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Browns' Early Turnover the Turning Point : AFC: First-quarter fumble by Rypien gives Chiefs new life and helps them win, 20-13.

November 21, 1994|From Associated Press

KANSAS CITY — Do not look at the Cleveland Browns' 142 yards in 15 penalties or Kimble Anders' go-ahead touchdown as the key in the undermanned Kansas City Chiefs' 20-13 victory on Sunday.

Check Mark Rypien's fumble at the Kansas City six in the first quarter as a pounding rain turned Arrowhead Stadium's new grass field into slop. It wasted Mark Carrier's 60-yard punt return and gave the Chiefs new life in a victory that tightened two AFC races.

"If you want to see a turning point, it was after the long punt return and we came away and got the ball back," said Chief Coach Marty Schottenheimer. "As early as it was, I thought that was the turning point in the ballgame."

The Chiefs (7-3), who were without seven starters, crept within a game of the San Diego Chargers in the AFC West and dropped the Browns (8-3) into a first-place tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Central.

Rypien said the fumble was caused when center Steve Everitt gave him a bad snap and resulted from the same trickery the Chiefs used to induce all the penalties.

"He saw the nose tackle flinch and snapped the ball as he's been told to do, and I wasn't expecting it," Rypien said.

The Browns were driving in the final minute when Derrick Thomas sacked Rypien and stripped the ball. The ball was recovered by Pellom McDaniels at the Chief 48 and Kansas City ran out the clock.

Among the Chiefs' wounded were their best running back (Marcus Allen), offensive lineman (John Alt), wide receiver (Willie Davis) defensive lineman (Neil Smith) and defensive back (Mark Collins).

"We were confident that if we would play the game the way we're capable of playing, we had players who could perform in a winning fashion," Schottenheimer said.

The Browns scored their first touchdown in Arrowhead Stadium in four games and took a 13-10 lead late in the third quarter on Rypien's 15-yard pass to Michael Jackson.

Lin Elliott's 28-yard field goal tied the score at 13-13 only 53 seconds into the fourth quarter. Then, with rookie running backs Donnell Bennett and Greg Hill supplying most of the muscle on a rainy day when quarterbacks had trouble gripping the ball, the Chiefs went 69 yards in nine plays and scored a second touchdown in a game for the first time in four weeks.

Hill and Bennett carried on seven consecutive plays until a wild scene ensued at the two. Anders recovered his own fumble on third and one at the two, but two unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties on the Browns made it first down. Anders carried across the middle for the go-ahead score.

"You look at the stats and you tell me about the officiating," said safety Eric Turner. "It seemed like every penalty we got was offset by one of theirs. I would like to see their definition of pass interference. It's awful frustrating when you feel things aren't going fairly or evenly."

Brown Coach Bill Belichick called it "our worst game of the year."

Added Belichick: "We made way too many mistakes. We made enough errors to last us two or three games. Penalties and turnovers were the key factors. We just didn't get the job done in every aspect of the game."

The lackluster Cleveland offense sprang to life in a five-play, 65-yard march late in the third period that was capped by Rypien's go-ahead touchdown pass to Jackson. Taking Rypien's pass over the middle, Jackson beat Jay Taylor, Collins' backup, then strained across the goal line.

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