The Baltimore Ravens entered Kansas City as major underdogs. No one, not even the die-hard ultra-optimistic fan posing as a serious commentator, picked the Ravens to win or even compete with the Chiefs. Without any doubt, the Chiefs are the AFC’s best team right now. The Chiefs have a quarterback favored to win the league MVP award, offensive weapons on every corner of the field, and one of the best coaching staffs in the NFL. The Ravens, on the other hand, have an unproven rookie quarterback making his fourth start, aged veterans, and a coaching staff that was almost ran out of town. The Chiefs should have won this game easily, but what happens on paper and what happens, in reality, are two very different things.
In the previously linked Preview & Predictions article, I named three keys to the game. If the Baltimore Ravens sustained long and successful drives on offense, slowed the Kansas City offensive onslaught, and saw a confident Lamar Jackson under center, I said that the Ravens would win win the game. As if the Ravens read my post, Baltimore checked off all three boxes for most of the game.
The Ravens offense was successful in consistently moving the ball down the field, especially on the ground. The run game was crucial, as the team rushed for 198 yards, and used the attack as the engine of the offense. The Ravens first touchdown came on an eight-play drive, consisting of only runs. Baltimore’s offense would convert opportunities into two more touchdowns, and one field goal by the fourth quarter. This was crucial for the Ravens, who struggled to capitalize on red-zone chances against the Falcons. Lamar Jackson led the offense with poise. Rarely was he flustered. Although he was not the most efficient passer, he continued to get the job done on the ground. Jackson finished the day with 13/24 completions for 147 yards and two touchdowns and 71 rushing yards.
While the Ravens offense was consistently capitalizing on opportunities, the defense provided the Kansas City offense its first true challenge this season. The Chiefs were held to 24 points at the end of regulation, the lowest total for Kansas City at home this year. The group held the Chiefs to a low score despite great gains by Kansas City. MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes completed 35 of 53 pass attempts, for 377 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Spencer Ware led the team on the ground for good numbers. He ran the ball 15 times to gain 75 yards. The Ravens bend but don’t break mentality served them well, and almost won Baltimore the game.
The Ravens ultimately lost the game as both sides of the ball crumbled in the fourth quarter. Cyrus Jones set Baltimore up in prime field position at the 14-yard line, and the offense grabbed the go-ahead touchdown. But the Ravens could not stop Kansas City from keeping up. On two fourth-down plays, the Chiefs converted for a 48 yard gain and touchdown respectively. When Baltimore got the ball back, Lamar Jackson fumbled it, and the Chiefs recovered. The Ravens lucked out that Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker missed the would-be game-winning field goal. In overtime, the Ravens defense held Kansas City to a field goal, but the offense could not match it.
Although the Ravens lost, it proves that Baltimore is capable of going up against the heavy hitters of the conference. The defense held the best offense in the conference to 27 points, and the offense was able to keep pace. Ultimately, the Ravens fell short, but fans should feel confident about the team going forward. The division rival Steelers lost to the now 3-10 Oakland Raiders on Sunday, and Baltimore remains just half a game behind Pittsburgh in the race for the division crown. The fight down the stretch will be difficult, but the Ravens have a very good chance to win their first division title since 2012.