KANSAS CITY — Is this Arrowhead or Florida State’s Doak Campbell Stadium? Hard to tell with all the Seminole-like war chants that have filled the air here. The Arrowhead Stadium sellout crowd is giving it their full-throated best in today’s AFC wild-card matchup between the No. 4 seed Chiefs and the No. 5 seed Ravens.
The winner will advance to a playoff matchup against second-seeded Pittsburgh at Heinz Field next weekend.
Looking for their first playoff victory at home since 1993, the Chiefs have taken a 7-3 lead on Jamaal Charles’ 41-yard touchdown run with 2:09 left in the first half. It answered a 19-yard field goal by Baltimore’s Billy Cundiff that gave the Ravens a 3-0 lead after a 14-play, 69-yard drive stalled at the Kansas City 1.
Joe Flacco, who completed 17 of 24 passes for 196 yards in the first half, found Ray Rice with a 9-yard TD toss with 19 seconds remaining before intermission to put the Ravens up, 10-7, at halftime.
Flacco then directed a 7-play, 51-yard drive _ which he sustained (the hard way) by absorbing a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty from Kansas City’s Tamba Hali. It resulted in a 29-yard field goal by Cundiff that increased the Raven’s lead to 13-7 with 6:36 remaining in the third quarter.
Baltimore’s defense came up with a huge turnover when Chiefs’ rookie receiver Dexter McCluster fumbled and Chris Carr recovered for the Ravens at the KC 17.
Baltimore’s offense, however, failed to punch it in and was forced to settle for yet another Cundiff 29-yard field goal that expanded the Ravens’ lead to 16-7. A little breathing room, yes, but it was evident that with the Chiefs’ ability to run the ball, it was going to take more than just field goals to beat Kansas City.
But Arrowhead Stadium, considered the loudest venue in the league, became one of the most silent if not sullen when the Ravens’ capitalized on a Dawan Landry interception return to the Chiefs’ 31, where Flacco needed six plays to find Anquan Boldin with a 4-yard TD toss that expanded Baltimore’s lead to 23-7 after three quarters.
Willis McGahee buried a final nail in the Chiefs’ playoff hopes when he broke open for a 25-yard touchdown run that capped a 15-play, 80-yard scoring drive that consummed 10:20 and gave the Ravens’ a 30-7 lead with 4:26 to go.