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Ravens News 9/29: Troubling trend and more

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Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images

What we learned from Chiefs’ 34-20 win over Ravens - Grant Gordon

Just as impressive as Mahomes was at the onset, Lamar Jackson was underwhelming, as his throws were awry and his offense was stymied in another high-profile matchup. Only seven of his 15 first-half attempts found a receiver and he had just 35 yards through the air, and the Ravens limped into the half without an offensive score with only 97 yards. Rarely helped by his receivers, whose hands consistently failed them, Jackson had 41 yards on the ground in the first 30 minutes – the only promising offensive number for Baltimore in that span. But this was an overwhelmed offense unable to keep up with its Chiefs counterparts. To Jackson’s credit, no fight was left on the field as a second-half salvo made the game close. Still, it was poor showing. For the game, Jackson finished with 97 yards through the air and with the team’s first defeat of the season. Jackson is now 0-3 vs. Mahomes and must quickly shake off an ugly night – and all the scrutiny likely to come with a night in which he looked nothing like the reigning MVP.

For as bad as the Ravens were offensively, the Chiefs defense surely played a part in the ugliness. Chris Jones had four tackles and a pair of sacks in the first half to lead a Chiefs contingent that missed the memo about this being a shootout. The Chiefs offense will garner the attention and the marquee and continue to put up mind-spinning numbers. But an improving defense making this a balanced K.C. squad is just frightening for the rest of the NFL. For most of Monday, the Chiefs defense bewildered Jackson, the man who confounded all of the league just a season ago. Perhaps the Ravens’ offensive ineptitude was a fluke, but the Chiefs defense is no longer just a forgettable entity opposite an otherworldly offense.

NFL Week 3 PFF ReFocused: Kansas City Chiefs 34, Baltimore Ravens 20 - James Fragoza

Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy were the masterminds, calling and drawing up a plethora of unique plays that led to the offense’s success, even getting left tackle Eric Fisher and fullback Anthony Sherman into the end zone.

While Hill and Hardman were taking the top off the defense, Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins remained security blankets closer to the line of scrimmage. Kelce reeled in six of his eight seven targets for 46 yards and five first downs. Similarly, Watkins caught seven of eight passes thrown in his direction, procuring 62 yards and another five first downs.

While Mahomes was dicing up the Ravens’ defense on blitzes, Jackson was struggling to get anything going through the air. He completed just over 50% of his passes for a measly 3.5 yards per attempt, the lowest mark in a game this season. It did not help that his receivers dropped five passes — three from Mark Andrews and two from Marquise Brown.

Jackson was still able to do damage on the ground, as no defense can truly contain him. He gained 83 yards on nine carries and made Chiefs defenders look both silly and slow on numerous occasions.

However, credit Steve Spagnuolo and the Chiefs’ defense — they forced five incompletions and generated pressure on 23% of Jackson’s dropbacks. They also did a great job at disguising schemes to ensure he didn’t get comfortable.

Championship mettle? Ravens first need to solve the Chiefs - Jamison Hensley

In a hyped-up battle of the NFL’s top two teams, Jackson and the Ravens painfully found out how far they are from unseating Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in a humbling, 34-20 loss on Monday Night Football.

The Ravens’ defense hadn’t allowed more than 21 points in 13 straight games. On Monday night, Baltimore gave up 27 points to Kansas City in one half.

Troubling trend: Jackson has yet to lead a significant comeback. He is now 0-5 when trailing by 10 points at any point in the game. He also is 0-5 when trailing at halftime. Some of this is due to a lack of opportunities. Jackson and the Ravens had led at halftime in 11 straight games, which was one shy of tying an NFL record. But when faced with a large deficit, Jackson has struggled.

Eye-popping NextGen Stat: The one highlight was Baltimore rookie Devin Duvernay’s 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter. Duvernay’s top speed of 21.48 mph was the second fastest by an NFL ball carrier on a kickoff over the past two seasons. He traveled 110.4 yards of distance on the play, and he reached his top speed at the Chiefs’ 45-yard line.

The Breakdown: Five Thoughts on Loss to Chiefs - John Eisenberg

On a rough night for the defense, the unit did give the Ravens a fighting chance in the second half. Chuck Clark stopped a Kansas City drive by delivering a hit that forced a fumble – the Chiefs’ first turnover of 2020. A few minutes later, the defense stopped the Chiefs on a fourth-and-one at midfield, and the Ravens turned the opportunity into a touchdown that cut their deficit to seven, 27-20, at the outset of the fourth quarter, which seemed pretty remarkable given the one-sided nature of the game to that point. But that was the extent of the defense’s surge, as Mahomes and his offense responded as champions do, with a 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that lasted nearly seven minutes and included a pair of third down conversions. On that drive, which decided the game, the Ravens had a couple of chances to corral Mahomes, but he always escaped and pretty easily. For the night, he converted 10 of 13 third downs into firsts – another statistic that says it all.

Lost in a disappointing night was a monster game from nose tackle Brandon Williams, who registered seven unassisted tackles

The Ravens’ running backs actually started out on something of a roll, totaling four carries for 25 yards on the opening drive. But the backs had just eight carries for 50 yards the rest of the night as the Chiefs pulled farther and farther ahead