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Cassel feels great, ready for Chiefs' matchup with Ravens

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Matt Cassel is in bounceback mode. At least he's still on his feet.

The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback is heading into Sunday's playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens one week after being whacked and abused worse than any other time all year -- not counting emergency surgery.

In a 31-10 loss to the Oakland Raiders that ruined the Chiefs' perfect home record, Cassel was sacked five times, intercepted twice and harried and hurried all day long. His passer rating of 19.1 was less than half of his previous season low, and more than 100 points worse than what he'd done the previous week against the Tennessee Titans.

"I feel great," Cassel said Wednesday. "Just smiling a lot more."

One of the Chiefs' ugliest games all season happened on the same field where Cassel and his teammates will face Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and the rest of a Ravens defense that gave up the third-fewest points in the NFL while going 12-4.

So just how damaged is the confidence of a young Kansas City team that hasn't been in the playoffs since 2006?

"I think we all turn the page pretty quickly here," Cassel said. "We made some corrections from the game, but in terms of dwelling on it, it won't do us any good come Sunday. We've got to obviously play better."

At least the humbling loss didn't dampen the players' playoff enthusiasm. Cassel and Chiefs coach Todd Haley both said the practice facility was brimming with players who came in voluntarily on their days off Monday and Tuesday to study film and work out.

"Normally on Tuesdays the coaches are in meetings trying to put together a game plan and watch a lot of film. (But) the receivers group came in here on their own on Tuesday and watched film," Cassel said. "The tight ends group and the running backs group, the quarterback group. You just saw all these groups coming, and they're watching film together and they're trying to get a head start, and that's great. That's what we need. We have to increase the intensity this week. Everybody understands the implications of what's up ahead."

One encouraging sign for Cassel and the Chiefs is their history of rebounding from tough losses. They reeled off three wins in a row after being drilled at Denver and won their next two following a 31-0 setback at San Diego.

Cassel, after missing one game because of an emergency appendectomy, came back and played well in a 27-13 victory at St. Louis.

"We've been able to bounce back all year," he said. "That helps give us confidence."

Cassel also had a new wide receiver to throw to on Wednesday. With Pro Bowl pick Dwayne Boweabsent from practice with what the Chiefs described as illness, the team signed free agent Kevin Curtis, a veteran who has spent time with the Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams.

Cassel said he would be comfortable throwing to Curtis on Sunday if that's what is needed.

"If he's out there, there's a reason he's out there," Cassel said. "We believe and the coaches believe that he can get the job done. That's why he's out there in the first place."

If Bowe is out, that would transfer a big load to Chris Chambers, who has made seven starts and caught 22 passes for 213 yards and one TD. But unlike Bowe and many other young Chiefs players, Chambers has playoff experience to draw from with the Dolphins and San Diego Chargers.

"Everything seems to go faster in the playoffs," he said. "It's also the most exciting time of any season for any player. And that's a great defense we'll be facing. Ed Reed makes everybody around him better. That's the mark of a great player."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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