Heading into a much-anticipated matchup against the Chiefs in Week 3, the Ravens ultimately failed to avenge last year’s crushing loss in the same stadium. Porous defense, middling offense, and missed opportunities were too much to overcome.
Takeaways from the heartbreaking defeat:
1) Penalties. Penalties. Penalties.
After a prolonged opening scoring drive by the Ravens, the Chiefs responded with a touchdown of their own to take the lead - aided by two penalties on Baltimore. First, Pernell McPhee was flagged for a roughing the passer penalty after wrapping Mahomes up by the legs. This came after a 21-yard reception by Travis Kelce, resulting in a 36-yard total gain for Kansas City. Then, Matthew Judon was called for a horse-collar tackle after Mahomes had thrown the ball away on 3rd down. Judon forced Mahomes to the sideline and applied good pressure the penalty proved costly, as the Chiefs went on to score three plays later.
Then, in the second quarter, a 35-yard rush by Gus Edwards was negated by a holding penalty on WR Willie Snead IV - a crushing blow to a much-needed long gain. Edwards’ rush would have but Baltimore in Chiefs’ territory but the drive ultimately stalled and the Ravens punted it back to Kansas City, who then scored almost immediately after a 83-yard touchdown reception from Mecole Hardman. Perhaps the most crushing blow came late in the third quarter, when a pass interference flag on Tony Jefferson wiped out an interception by Brandon Carr that would have thwarted a Chiefs’ scoring drive that put them up 30-13.
Five penalties for 45 yards on the day doesn’t seem too bad on the surface, but it was the manner and timing in which they occured that proved costly.
2) Pass-rush fades after a strong start
On the Chiefs’ opening drive, the Ravens pass-rush was active and disruptive. McPhee and Patrick Onwuasor applied quarterback pressures and Matthew Judon sacked Mahomes for 11 yards on third down to force a punt by Kansas City. Even on the Chiefs following possession which resulted in a touchdown, McPhee, Judon, and Tim Williams got behind the line of scrimmage on numerous possessions. From there on, however, things took a downward spiral. Baltimore struggled to get pressure on Mahomes throughout the rest of the game, particularly in the second quarter. Mahomes routinely had between 4-6 seconds to operate in the pocket, which is too much time for most quarterbacks, let alone the MVP.
Much of Mahomes’ success on Sunday can be attributed to miscommunication and blown coverages in the secondary, but it’s hard to defend a passing attack of Kansas City’s caliber without a consistent pass-rush.
3) Questionable coaching decisions and aggressiveness ...
Baltimore left some points on the field in Arrowhead, some of which can be attributed to some head-scratching decisions from the coaching staff. John Harbaugh elected to attempt a two-point conversion instead of taking the extra point on three occasions. The first time came after a touchdown on the team’s first offensive possession and because of the empty result following Ingram’s rushing touchdown, the Chiefs took a 7-6 lead after their score on the next drive. Then, following another Ingram touchdown, another two-point attempt was unsuccessful and this time more costly. Baltimore could have kicked an extra point and been down 30-20, only needing a touchdown and field goal to tie the game. Instead, they went down 30-19, needing TWO touchdowns to give themselves a chance.
Having an aggressive mentality on the road, against one of the best teams in the league, can be a good thing - and the Ravens did convert multiple fourth-down attempts early in the game. However, leaving much-needed points on the board is not ideal and the Ravens could have used them late.
4) Baltimore’s secondary is leaky once again
Last week, the Cardinals found some success on vertical passing plays against the Ravens defensive backfield. Between miscommunications and missed assignments, Kyler Murray delivered several strikes to Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk, both of whom posted over 100 yards receiving. We talked about how Week 2 would be a good test for what was to come against Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City, and the secondary was once against challenged and struggled.
Mahomes gashed Baltimore for multiple 15+ yard passing plays, including an 18-yard touchdown and 83-yard touchdown in the second quarter. On the former, Demarcus Robinson beat Brandon Carr deep in the endzone and on the latter, Mecole Hardman streaked past a backpedaling Maurice Canady. On both plays, Earl Thomas came down in coverage and the Chiefs took advantage. Anthony Averett and Carr once again had up-and-down performances. Mahomes finished with 374 passing yards and just 10 incompletions.
5) Mark Ingram should be the offensive focal point going forward
On a day where not much went right offensively for the majority of the game, Mark Ingram was a serious bright spot. Ingram was dominant from start-to-finish and proved to be no match for Kansas City’s defensive front. Consistently ripping off runs of five yards or more, Ingram totaled 103 rushing yards on the day on just 16 carries (6.4 YPC). He also caught four passes for 32 yards, showcasing his value in the receiving game. His most important contribution, however, came when the Ravens were in scoring territory, as Ingram found the endzone three times - bringing his touchdown total to five on the season.
Through three games, Ingram now has two games with 100+ rushing yards. Sunday demonstrated that for as explosive as the passing attack can be when Lamar Jackson is connecting with Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown on big plays, much of the team’s offensive success may be determined by Ingram’s legs.
6) Lamar Jackson falls back down to earth
After setting the NFL landscape on fire in Weeks 1 and 2, Lamar Jackson regressed to the mean against the Chiefs in a big way. Jackson looked relatively shaky from the start and his accuracy was inconsistent throughout the first three quarters. After beginning the game 3/7, Jackson had completed just 8/19 of his passes by halftime and finished the contest just one completion above 50%. His confidence seemed to waver after missing on a few deep shots to Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews early in the game and the passing attack never took off following the opening drive.
However, despite his struggles for much of the contest, Jackson showcased impressive resiliency in the fourth quarter to lead a valiant comeback effort. Jackson orchestrated scoring drives 59 and 75 yards to cut the deficit to eight points, and followed it up by scoring a video game-like rushing touchdown to give Baltimore a chance late. Far from a polished or impressive performance overall, but his bounce-back effort in the final frame of play should serve himself and the team positively moving forward.