In what was billed as the potential “game of the year” not just for the Ravens or Chiefs alone but for the entire NFL season, one team showed up and the other did not. Unfortunately, the Ravens were on the wrong side of the equation.
Kansas City dictated the tempo and had their way with the Ravens early on both sides of the ball, accumulating a lead that Baltimore could not overcome.
Some gut-wrenching takeways below . . .
1) There is no “rivalry”
For the better part of the last year or so, many in the national media, along with fans and spectators, have billed the Ravens and Chiefs as a rivalry — in large part due to the quarterback matchup of Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes.
It’s time to put this false narrative to bed.
The Chiefs simply have the Ravens number and until further notice, there is no rivalry to be found here. Not between Jackson and Mahomes; not between the Ravens and Chiefs.
Jackson is now 0-3 against the Chiefs in his young career, and the Ravens have not beaten Kansas City against since 2012. If a few more bounces go the Ravens in their matchups against the Chiefs in 2018 and 2019, sure — maybe they win those games. And sure, we saw a somewhat, brief valiant comeback effort in the second half.
But it doesn’t matter in the big picture.
Baltimore’s super bowl aspirations begin and end with going through the defending champions. Until further notice, the prospects of that happening do not appear to be favorable for the Ravens.
2) The little things loom large
Against a team like the Chiefs, there’s very little room for error. Unfortunately, the Ravens made a number of small errors on Monday night that accumulated and had a large impact in the final result.
After scoring a field goal on the opening drive, the Ravens next possession was derailed before it began when Nick Boyle was flagged for a 10-yard tripping penalty. Strangely enough, it seemed like that lone moment took the wind out of Baltimore’s sails. From there on out, they failed to muster anything offensively in the first half.
A few dropped passes early also factored into the onslaught. Then, the Ravens thwarted a golden opportunity to climb back into the game in the third quarter. In a span of three plays, Mark Andrews dropped a would-be touchdown pass and Orlando Brown Jr. was flagged for a false start on 4th-&-2, forcing the Ravens to settle for a field goal.
Of course here’s no guarantee that the Ravens convert on that fourth down, but they were in the midst of a 12-play drive and had begun to build some momentum. Factor in some costly miscommunications defensively, and it’s easy to see why the final score was what it was.
3) Outcoached and outsmarted
“Players play and coaches coach.”
The Ravens were certainly outplayed on the field, but there was a clear discrepancy between the coaching execution and gameplans of these two teams. Simply put, the Chiefs were ready for everything Baltimore threw at them defensively and used the Ravens aggressiveness against them.
“Wink Martindale” did not waver from his blitz-heavy style and threw some complex looks together, per usual. The problem was Andy Reid called a handful of crafty plays and Patrick Mahomes was near-perfect against the blitz, tossing three touchdowns and 202 passing yards in those situations.
Kansas City emphasized quick ball delivery to counteract Martindale’s aggressiveness. When the Ravens did manufacture some pressure and got in Mahomes circle, he found a way to adlib and make a play out of nothing — as he so often does.
On the other side of the ball, Greg Roman called a bit of a head-scratching game and it seemed like the Ravens were totally thrown for a loop after the first drive. They could get nothing going downfield and almost everything underneath was snuffed out by Kansas City’s defense.
The Ravens averaged 8.0 YPC and rushed for 159 yards, but it only resulted in a total of 13 offensive points. That isn’t good enough to beat a handful of teams in the NFL, not just the reigning champions.
4) Unleash the Duvernay, please
If there was one bright spot on Monday night, it was rookie wide receiver Devin Duvernay, who single-handedly accounted for seven of Baltimore’s 20 points. Duvernay ripped off a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter, which was easily the Ravens biggest play of the night.
It was the first time the Ravens have scored a return touchdown on special teams since 2015 and also the first kickoff touchdown in the NFL this season. Duvernay showcased his elusiveness and track-like speed in the open field. Take this play away and the final score is likely even worse than it was.
Offensively, Duvernay caught two his three targets but they only resulted for a total of seven receiving yards. He’s been effective as a return man but has been little involved on offense so far this season. It might be time for that to change.
Duvernay can clearly make plays with the ball in his hands and it would be nice to see Roman incorporate him more into the game plan moving forward.
5) Time to lick wounds and move on
A disappointing loss? Surely. A failed opportunity to make a statement? Certainly.
A crushing blow? Not so much.
The Ravens failed to bring their A-game against Kansas City — far from it. They came out flat and were outplayed on both sides of the ball. In such a highly-anticipated, hyped-up matchup, it was a tough watch and a difficult pill to swallow.
However, looking at the big picture, let’s keep in mind that it’s only Week 3 of the season.
While this result stings, the Ravens best and only course of action is to look ahead and focus on what’s in front of them. They’re now a game back in the division behind Pittsburgh but have a favorable matchup against Washington this coming Sunday.
When the Ravens lost to the Chiefs in Week 3 of the 2019 season, they followed it up with an even worse performance against the Browns in the next game. I’d be willing to bet that this doesn’t happen this time around.
The Ravens were handed a huge slice of humble pie tonight. It’s imperative that they consume it and use it to fuel themselves moving forward.