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Ravens News 9/30: Not discouraged and more

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Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

You Can’t Settle for Field Goals Against Patrick Mahomes - Rodger Sherman

The Ravens received the opening kickoff and went on to claim a lead—but instead of trying to score a touchdown, they opted to kick a field goal when faced with a fourth-and-3 from the Chiefs’ 8-yard line. The Ravens are probably better equipped to get a first down on fourth-and-3 than any other team in the league. They have Jackson, a slew of talented running backs, and an inventive scheme that forces opponents to defend the entire line of scrimmage. They went 17-of-24 on fourth-down conversions last season. And yet, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh decided not to go for seven points against the best player in the sport. In the end, the field goal didn’t matter—Kansas City won 34-20. But by kicking it, the Ravens signaled that they weren’t dedicated to maximizing every possession.

The Ravens should honestly know better. They’re now 0-3 against Mahomes, with the other two losses coming by one possession. In last year’s game, a 33-28 Kansas City victory, the Ravens made two questionable decisions to punt. In the second quarter, they punted on a fourth-and-4 from their own 43-yard line; three plays later, Mahomes found Mecole Hardman for an 83-yard touchdown. In the third quarter, Sam Koch boomed a 52-yard touchback on a fourth-and-5 from just shy of midfield; the Chiefs scored a touchdown eight plays later. The Ravens lost by five after twice taking the ball out of the MVP’s hands in the name of improving field position, only for Mahomes to score two touchdowns anyway.

NFL Week 3 MNF: Five takeaways from the Kansas City Chiefs’ 34-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens - Anthony Treash

NO OFFENSE HAS COME REMOTELY CLOSE TO CRUSHING THE RAVENS’ BLITZ AS MUCH AS KANSAS CITY DID LAST NIGHT

Ever since Wink Martindale took over as Baltimore’s defensive coordinator in 2018, the Ravens have been one of the heaviest blitzing teams in the NFL. He’s dialed up a blitz on 49.2% of their defensive plays since then, the highest rate in the NFL by over 8 percentage points.

The Ravens blitzed Mahomes at a high rate in their first two matchups in 2018 and 2019, and that remained true in their Week 3 matchup — they sent a blitz on 47% of his dropbacks. Most quarterbacks have struggled against Baltimore’s blitz, but Mahomes is a different breed.

He shredded it in their 2018 matchup, as his passing grade that game on such plays — as well as Kansas City’s expected points added per pass figure — was the best in the Martindale era. Mahomes managed to top that on Monday Night Football by quite a bit. He led the Chiefs to 1.02 expected points added per pass when the Ravens blitzed, which was two times as high as the previous best against Martindale’s defense.

Mahomes earned a 93.2 passing grade against Baltimore’s blitz, completing 19 passes on 23 attempts for 255 yards and three scores in the process. Three of those pass attempts were 20-plus yards downfield, and all three were a big-time throw.

No other quarterback can carve up a blitz like Mahomes.

DEFENSIVE NOTES WEEK 3 KANSAS CITY CHIEFS @ BALTIMORE RAVENS - Ken McKusick

Notes on the third-down plays:

Mahomes had amazing touch on all but one of the passes. Not only was each pass thrown either for the TD or for the conversion, but most were spotted for good YAC potential.

The Chiefs took advantage of the Ravens pass rush aggressiveness on multiple plays including once with a nigh impossible coverage matchup (Judon on Hardman) and another stunt by Judon which exposed the right edge.

When there was pressure, Mahomes stepped free or delivered accurately before taking the hit.

Something well within the Ravens control was understanding how to break down bunch coverages off the line. They did it poorly all night, allowing some easy pitch-and-catch throws. It would have been much less upsetting (and would have entailed less YAC) to watch Mahomes dissect trailing coverages.

Patrick Queen (46 snaps) played poorly and was replaced by Malik Harrison and Chris Board for 17 snaps following his horse collar tackle:

(Q2, 12:55): He was not in position to cover or tackle Sherman on the 5-yard shovel pass TD. Sure, he could have been blocked anyway, but his positioning removed any chance to impact the play.

(Q3, 14:53): He tried to jam Edwards-Helaire at the LOS, but made almost no contact, which allowed the Chiefs RB to run under a 25-yard wheel route down the left sideline.

(Q3, 14:13): On the very next play, he dragged down Tyreek Hill by the right sideline and was flagged for a horse collar tackle. The call might have been ticky-tack, but he spoiled a good play diagnosis by not simply pushing Hill out of bounds.

Week 4 NFL Rookie Power Rankings: Joe Burrow steals top spot from sidelined Chase Young - Josh Edwards

9. Patrick Queen

BALTIMORE RAVENS LB

Kansas City exploited Queen’s aggressiveness a bit on Monday night but the rookie flies around the field like a banshee. There are some nuances that will come with more experience but the future looks bright for the linebacker.

How the Ravens Plan to Regroup After Tough Loss - Clifton Brown

“You don’t want to sit and sulk,” cornerback Jimmy Smith said. “We have a lot of young guys, so the first thing you have to do is, tomorrow, get back, go watch the film, see what happened; don’t be sensitive when you see stuff that happened to you on the plays. Just get in there [and] correct it. Let’s fix it, because we have a game in six days, so we don’t have time to sit there and sulk about anything.

“We don’t have a team of quitters. But this is going to be a learning lesson for everybody who’s young on this team – to face a team like that, a champion on our home field, and they came out and played way better than us. They can all take that as a lesson. It’s just one game, it’s not the Super Bowl. We understand that they’re the champions right now, and they played like it.”

“I’m not discouraged. I don’t think we’re discouraged at all,” Smith said. “I think the good thing about playing a team like that – that is just hitting on all cylinders right now – is they can show you where we’re weak at, and they did. So, we get the chance to go back and fix it.”