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(Sunday, September 13th)
Final Score: Baltimore 38, Kansas City 24
Baltimore, MD (Sports Network) - Joe Flacco threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Mark Clayton with 2:06 to play, and Willis McGahee added his second TD of the day to sew up the Baltimore Ravens' 38-24 win over the feisty Kansas City Chiefs in the regular season opener for both teams from M&T Bank Stadium.
Flacco led a rare offensive assault for the defensive-minded Ravens (1-0), with Baltimore's 501 yards of total offense marking a single-game franchise record.
The second-year quarterback out of Delaware completed 26-of-43 passes for 307 yards with three touchdowns and an interception, breaking a 24-24 tie with the deep scoring lob to Clayton. Ray Rice led the ground game with 19 carries for 108 yards.
"We had a great game," said Flacco of the offensive display. "We have to continue to get better. We didn't really convert some of our drives into touchdowns early on in the game. If we had done that, it would have been a much better game for us."
Prior to the scoring strike to Clayton, Flacco helped the Ravens overcome a surprising deficit by hitting Todd Heap with a nine-yard touchdown pass to make the score 17-14 with 3:57 to play in the third.
But the Chiefs (0-1) refused to die, tying the game at 17-17 on a 53-yard field goal by rookie Ryan Succop with 11:57 to play in the fourth quarter.
After Baltimore broke back ahead on a one-yard scoring run for Le'Ron McClain with 8:10 to play in the fourth quarter, Chiefs quarterback Brodie Croyle -- subbing for the injured Matt Cassel (knee) -- led a six-play, 80-yard drive culminating with a 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Sean Ryan with 5:21 to play.
The Chiefs hung in for nearly four quarters despite the absence of Cassel, who was injured in the team's third preseason game, and the team couldn't muster a win in their initial foray under head coach Todd Haley.
"I made it very clear to the team that for us to win the game it was not going to be a pretty game," said Haley. "For us to win the game or have a chance to win the game, it was going to be downright ugly. And really, that's the type of game we played until the [go-ahead play] that they had when they had the big play for the touchdown on [Clayton's] post."
Haley also handled play-calling duties for Kansas City after firing offensive coordinator Chan Gailey late in the preseason, and the Chiefs accrued just 188 total yards and 11 first downs in Week 1. Croyle finished 16-of-24 passing for 177 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but the running game led by Larry Johnson's 20 yards on 11 carries generated a mere 29 yards.
"Brodie Croyle gave us a chance to win today, and that's all I'll ever ask my quarterback to do," said Haley. "I don't know what his numbers were. I know at some point there it was not pretty, but he was completing the ball where he had to, and most importantly he was not turning it over."
Despite leading just 10-7 at the half, the Ravens dominated the first-half statistics, outgaining the Chiefs, 215-56, with 12 first downs to Kansas City's three, and limiting Johnson and the running game to just 19 yards on 11 carries.
Baltimore looked to be in command after scoring on each of its first two drives.
After Kansas City went three-and-out to open the game, Flacco led Baltimore on a nine-play, 54-yard march culminating with a 44-yard field goal for Steve Hauschka at the 10:19 mark of the first quarter.
The next time Baltimore got the ball, after another Kansas City three-and-out, Flacco orchestrated a 13-play, 70-yard drive consuming 6:44 and ending with a three-yard touchdown pass to McGahee following a lengthy scramble for the QB.
Kansas City was not moving the ball with similar proficiency. The Chiefs did not have a first down in the first quarter, going three-and-out on each of their first four drives. Their initial first down came on a pass from Croyle to Bobby Engram with less than three minutes to play in the second quarter.
But a blocked punt at the 9:55 mark of the second quarter kept the Chiefs in the game, as Jon McGraw both blocked and recovered a Sam Koch punt in the end zone to cut the score to 10-7.
With just under 10 minutes to play in the third quarter, Derrick Johnson intercepted a Flacco pass and returned it all the way to the Baltimore six- yard line. Two plays later, Croyle hit Derrick Bowe with a two-yard pass that gave the Chiefs a 14-10 lead with 8:52 to play in the third.
The Chiefs lost in Baltimore for the first time since the 1975 season, when they fell to the Colts at Memorial Stadium...Croyle is now 0-9 as an NFL starter...McGahee scored his 40th and 41st career touchdowns, but the first- quarter TD was just the second scoring reception of his career. The other was against the Jets on September 16, 2007, McGahee's first touchdown as a Raven...The Chiefs are now 2-24 in their last 26 regular season games dating back to the 2007 season, including 1-12 on the road over that stretch...McGraw's blocked punt for a touchdown was the first such score against the Ravens since November 1, 1998, when Jacksonville's Alvis Whitted scored off a block...Hauschka, who is attempting to replace Ravens all-time leading scorer Matt Stover, also missed a 41-yard field goal wide left in the second quarter.
09/13 17:58:42 ET