Going on the road and winning in the playoffs is no easy task. Going into Arrowhead and facing the Chiefs on their home turf is something entirely different.
The 2010 AFC wild-card matchup between the Ravens and Chiefs put Baltimore in that exact situation. The team had finished the regular season with a 12-4 record and a second-place finish in the AFC North. Quarterback Joe Flacco paced the Ravens offense in 2010, throwing for a career-high 3,622 yards and 25 touchdowns. Running back Ray Rice added 1,220 yards on the ground, while linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed paced a defense that finished third in the NFL in fewest points allowed. Reed, who only played in 10 games after starting the season on the physically unable to play list, led the NFL with eight interceptions.
Their reward? A road trip to one of the NFL's most hostile environments for a showdown with the AFC West champions.
The 2010 Kansas City Chiefs were a steady team that liked to run the ball and play physical defense – something the Ravens knew well. Kansas City finished with a 10-6 mark and the division crown. Running back Jamaal Charles posted 1,467 yards on the ground that year, and fellow running back Thomas Jones added 896 more, leading a balanced Kansas City offense. Outside linebacker Tamba Hali terrorized opposing offenses and finished with 14.5 sacks on the year. A pair of teams with similar styles were set to square off with a trip to the divisional round on the line.
Much of the first half was a defensive struggle with the two teams trading a touchdown after the Ravens opened the scoring with a field goal. A 10-7 halftime lead for Baltimore would balloon as its defense clamped down. In all, the Ravens forced five turnovers – three interceptions and two fumble recoveries – shutting Kansas City out in the game's final three quarters. When the game ended, it was a 30-7 win for Baltimore, and a third-straight trip to the divisional round.
Stat of the game
Matt Cassel's quarterback rating of 20.4. Cassel was battered by the Ravens, going just 9-of-18 for 70 yards and three interceptions.
Player of the game
Ravens tight end Todd Heap was a force the Chiefs had no answer for. Heap dominated the Chiefs with 10 catches for 108 yards on the afternoon.
Play of the game
Not every big play leaves a mark on the stat sheet, and this play falls in that category. Ed Reed was going through an unimaginable time leading up the wild-card game in Kansas City. Reed's brother, Brian, had gone missing in Louisiana. It was fitting that Reed made one of the more memorable plays in the game. In the middle of the second quarter, the Chiefs faced a third-and-8 near midfield. Cassel dropped a pass in the flat for Dexter McCluster and Reed came from his free safety position and laid a bone-crushing hit on McCluster, stopping him dead in his tracks and forcing a fourth down. The play forced a punt and the Ravens ran off 27 unanswered points.
Quote of the week
Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs on how the team rallied around Reed during his difficult time: "Ed and the Reed family are going through a lot right now. Who's a better teammate than Ed Reed? He didn't have to play today but he chose to play. It was the simple fact that we wanted to give him three hours of peace. Let's go out there and have fun with your football brothers and we started doing that. We were like, 'We're going to have fun out here. We are going to let [go of] everything that we are dealing with and will deal with it after the game, together.' Just kind of how we've been doing it so far. It definitely was an emotional win for him and the rest of us, too. We really wanted to play for him and have fun with him, just kind of give him peace, put his mind at ease for a little bit."
What it meant
The Ravens' win in Kansas City sent them to the divisional round where they would face the Pittsburgh Steelers for the third time on the season. After jumping out to a 21-7 lead, the second half was a different story. Pittsburgh raced back and eventually won the game, 31-24, ending the campaign. It would be the second of three years that would end at the hand of the Steelers in the playoffs.