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Saturday, August 20, 2011
Breaking down the Chiefs-Ravens

By Bill Williamson

Random thoughts from the Chiefs’ 31-13 loss at Baltimore on Friday night:

Kansas City was more interested in playing football than it was in a 25-0 loss to Tampa Bay last week. The Chiefs have been taking it slow in training camp because of the lockout and Kansas City coach Todd Haley treated the first preseason game like a training-camp day. Friday night, the Chiefs’ competed like they were actually in a game.

The score didn’t get out of hand until late when the Ravens -- who knocked Kansas City out of the playoffs then saw coach Jim Zorn and players Kelly Gregg, Le'Ron McClain and Jared Gaither join Kansas City this offseason -- scored three touchdowns in the final 7 minutes, 15 seconds of the game.

After the game, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said Haley was not pleased.

“I want to apologize to the Chiefs if they feel like we were not doing the right thing at the end of the game,” Harbaugh said. “That wasn’t the mindset, OK? The mindset was -- this is the preseason. If this had been the regular season, we would’ve been on a knee. The idea in that situation is to give those young guys who work hard and who are trying to make a football team -- this football team or another football team -- to play the whole 60 minutes and give them a chance to show what they can do. Offensive line, running backs, everybody.”

My thoughts? Do what you want, coach Harbaugh. Get your team ready the way you see fit. My solution for coaches who think the score is being run up on them has always been this: Stop the opponent from running up the score and the score won’t be run up on you.

Haley indicated he wasn’t bothered by the Ravens’ late scoring flurry.

“I just control what we do,” Haley said. “There are probably guys out on the field that may have had limited opportunity. Coaches get very limited opportunity to evaluate (players) so their coach has to do what he has to do to get his team ready just like I’m trying to do what we have to do to get ours ready.”

Anyway, Haley appeared pleased with his team’s overall effort.

“There were bright spots across the board with our team,” Haley said. “Defensively, it appeared we made progress in some areas. Offensively, I want to be fair to all the guys. We’re really working hard on the fundamentals of football. We’re not over-exotic right now. We’re not scheming to make plays. Sometimes that’s frustrating for all of us.”

Backup quarterback Tyler Palko played well. He executed a nice two-minute drill at the end of the first half, which resulted in a touchdown. If Palko keeps this up, the Chiefs might not look for a veteran to backup Matt Cassel.

For those expecting the Chiefs to bring clarity to the Jon Baldwin situation, think again. Haley only referred to it as “family business.” Baldwin reportedly got into a fight with veteran Thomas Jones and Baldwin hurt is wrist, putting him out for the preseason. There was a report that his thumb is a bigger issue than the wrist, but since the Chiefs aren’t talking, that can’t be confirmed at this point.

Cassel was 6-of-14 passing for 73 yards. Yet, he threw some nice passes and looked solid overall. He didn’t throw a pass in last week’s game.

Running back/receiver Dexter McCluster accounted for 71 yards of total offense on seven touches. He showed what a dynamic role player he can be.

Top receiver Dwayne Bowe had a nice game with three catches for 43 yards.

The Chiefs' offensive line needs to tighten up. Baltimore had five sacks.

Rookie pass-rusher Justin Houston had a nice game. He had two sacks and forced a fumble on special teams. This guy can play.