"He grabbed my facemask as I was coming out of my break," said Boldin, who was targeted 10 times and caught four passes for 82 yards. "I was trying to locate where Joe was and he grabbed it and my head went down. I'm not going to complain about it. It's football."
The Ravens made it out of the game fairly healthy, reporting no injuries. Defensive end Pernell McPhee left the game in the first half to have his ankle examined in the locker room, but returned and downplayed the severity of the ailment. "I think it was just a bruise," he said. "I don't think it was nothing. I got it taped up and went back in." ... Rookie kick returner Deonte Thompson fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half when he was hit by former Ravens wide receiver Terrance Copper. The fumble was recovered by former Ravens outside linebacker-tight end Edgar Jones. Thompson was later flagged for offensive holding on a punt return. ... The Ravens held prolific Chiefs punt returner Javier Arenas in check. Arenas was limited to eight yards on four punt returns, a two-yard average. He entered the game averaging 11.3 yards per punt return. However, the Ravens allowed a 41-yard kickoff return to Shaun Draughn. ... A Quinn touchdown pass to Dwayne Bowe was nullified by an offensive pass interference penalty on Dexter McCluster when he ran an illegal pick. ... Wide receiver LaQuan Williams (Maryland) was active for the first time this season, and made the tackle on the opening kickoff. Rookie safety Christian Thompson was inactive for the first time. The fourth-round draft pick was a healthy scratch. The Ravens deactivated rookie cornerback Asa Jackson offensive tackle Jah Reid (strained right calf), tight end Billy Bajema, defensive tackle DeAngelo Tyson, outside linebacker Sergio Kindle and defensive tackle Bryan Hall.