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Purple Reign 2: Chapter 12 “Oh, where is the ‘O’ in October?”

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An hour before kickoff a plane circled the stadium with a banner that simply said: Fire Pioli, Bench Cassel!

Nothing the fans of Kansas City would see that day would change their opinion.

Ray Rice’s 37-yard scamper on the first possession led to a 28-yard field goal by Justin Tucker. The Chiefs tied the game in the second quarter on a 30-yard Ryan Succup field goal, and the game was knotted 3-3 at the half. The Ravens defense struggled all day to contain running back Jamaal Charles, who ran for 140 yards on 30 carries, oft times running away from linebackers and the secondary and into open space. The Chiefs committed four turnovers, but were always one play away from taking a lead.

In the third quarter, Flacco threw an ugly interception to Flowers that was intended for Anquan Boldin, and the Chiefs drove to the 1 where Cassel fumbled the snap on a potential quarterback sneak and Ed Reed came out of the pile with the ball. Chiefs fans booed Cassel off the field. Tucker kicked two third quarter field goals to give the Ravens a 9-3 lead.

Early in the fourth quarter, Cassel threw to the right side in the flat to Charles, and he was hit hard on his left side by Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata as he delivered the ball and wound up on the Arrowhead Stadium turf writhing in pain, struggling to catch his breath. As Cassel lay in pain, the Chiefs fans applauded his injury and applauded even louder as back up quarterback Brady Quinn grabbed his helmet and ran onto the field.

If it wasn’t the lowest point in the NFL this season for poor fan behavior then it was certainly the lowest point for Kansas City fans, who traditionally have a reputation as a little “kinder and gentler” than some northeast cities like Cleveland, where the crowd has routinely harassed the home team with boos, seemingly for four decades without a Super Bowl crown. It was harsh. It was mean. And it wasn’t a few Neanderthals. On a perfect afternoon for football in Kansas City there were at least 15,000 empty seats in the bowl of the stadium, so the angriest Chiefs fans appeared to not even bother to come. But it sounded like those who did, extracted their ounce of blood and it drew the ire of veteran Chiefs tackle Eric Winston in the postgame.

“It’s 100 percent sickening,” Winston said afterward, still stewing at his locker. “I’ve never, ever ­– and I’ve been in some rough times on some rough teams – I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life to play football than at that moment right there. I get emotional about it because these guys, they work their butts off. Matt Cassel hasn’t done anything to you people. Hey, if he’s not the best quarterback, he’s not the best quarterback, and that’s OK, but he’s a person. And he got knocked out in a game, and we’ve got 70,000 people cheering that he got knocked out. Sickening.”

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“We are not gladiators, and this is not the Roman Colosseum. This is a game. This is a game that’s going to cost us a lot down the road. That’s OK. We picked it. We deserve it. I don’t want your pity. But we’ve got a lot of problems as a society if people think that’s OK.”

Coming off the bench, Quinn managed to lead the Chiefs to a field goal on that fourth quarter drive, but that was the end of the scoring as the Ravens limped to a 9-6 win in Kansas City and got back to Baltimore in time to watch the Orioles lose 7-2 to the Yankees. It wasn’t much on style points and there were plenty of mistakes for the coaches to address for next week. But the Ravens came home 4-1 and had Dallas next up on the schedule, so it was hard to feel bad about an ugly road win.

The Ravens’ inability to stop the run, especially seeing Charles rack up 125 first-half yard on the ground against the defense was sickening for some Ravens fans because the team had literally played years in its halcyon days without allowing any team to rush for 100 years in a game. So, while it was nice that field goals were the result and not touchdowns in many cases, defensive coordinator Dean Pees didn’t like seeing his defense on the field for 35 minutes in a game, getting pushed around. Playing keep away from Flacco’s offense didn’t help the Ravens’ cause, either.

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