The Ravens were one play away from the upset.
After Lamar Jackson orchestrated a late-game touchdown drive, the Ravens led Kansas City, 24-17, with just 89 seconds to play, and the Chiefs facing a fourth-and-9 from their own 40-yard line. A defensive stop likely would have sealed Baltimore's fourth straight victory, keeping them in prime position in the AFC playoff race.
Instead, the Chiefs delivered a gut punch that feels all too familiar.
The Ravens forced Kansas City's dynamic quarterback Patrick Mahomes out of the pocket on the fourth-down play, and he heaved a pass over the middle of the field. Speedy receiver Tyreek Hill tracked the football between linebacker C.J. Mosley, cornerback Jimmy Smith, safety Chuck Clark and safety Eric Weddle, then turned upfield for a 48-yard gain.
"I thought I was there," Mosley said. "It felt like it was in the air for 10, 15 seconds, and he just made a play."
The Chiefs scored a game-tying touchdown four plays later, sending the game to overtime, where they would come away with a 27-24 victory.
Kansas City's touchdown on that final drive of reguation also came on fourth down, when Mahomes found running back Damien Williams for a 5-yard score. Williams snuck out of the backfield and was wide open as he cruised into the end zone.
The Chiefs opened overtime with the football, and their offense marched down the field on an 11-play drive that ended in a field goal. That series took up five minutes and 18 seconds, which limited what Baltimore's run-heavy offense could do on the ensuing possession, and the Chiefs defense stopped the Ravens to give them the win.
"At the end of the day, it just came down to the fact that they made more plays than we did," Mosley said. "They made the plays they had to at the end of the game. We played a heck of a game – offense, defense and special teams – it was a battle back and forth. But they made enough plays to get it done."
The common thread in Sunday' loss was that Mahomes seemed to beat the Ravens on improvised plays when he moved outside the pocket. That's exactly what happened on the fourth-down conversion to Hill at the end of the fourth quarter.
"Mahomes did what he's been doing all season – just buying time, scrambling," veteran cornerback Brandon Carr said. "It turns into backyard football. [Mahomes] to [Hill], that combination has been deadly all year. And he found a way to sneak past our defenders once again and prolong the game."
The finish spoiled what was a strong performance for Baltimore's defense until the final minute and a half of regulation. The defense made Mahomes uncomfortable in the pocket by bringing pressure, and the secondary largely kept Hill under wraps.
Sunday's matchup featured the NFL's top scoring defense going up against the top scoring offense, and the Ravens limited the Chiefs for much of the day in a way that no other team had. But once Mahomes and Hill heated up at the end of the game, they seemed nearly impossible to stop.
Mahomes finished with 377 passing yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception on 35-of-53 passing. Hill had eight catches for 139 yards, and tight end Travis Kelce had seven catches for 77 yards.
"We played them tough, but it comes down to finishing ballgames," Carr said. "We let them off the hook a couple times. We have to learn from this."
As well as the Ravens defense played for most of Sunday, the veteran players on the unit weren't interested in celebrating a near-upset. The group believes they have the team to win those kinds of games, and their next challenge is to prove they can do it. Last year, Baltimore fell short of the playoffs after a fourth-and-12 conversion by Andy Dalton, Tyler Boyd and the Bengals.
"We didn't come here for no morale victory," veteran Terrell Suggs said. "We didn't come here to do well against a 10-2 team. No. We came to win.
"We still got some work to do. Despite everything that we did well, it still wasn't good enough. They made a few more plays than us."