Chiefs end emotional week with 30-7 loss to Browns
CLEVELAND -- There was no emotional carry-over or win for the Chiefs. Only a letdown.
One week after Kansas City's players bonded in grief following a teammate's death, the Chiefs were clobbered 30-7 on Sunday by the Cleveland Browns, who extended their longest winning streak since 2009 to three games.
Running back Jamaal Charles scored on an 80-yard touchdown run on the opening play. But other than that moment, it was more of the same for the Chiefs (2-11), still reeling from the tragedy involving linebacker Jovan Belcher, who killed his girlfriend before committing suicide at the team's practice facility.
"It's been a long week," linebacker Tamba Hali said. "Guys just wanted to come out and stack wins, back to back. Jamaal, when he broke that first one, we were excited. But we have to keep that up throughout the game."
Rookie Travis Benjamin's electrifying 93-yard punt return touchdown early in the second quarter swung momentum in Cleveland's favor and the Browns (5-8) continued their resurgence under second-year coach Pat Shurmur, whose future in Cleveland remains uncertain. With three games left, the Browns, who opened this season 0-5, have surpassed their win total from last season and have their longest winning streak since 2009.
"It's all kind of coming together," said 14-year veteran kicker Phil Dawson, who booted three field goals.
For one week, the Chiefs felt the same way.
Charles ran for 165 yards, breaking off his 80-yarder on the first snap as Kansas City, playing its road game since Belcher's suicide. The 25-year-old killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, at their home before driving to the team's practice facility on Dec. 1 and taking his life.
Rookie Trent Richardson's second 1-yard TD early in the fourth quarter gave the Browns a 27-7 lead and finally put away the Chiefs, who had somehow pulled tighter and won at over Carolina, less than one day after Belcher's unspeakable act.
Coach Romeo Crennel rallied his team through the difficult ordeal, but it may have been too much to expect the Chiefs to repeat last week's performance. Their practice schedule was adjusted during the week to attend a service for Belcher, and the days of reflection and sorrow may have taken a toll.
"It is going to be with some guys the rest of their lives," quarterback Brady Quinn said. "It's something I think we will carry with us the rest of the season, but it's not a distraction. We're doing our best to move forward. Football and the fact that these guys love to play the game is a great outlet or a great way to get our minds off of it."
Charles returned after sustaining a rib injury knocked him out one series. Kansas City, though, lost leading receiver Dwayne Bowe, who injured his ribs in the first half and didn't come back.
Without Bowe, Quinn was without his top target. Quinn, who had his finest game as a pro last week, finished 11 of 22 for 159 yards and one interception.
The Chiefs were up 7-0 just 12 seconds after the opening kick as Charles took a handoff, Charles busted through Cleveland's line and took off, running away from the Browns defensive backs.
Kansas City drove it to Cleveland's 3-yard line on its next possession, set up by Quinn's 47-yard pass to Bowe. But with a chance to take a two-touchdown lead, the Chiefs bogged down. Ryan Succop's 27-yard field goal attempt hit the left upright -- the first of many signs this would not be Kansas City's day.
"Not every field goal kick is a given, so we don't put that on him," Quinn said. "We really wanted a touchdown, but we didn't execute like we needed to in the plays prior."
Richardson finished with two 1-yard TD runs for the young-and-improved Browns, whose 23-point margin of victory was their largest since 2003 -- a significant accomplishment for a franchise with 11 double-digit loss seasons since 1999.
"It's been a long year," linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said. "At first, it was rocky. We were in a lot of close ballgames and we weren't able to finish, and now we're starting to create something. We had some young guys at the beginning of the season that were a little immature, and they've grown up a little bit.
"We have something going right now."
Dawson kicked field goals of 23, 24 and 34 yards for the Browns, 3-1 since the bye with the loss at Dallas in overtime. Dawson's first kick made him the 25th player in NFL history to make 300 field goals.
Benjamin's 93-yard punt return -- the longest in team history -- gave the Browns a 10-7 lead.
Just before the snap, Benjamin lined up to block Kansas City's gunner before sprinting 50 yards and switching spots with Josh Cribbs, who rushed up the middle. Benjamin fielded the kick inside his 10, cut sharply left, picked up a few key blocks and outran the rest of Kansas City's coverage unit.
The Browns worked on the play in practice and sprung it on the Chiefs, who must stay united for three games to end a season where losses have taken on a new meaning.
"We will still hang together, fight together to finish the season," Crennel said.
NOTES: Bowe had two catches for 70 yards before going out. Crennel did not provide an update on his injury. ... Charles had a 91-yard TD run earlier this season against New Orleans. ... P Dustin Colquitt averaged 48 yards on seven punts, including a 57-yarder that went out at the 3. ... Hali had two of Kansas City's three sacks. ... RB Peyton Hillis had 11 yards on five carries in his return to Cleveland.
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Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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