On a day where the Ravens offense could hardly move the football, the defense picked up the slack.
The Ravens defense held Kansas City out of the end zone and came up with four critical turnovers, which led to all of the Ravens' points. The turnovers proved to be the difference, as the Ravens took down the Chiefs 9-6 at Arrowhead Stadium to improve to 4-1 on the season.
"The turnovers were everything," linebacker Ray Lewis said. "I tip my hat off to our defense to just come in here and get as many turnovers as we did and just come in here and make the stops every time."
The Ravens picked off Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel twice – cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams made the interceptions – and Ed Reed and Courtney Upshaw both came up with fumble recoveries. Three of the turnovers came on drives where the Chiefs had already picked up at least one first down, and three of the turnovers came in Ravens territory.
The most significant turnover came in the third quarter with the game tied 3-3. The Chiefs had the ball at the Ravens 1-yard line ready to plunge in for a go-ahead touchdown, but quarterback Matt Cassel botched the snap and the ball bounced into the Ravens' secondary where Ed Reed scooped it up.
"I knew it was a quarterback sneak," Reed said about the play. "He was going to snap it so quick and that's probably why he fumbled it. He was trying to get it so quick and you just saw it coming."
Had Reed not come up with the recovery, the game might have gone down a much different path.
"It was just right there and the gap was open," Reed said. "I'm sure if he doesn't fumble that, then it's a touchdown, different ballgame."
After the fumble recovery, the Ravens then drove down the field for a Justin Tucker 26-yard field goal, giving a 6-3 lead. Tucker also connected on field goals of 28 and 39 yards, which accounted for all of the Ravens' points.
Overall, it was a frustrating day for the offense, which struggled to move the football and couldn't really take advantage of the Chiefs' miscues. Quarterback Joe Flacco completed 13 of 27 passes for 187 yards and an interception.
"They're not always pretty around here, but there's one thing that we do around here: we do what we have to do to win football games," Flacco said. "I've been saying that for a long time. Whether that's throwing for 400 yards of having a crap day and throwing for 100 yards, we do what we have to do to win the game."
While the offense had its struggles, the group did come through with key plays in the final possession to seal the win and send the Ravens home with the victory. Flacco scrambled for a first down on third-and-15 situation, and then running back Ray Rice ran three straight times to pick up another first down and run out the clock.
"He just ran really hard and really well," Harbaugh said about Rice, who finished the day with 101 rushing yards on 17 carries. "They were great runs and a great job by the offensive line."
Both the offense and defense came up with the necessary plays in clutch situations.
In addition to forcing the turnovers, the defense also limited a potent Chiefs offense that came into Sunday's game ranked fourth in the NFL in total yardage. The Chiefs finished the day with 338 total yards, but most of those came in the first half thanks to a big day from running back Jamaal Charles.
Charles finished the half with a whopping 125 yards, but he had just 15 yards on 10 carries in the second half after some adjustments by the Ravens defense.
"Once you make that adjustment, everything changes," Lewis said, without revealing specifics. "As you see in the second half, totally different ballgame."
The Ravens also benefited from two fortuitous calls late in the fourth quarter.
On the Chiefs' final drive, they had a Dwayne Bowe touchdown catch taken off the board because of a pass interference penalty on Dexter McCluster. The play would have tied the game and allowed Kansas City to take the lead with an extra point conversion.
"That was a good call," Harbaugh said. "You can't do that. You can't pick a defender."
Then on the Ravens' final drive, Flacco was sacked by outside linebacker Tamba Hali, who popped out the football as he wrapped up Flacco. The Chiefs picked up the ball and ran into the end zone, but the officials blew the play dead because Flacco was already in Hali's grasp, which was an unreviewable call.
"I knew I was down and I heard the whistle," Flacco said.
With Sunday's win, the Ravens move a game up in the division following the Bengals' loss to Miami. The Ravens are near the top of the AFC, and in prime position at this point in the season.
"It's huge to be where we're at right now," Reed said. "Being that this was an AFC game and we're still in the driver's seat of this thing. But it's a long season, man."