Ravens determined not to repeat last KC loss

OWINGS MILLS - Vision, reactions and speed defined the Baltimore Ravens' loss last year to the Kansas City Chiefs. <br><br> Dante Hall's rare ability to survey the field and accelerate upfield won the game on a kickoff return for Kansas City with five minutes remaining. <br><br> "It was a back-breaker," said outside linebacker Bart Scott of Hall's 97-yard touchdown in last year's 17-10 defeat as Baltimore prepares for Monday night's game against the winless Chiefs.

"It sucked all of the life out of the stadium."

And the game simply traveled too fast for quarterback Kyle Boller. In his fourth NFL start, he was way too eager to force the football to tight end Todd Heap and didn't recognize what the Chiefs were doing defensively.

Besides Hall's kickoff return, the Ravens' cause was hurt by Boller tossing a career-high three interceptions with no touchdowns.

Boller's judgment was clouded by the Chiefs' disguise of schemes to confuse him. He hasn't thrown an interception for two weeks in a row.
"They did a good job of moving around last year," Boller said. "There were a couple of balls I forced in there, and I think I've done a lot to work on that and not do that again."

A year later as they head into another game against the Chiefs (0-3), the Ravens (2-1) remain concerned with limiting Hall's impact and keeping Boller's turnovers to a minimum.

Hall became the first player in league history last season to register a kickoff or punt return touchdown in four consecutive games. He's the first to return four in a season since Denver's Rick Upchurch in 1976.
The diminutive wide receiver averaged 25.9 yards per kickoff return and 16.8 yards per punt return. The Chiefs are 6-0 when the two-time Pro Bowl selection returns a kick for a score.

"I'm convinced that it's the vision," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Guys like Dante Hall, Barry Sanders, Joe Montana, see things differently than you or I do. They have a peripheral vision.

"The game's so much slower for them. I think he's one of those guys. He sees things."

Since 2002, Hall has returned seven kicks for scores to lead the league.

"What makes a return man great is him getting those 10 other players to believe if they give him an inch that he can score," cornerback Deion Sanders said.

Through three games, Hall leads the AFC with a 14.0 punt return average and ranks eighth with a 23.2 kickoff return average.

"All it takes is one guy to break down, not be in his lane, not be where he was the entire game and all of a sudden now it's a touchdown," Billick said. "That's the challenge that our guys have lived through and, hopefully, we'll learn from it."

The Ravens are hoping Boller has learned from last year's mistakes, too.

With 30 seconds left in the game at the Chiefs' 44, Boller tried to force another pass to a well-covered Heap. Cornerback Dexter McCleon picked off his second pass of the game at the Chiefs' 2 to seal the win.

This year, Boller has played a safer, more conservative brand of football.

Although he fumbled twice in last week's 23-9 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, he rushed for his first NFL touchdown and threw his first of the season. He hasn't thrown an interception in his last 44 attempts.

"It will probably come down to who doesn't turn the ball over," Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil said. "If you evaluate that game, they were a better team than we were. We happened to do those things that make a difference in winning and losing, and that's take the ball away."

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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