Marcus Peters as Chiefs' MVP? Strong case can be made for rookie

Big plays lead to game balls in Chiefs' rout of the Ravens (1:02)

NFL Nation reporters Adam Teicher and Jamison Hensley gave game balls to Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters, who scored on a 90-yard interception return, and Ravens wide receiver Kamar Aiken, who caught a 48-yard Hail Mary at the end of the first half. (1:02)

BALTIMORE -- For the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens was a little like their season. The Chiefs got into trouble and turned to their best defensive playmaker to bail them out.

Rookie cornerback Marcus Peters delivered, as he always seems to do when needed most. The Ravens were threatening to slice their deficit to six points in the fourth quarter when Baltimore quarterback Jimmy Clausen made the fatal mistake.

Clausen threw the ball in the vicinity of Peters. At crucial junctures, that seems to wind up with disastrous results. It was no different for Clausen and the Ravens. Peters not only made the interception but returned it 90 yards for a touchdown to seal a 34-14 victory, the Chiefs' eighth in a row. The win bolstered Kansas City's already-solid chances of making the playoffs as a wild-card entrant.

The addition of Peters has made the Chiefs a different kind of team. Last year, they were begging for turnovers and had just six interceptions. This year, forcing turnovers is a weekly part of their game and Peters leads the parade -- he has seven interceptions.

Peters' takeaway mentality has rubbed off on his teammates. His touchdown was one of two Chiefs defensive scores Sunday. Safety Tyvon Branch returned a fumble 73 yards for the other score on defense. The Chiefs lead the NFL with six defensive touchdowns and have 20 interceptions as a team.

Their efforts to create more turnovers gained traction when they drafted Peters in the first round out of Washington this past spring and inserted him in the starting lineup. He had an interception on his first NFL play in the season opener against the Houston Texans and had a pick-six the following week against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.

"Certainly he's been a huge part of it," said Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, whose 21-of-25 passing with a touchdown was upstaged by Peters and the defense. "Those are big, big plays. His attitude and the way he takes on that challenge, I do think that rubs off.

"For a young guy, that's rare to have that mindset."

For that reason, it's not ridiculous to suggest Peters is Kansas City's MVP. He gives up plays, as he did at times Sunday. He forfeited yards when he foolishly went for a strip of wide receiver Kamar Aiken rather than try to make a tackle after a catch.

But what the Chiefs are getting in return is tremendous.

"Cocky is not the word," coach Andy Reid said when asked what Peters brought to the Chiefs. "Confident, I'd tell you is the word. Competitive is probably a better word. He never thinks he's out of a play. He's going to challenge people around him. He's not afraid to do that.

"I think if you talk to the other guys, they'll tell you that. They trust him out there. Is he going to give up a play here or there? ... Yes. But the players have confidence in him and they know he's going to bring it every snap."

The Chiefs stopped thinking of Peters as a rookie some time ago. He has plenty of room for growth because he can certainly be better on a down-by-down basis. His temper occasionally gets the better of him. But when it comes to expectations his team has placed on him, Peters is right there with any Chiefs veteran.

"He's not a rookie to us," veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson said. "We expect him to make plays. He's made them, so his standard is very high."