The Baltimore Ravens had a chance to take down the best team in the conference and solidify themselves as legitimate Super Bowl contenders last Sunday. Baltimore entered the game as gigantic underdogs but fought hard throughout. Despite not being considered a real threat, the Chiefs allowed the Ravens to capture a seven-point lead with just minutes to go in the ball-game. The Ravens could not hold back the determined Chiefs, however, and Baltimore suffered their first loss since November. The Ravens were not supposed to compete with the Chiefs, and the Ravens kept things too close for comfort. How were the Baltimore Ravens able to keep the score close? The answer lies in the tape.
The Ravens effort to win the game came from all sides of the ball. The offense continued to use a run-heavy approach that worked in past weeks. While the run game continued to gain the Ravens yards on the ground and take the pressure to pass off of Lamar Jackson, it did not give the Ravens the advantage in the time of possession battle. The Ravens held the ball for 31:27 while the Chiefs kept possession for 37:00. This is significant, as the Ravens won the time of possession battle with the “Lamar Jackson effect” for the previous three weeks. But the Ravens did not need to outlast the Chiefs to play well on defense. Baltimore kept the league’s highest scoring team to just 24 points at the end of regulation.
The run game was again the engine for Baltimore’s offensive attack, but the Ravens were able to expand into the air assault as well. Lamar Jackson played his best game yet. He completed 13/24 passes (54.17%) for 147 yards and two touchdowns. One of Jackson’s touchdowns gave Baltimore the lead late in the game. He lobbed a perfect pass to John Brown for the touchdown. Jackson’s performance was not perfect, however. Late in the game, he folded under pressure. The Ravens had a bit of time left in the game after the Chiefs tied the score. Before he could pass the ball, Jackson was strip-sacked, which set up the Chiefs for a game-winning field goal they ultimately missed. Regardless, Jackson’s performance throughout the game was enough to keep the Ravens in it.
Jackson and the Ravens got into trouble in overtime, however. After the Chiefs took a field goal lead in overtime, the Ravens only needed a touchdown to win. The Ravens were forced into a passing situation and the rookie quarterback struggled to extend the drive. Baltimore was put into the position by a Ronnie Stanley holding penalty, which backed Baltimore up by 10 yards. On the next play, Lamar Jackson was sacked and left the field injured. In came Robert Griffin III who put the Ravens in a position to extend the drive, but the offense ultimately came up short.
To get to overtime, the Ravens had to rely on the defense. The defensive performance hinged on the pass rush’s ability to make Mahomes uneasy. Mahomes was both pressured and hit often. He looked visibly confused and uneasy on the field as he faced the Ravens pass rush that sacked him trice. The Chiefs opted to let the MVP candidate throw the ball 53 times, but he only completed 35 passes for 377 yards and two touchdowns. Mahomes mixed his bad plays with good plays, as he made the occasional errant throw.
The Ravens secondary was subject throughout the game. Players like cornerback Jimmy Smith and safety Chuck Clark played very well, while cornerback Marlon Humphrey and safety Eric Weddle played poorly. Humphrey was obviously bothered by both an injury and the impossible task to cover Travis Kelce. Weddle showed his age, as he was slow and not able to make athletic plays that the Ravens needed him to make. Despite these complications, the Ravens defense was still an asset. By holding the Chiefs to just 24 points, the defense allowed the offense to keep pace and force overtime.
Ultimately, the Ravens could not hang on in overtime. The Baltimore Ravens fought hard throughout the game, but Kansas City was too big a challenge. Both the offense and defense faltered in crunch time. The defense held throughout most of the game but allowed two huge conversions on fourth downs on the Chiefs drive to tie the game. On the first-fourth down, Mahomes launched a deep bomb to Tyreek Hill, and on the other, a touchdown to Travis Kelce. The defensive meltdown was coupled with an offensive implosion. The Ravens turned the ball over and almost lost the game in regulation, While Baltimore lucked out in the fourth quarter, the Ravens offense failed to move in the fourth, resulting in Baltimore’s first loss since November.