Patrick Mahomes is shaping up to becoming one of the best quarterbacks of all time. Such a notion is reflected in his recent, record-setting contract extension spanning over ten years and worth a grand total of 500 million dollars.
The unfortunate reality is that the Ravens will have to compete with Mahomes and the Chiefs every single year for the foreseeable future. Under the era of Lamar Jackson, the Ravens are currently winless against the Chiefs in two very close regular season games.
What I want to focus on is the most recent game against the Chiefs.
Ever since the emergence of Mahomes as a superstar, the Chiefs have been put on a pedestal atop of the NFL. The Ravens, too, put the Chiefs on the same pedestal and make them out to be this colossal giant that destroys everything it its path. In essence, I feel that some coaches as well as players view the Chiefs as this powerhouse that must be outsmarted through a differently devised game plan. That’s exactly what the Ravens did; they diverted away from their true game plan. Were the Chiefs a better football team than the Ravens? No. But the Ravens failed to stick to their identity as a run-first football team and let mental mistakes get the best of them.
In the Ravens’ first drive of the game, Jackson throws the ball seven times and completed four of them. The drive as a whole spans 14 plays as the offense converts a short fourth down and three deep in Chiefs territory, eventually leading to pay dirt. The Ravens take the early lead against the Chiefs!
Then the puzzling decision to skip out on the extra point and go for a two-point conversion is made. This is the first instance of questionable decision making. As you can guess, the two-point try failed, which left the Ravens only with a six-point lead.
In a big game, especially against a team like the Chiefs, points must be put up. However, going for two in the first quarter against Mahomes and the Chiefs is a very high-risk decision. I feel that Coach Harbaugh overthought the process and, as a result, faced the consequences of leaving Justin Tucker on the sideline. Despite Jackson’s greatness throughout last season, his inexperience in successfully executing two-point conversions was evident and should've been taken into consideration.
The Chiefs score on the ensuing drive to take a 7-6 lead.
In response to the Chiefs taking the lead, the Ravens continually relied on Jackson’s arm to regain the lead. Jackson threw the ball four more times and completed half of his attempts. The most puzzling part of that drive was, once again, the decision making of Coach Harbaugh. On a 4th Down and two at the Baltimore 47-yard line, a designed passing play rather than a run was called for. Jackson failed to complete the pass resulting in a turnover on downs only to give Mahomes and the Chiefs superb field position to extend their lead. Both Coach Harbaugh’s decision to go for it and the play call made by Coach Greg Roman seemed very questionable.
The Chiefs take advantage of the prime field position and extend their lead to 14-6.
On the following drive, a huge Gus Edwards run is called back due to a Willie Snead holding call. This kills the drive and the Chiefs end up with the ball with 4:26 left in the half. Mecole Hardman takes a pass and uses his track speed to score a long touchdown to extend the Chiefs lead even further.
After getting the ball back due to another stalled offensive drive by the Ravens, the Chiefs close out the half with a field goal and a 23-6 lead.
The Ravens receive the ball to start the second half, score a touchdown, and eat into the deficit. Chiefs are up 23-13. This drive was the best offensive drive by the Ravens all game. In a nine-play drive, the Ravens run the ball eight times, march down the field, and put the ball in Mark Ingram’s hands for the score. At this juncture of the game, the Ravens finally revert back to their run-first identity.
After a couple of stalled drives among both offenses, the Chiefs extend their lead to 30-13.
In response, the Ravens, after a Lamar Jackson prayer throw to Seth Roberts, score a touchdown of their own as Ingram punches the ball in at the goal line. Interestingly enough, Coach Harbaugh goes for the two-point conversion once gain with the Ravens down 30-19. Though I understood Coach Harbaugh’s decision in this situation, I didn’t agree with it. Trying to cut into a ten point deficit rather than an eleven point deficit early in the fourth quarter quarter is much more manageable. If the Ravens simply allow Tucker to nail the extra point, the score would be 30-20 with 12:22 left in the fourth quarter. However, Harbaugh sought to put the Ravens in a position to potentially hit a game-winning field goal. The conversion failed as an incomplete pass was thrown.
After a three-and-out by the Chiefs, the Ravens use ten plays to put three more points on the board to have the score be 30-22.
The Chiefs respond with a crucial field goal to extend their lead to 33-22 with 4:36 left in the fourth quarter.
Needing to score, Jackson and the Ravens offense take advantage of the Chiefs zone looks and gain chunk yardage throughout the drive. Eventually, Jackson uses his legs and scores a touchdown himself to trim the lead to 33-28. Needing to successfully execute the two-point conversion, the offense fails to do so for a third time in the game.
With 2:01 left in the fourth quarter, all the Chiefs need is a first down to win the game. A third-down screen pass to Damien Williams seals the deal for Kansas City with a final score of 33-28.
The Ravens lose an absolute nail biter. Though the Ravens were very close to making a comeback, the mature and unflinching Chiefs closed out the game with kneel downs. As close as the game was, I felt that coaching was With the exception of Coach Harbaugh’s extremely risky decision making on offense, the Ravens would've had a great chance of defeating the Chiefs.
Defensively, mental mistakes are really what really gave the Chiefs multiple extra chances to put up more points. Both personal foul calls on third downs and penalties that wiped away takeaways extended drives for Mahomes and his offense. That being said, the Chiefs offense was playing lights out for the entirety of the game. However, the Ravens defense was only a couple of stops away from taking control of the game.
I believe coaching needs to improve for this season's matchup between the Ravens and Chiefs. I felt that Coach Harbaugh was trying to do too much in last season’s matchup. That being said, Coach Harbaugh is one of the best coaches in the business and has what it takes to coach the Ravens to a victory over the Chiefs. Additionally, play calling must be altered to favor the ground and pound Baltimore offense. The addition of Dobbins directly points to the Ravens doing exactly that on a weekly basis this season.
How the Ravens can beat the Chiefs this season
This season, the Ravens’ defense is much more equipped to handle a superb Chiefs offense. With what will be a much improved pass-rush in addition to the promising youth of the team’s linebacking corps, the Ravens could really have the defensive tools to limit the scoring of Mahomes. In addition, the Baltimore secondary looks to be just as consistent as last year’s.
Consistency in coaching will be essential as well as better decision making will both be needed to outplay Andy Reid and his team. Being more wary of field position in addition to the consequences that come from making a high-risk decision will allow for more clarity when debating on a decision to be made.
Offensively, I feel that the Ravens have more firepower to compete with the high-powered Chiefs offense. With the much improved health of Marquise Brown as well as the addition of J.K. Dobbins to the backfield, the team now has a multitude of weapons that can all contribute big plays. I anticipate that the legs of Ingram, Edwards, and Dobbins will be prioritized over those of Jackson to move the ball on the ground. Constantly having tough yet fresh ball-carriers will wear down the Chiefs defensive front and allow for more success to come through the air as well as with Jackson’s legs when he decides to scramble.
Another piece of information that should be mentioned is that Lamar Jackson has zero wins and two losses against Patrick Mahomes. He absolutely doesn't want to go 0-3. Jackson is itching for that first win.
As a team overall, I feel that the Ravens are much improved and better equipped to overcome teams like the Kansas City Chiefs. That being said, expect a Week 3 barn burner on Monday Night Football.