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Cassel throws 3 INTs in first playoff game

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Matt Cassel’s first playoff start did not go well.

The Chiefs quarterback threw three interceptions and was sacked three times in Kansas City’s 30-7 loss Sunday to the Baltimore Ravens.

All season, Cassel was careful with the football. He threw just three interceptions at home in eight regular-season games.

But against Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and the rest of the Ravens’ defense, Cassel completed 9-of-18 passes for 70 yards. And the running game didn’t help much, either, with Dexter McCluster and Jamaal Charles losing fumbles.

“You can’t turn the football over and expect to win,” Chiefs coach Todd Haley said. “You can’t take sacks, and you can’t give up scoring opportunities in playoff games. Every point’s going to count.”

Cassel’s second interception late in the third quarter was converted into a Ravens touchdown that extended Baltimore’s lead to 23-7.

Cassel’s name had surfaced as a Pro Bowl candidate, but he didn’t look the part Sunday.

“I forced a few balls in there and it did not turn out well,” said Cassel, who credits New England’s Tom Brady with helping him develop into an NFL starter. “As leader of the team and a leader of the offense, I can’t do that. Our hats go off to the Ravens. They have a good defense. We knew that coming in. Hopefully, they do well going forward. But this one definitely hurts a little bit.”

When Brady got hurt in the 2008 season opener, Cassel came off the Patriots bench and led them to an 11-win season. But they missed the playoffs. And the Baltimore defense is a tough way for any playoff rookie to break in.

“We went into the half down 10-7 and the game was in reach,” said Cassel. “We got into the second half and it was just a lot of bad football on our part.”

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