5 Keys to the Game

1. The Baltimore Ravens accomplished what no NFL team had done in nearly a decade by handing the Kansas City Chiefs a 20-10 defeat Sunday that marks their first loss in December at Arrowhead Stadium since the Indianapolis Colts won here on Dec. 15, 1996.

That 18-game home winning streak in December was the longest in the league since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. The victory strengthens the Ravens' pursuit of home-field advantage in the playoffs as the Colts and New England Patriots lost. The Ravens can clinch the AFC North title and an automatic playoff berth next week against the Cleveland Browns with a victory. Baltimore (10-3) won the sixth of its past seven games as coach Brian Billick won his 72nd regular-season game to surpass Don Shula as Baltimore's all-time winningest NFL coach. There were other milestones achieved as tight end Todd Heap caught the 300th pass of his career in his 79th game to become the sixth-fastest tight end to hit that mark in NFL history, one game faster than Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome during his Hall of Fame career with the Cleveland Browns. Kicker Matt Stover booted his 400th career field goal, becoming only the fourth player in NFL history to do so.

2. The defense absolutely swarmed, battered and confused Chiefs quarterback Trent Green as safety Ed Reed intercepted him twice and defensive end Terrell Suggs sacked him and forced a fumble. Suggs became the all-time leader in franchise history with 14 forced fumbles, eclipsing outside linebackers Peter Boulware and Adalius Thomas. Green was sacked five times, and appeared to get rattled by the relentless pressure.

3. The NFL's top-ranked defense has only allowed three touchdowns in the past 18 quarters dating back to a win over the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 12. Although Chiefs All-Pro running back Larry Johnson became the second running back to rush for over 100 yards against Baltimore this season by gaining 120 yards on 23 carries and the first to do so this year with middle linebacker Ray Lewis in the lineup, he didn't score. Besides a 47-yard burst up the left sideline followed by a Green interception, Johnson was limited to 73 yards on his other 22 carries.

4. Quarterback Steve McNair hit wide receiver Mark Clayton with an 87-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to build a 13-0 advantage. It marks the longest pass of McNair's 12-year career and the longest reception ever by the Ravens' 2005 first-round draft pick. Clayton finished with five receptions for 112 yards as McNair efficiently completed 21 of 27 passes for 283 yards and no interceptions for a 122.7 passer rating.

5. Running back Jamal Lewis was particularly critical in controlling time of possession, where Baltimore built an edge of 33 minutes and 29 seconds to the Chiefs' 26 minutes and 31 seconds. Lewis grinded out 81 yards on 24 carries to wear out the Chiefs' beleaguered defense and capped a staggering 9 minute, 13-second drive in the fourth quarter with a 1-yard touchdown run off right guard Keydrick Vincent's block. That drive was sustained by McNair's 33-yard completion to rookie wideout Demetrius Williams on 3rd-and-6 from the Ravens' 18-yard line.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland.

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