Five thoughts on the Ravens' 34-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs Monday night at M&T Bank Stadium:
It was just what the Ravens wanted, a Monday night home game against the reigning Super Bowl champions. But their chance to show the football world they're as good as advertised turned into a nightmare of sorts, as they were outplayed on both sides of the ball. It was the Kansas City Chiefs who made the statement, showing they're still the top team in the NFL and certainly better than their primary challengers. You almost expected Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs' offense to cause problems, because they always do, and oh, did they. But it was surprising to see Lamar Jackson and the Ravens' offense basically lay an egg, failing to produce a touchdown in the first three quarters as the Chiefs sailed away on the scoreboard. Baltimore kept playing hard and made it a one-score game in the fourth quarter, but the Chiefs shrugged off the rally. Even if the Ravens rebound to win a bunch of games in the coming weeks, they'll be haunted by this humbling on their home field. "They played way better than us. They're the champions and they played like it," Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith said.
Coming in, the Ravens' defense hoped to limit Mahomes to some degree by putting him under pressure, and also hoped their strong secondary could keep a lid on the Chiefs' speedy receivers. Well, neither goal was achieved. Mahomes not only scrambled away from the pressure but also made the Ravens pay for being aggressive, effectively using misdirection plays such as screen passes, jet screens and a nifty underhanded touchdown pass to fullback Anthony Sherman. Meanwhile, on the back end, Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters struggled to contain the Chiefs' Tyreek Hill, Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce was constantly open in the middle of the field and the Ravens simply seemed to lose track of the Chiefs' Mecole Hardman on a touchdown pass that served as a dagger of sorts late in the second quarter. Mahomes deserves a tip of the cap, as he had a huge game with 385 passing yards and a 133.5 passer rating. But the statistic that said the most was zero, the number of times the Ravens sacked him.
The Ravens' offense hasn't experienced many games like this since Jackson became the starting quarterback in 2018. Neither their running game nor their downfield passing game really materialized. Their line struggled to open holes or give Jackson a pocket. The Chiefs' defenders seemed to know what was coming and moved well laterally to keep Baltimore receivers from getting open as Jackson rolled out and looked downfield. Hollywood Brown didn't catch a pass until late in the fourth quarter. Jackson did get loose on a few scrambles and finished with a game-high 84 yards rushing, but the plays weren't game-changers. The primary issue was the line, which struggled against the Chiefs' active and energetic D-line led by tackle Chris Jones, who totaled two sacks, two forced fumbles and two quarterback hits. After the game, Jackson said the Chiefs' defensive game plan reminded him of the game plan the Tennessee Titans used to defeat the Ravens in the playoffs last season. He didn't elaborate but it's an angle to monitor going forward.
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.
Short takes: Devin Duvernay produced the Ravens' top play of the night, a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, which kept Baltimore in the game as everything else went awry in the first half. The rookie exhibited tremendous speed on his sprint down the sideline … Duvernay's touchdown cut the Chiefs' lead to 13-10, and what happened in the next few minutes was telling. The Ravens' defense forced a three-and-out, giving Jackson and the offense the ball with a chance to take the lead. But the drive went nowhere and the Ravens' momentum fizzled … 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 … The loss ended the Ravens' 14-game regular-season winning streak.