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What the Chiefs Said After Beating Ravens in AFC Championship

From left: S Kyle Hamilton, Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes
From left: S Kyle Hamilton, Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes

Head Coach Andy Reid

Opening statement:

"My hat goes off to the Ravens and the city of Baltimore. You've got a great football team. We appreciated your hospitality. It's a great environment to play in. Then how about the Chiefs? I mean, what a great deal that was. I thought our guys played hard, aggressive football. It always starts with the offensive and defensive line. They came out with a purpose here and played their hearts out. Pat Mahomes did a great job again, as he normally does. But starting the game off with 11 completions, that's something special, then to manage the game. Kind of thrown by the side is him taking a sack there at the end as opposed to trying to fit the ball in. He took the sack, kept the clock running. Good things happened there at that particular time.

"Then, our defense was outstanding. We were able to get a lead, and we were able to maintain that lead and did it with great personality there, as they've done throughout the season. My hat goes ought to Spags [Steve Spagnuolo], to Nags [Matt Nagy], and to [Dave] Toub for the jobs that they've done as coordinators putting things together. Most of all keeping the hope up when things weren't going as well. MVS [Marques Valdez-Scantling] is a picture of that. People coming down on him everywhere, he keeps it right there and does a great job with it. Just phenomenal. That kid, he's taken a beating here, and he was able to just hang in there and battle, so... Anyway..."

The pass to MVS at the end, was that difficult to call?

"No, it wasn't hard to call. Just a couple words (smiling). It was zero blitz. We knew it was going to be zero blitz, at least had a good idea. You never know, but we thought it would. It was. Got MVS in a great position right there. I'm losing my voice here. [We] got him in a great position to make the play."

Your defensive gameplan, how difficult was that to come up with and how do you feel like you executed?

"I thought we did a great job. That's an explosive offense. Looking at categories of efficiency, they're number one in a few spots there. You've got to make sure when you come in with that that you keep that quarterback somewhat in the pocket the best you can. He's an unbelievable competitor, so... I thought our guys were able to do that up front. I thought our linebackers did a good job. We asked them to not only cover tight ends, a great tight end, but also these receivers at times. A variety of things he was throwing at them at the offense. I thought our guys did a nice job with all that."

QB Patrick Mahomes

On the pass to WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling at the end:

"Coach [Andy] Reid had the confidence to give us a chance to throw the ball in that situation. They brought some pressure. Obviously, [they] were very concerned with what Travis [Kelce] was doing. I looked at it; I think it was Rashee [Rice] first. The safety cut him. [It] gave 'MVS' [Marquez Valdes-Scantling] a free lane. I put it up [and] let him make a play. In those situations, you put it up, and you don't want to overthrow it, so you just put it up there, one on one, let a guy make a play, and he did that. He made a great catch and sealed the deal."

On TE Travis Kelce this week:

"He is one of those guys; he loves the challenge. I mean, all week, rightfully so, we heard about how great their defense was, and they were; they shut us out in the second half. But for Travis, that's like, 'All right. What can I do against this great defense?' He has that mindset, and he led us like that. Every single practice [and] every single walk-through, he was focused in, he was locked in [and] bringing energy. It makes my job a lot easier when you have a guy that's in that room – that tight end room, that receiving room – [that] he can lead those young guys, show them how we do it and lead us to an AFC championship." 

On his defense tonight versus QB Lamar Jackson:

"It's special, because that's a great team and a great quarterback. 'Spags' [defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo] ... It seems like when the games get bigger, when the challenges get higher, he performs even better. The guys executed the gameplan well. They got timely turnovers [like] that play down at the goal line, punching the ball out – I think it was [L'Jarius] Sneed – and recovering it. That was a timely turnover, obviously, and whenever they're rolling like that, I have to kind of manage my game. That's stuff that I've learned throughout the season – is even if we're not having the success that I want to have, [if] the defense is rolling [and] getting stops, let's just take the safe choice, get the ball out of my hand, don't turn the ball over, and let's go win a football game." 

On what it was like playing on the road in the playoffs this season:

"It was cool. Just going into two hostile environments, having to come together as a team to win those games and hold that trophy, it really was special, but if I had my choice, I'd rather do it at Arrowhead. After we go to the Super Bowl and hopefully win it, we're going to try to get it back at Arrowhead next year." 

On a specific play to TE Travis Kelce when he scrambled around, made time and finally floated in:

"I mean, of course Travis [Kelce] ran the wrong route, and he ended up getting the football. But the offensive line did a great job protecting. I was trying to find a way to run, but they were doing a good job of containing me within the D-line. And then Travis just worked his way to get open, and when he's one on one, I give him a chance. I threw the ball, and he made a heck of a catch. He's a special player, man. I always say it, but when the lights get brighter, he plays better. That's the true mark of a champion, and that's what he is." 

RB Isiah Pacheco

On if he could sense the Ravens getting frustrated:

"I wasn't worried about that. I was worried about us."  

On what impressed him with how QB Patrick Mahomes played today:

"Nothing impressed me. That's what he does. [He has a] determined mindset [and] came out here with a goal. Since yesterday, we've been preparing the five P's. Preparation prevents [a] poor performance." 

S Justin Reid

On playing for Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo:

"Just to show you how much we believe in Coach 'Spag' [defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo]. Coach 'Spag' is the greatest defensive coordinator. I've played for five defensive coordinators. I love Coach 'Spag'. His defense is so fun to play in, and it's so dynamic, and it creates a whole bunch of special players." 

On the job Spagnuolo did today:

"Incredible. We threw the book at them. It took everything in us. We threw the book at Lamar [Jackson] - zone pressures, man pressures, fake pressures, fake pressures that look like pressures that ended up being zone drops – so we tried to do as much as we could to confuse him and not give him the same look twice the whole game." 

On so many people counting them out throughout the season:

"I love it. We keep the receipts. Don't worry, we keep the receipts, so just know that."

On him tipping QB Lamar Jackson's pass that he also caught:

"Like I said, if it was any of the other 31 quarterbacks, I might have got that interception, but Lamar [Jackson] is such a special athlete. He was able to go make a play, but he was able to go make a play on the ball."

On how their defense seemed to frustrate QB Lamar Jackson:

"We sent pressure from everywhere. I blitzed, the corners blitzed, nickel blitzed, and the linebackers blitzed. Blitzes were coming from all different directions, so we pair them together with zone coverages that make it look like a blitz, and it's not a blitz. So, we just try to confuse him and make him hold onto the ball a little bit longer. We have the coverage players to line up with anybody, so when we do blitz, we give enough time for the pressure to get ahold of him."

CB L'Jarius Sneed

On what he saw on the play where he knocked the ball out at the goal line:

"When I saw him, he had his step on me. All [that was] on my mind was, 'Catch up and make the tackle,' and that's what I did. When I saw him stretch the ball, I just punched out the ball, and it came out."

On what Ravens' WR Zay Flowers said to him a few plays earlier to get the penalty:

"I didn't know that he did that, because if I did, then I would have said something to him. But yes, the guys told me he stepped over me, and I didn't see that. I just walked off."

On if he was extra fired up on the WR Zay Flowers penalty play:

"Yes, I was kind of mad at myself, because I didn't see him get behind me when I went to safety. I was like next play mentality."

LB Drue Tranquill

On the difference in today's game for the defense:

"Man, we just got belief. Man, we got belief in each other. Everybody kind of wrote us off and doubted us in this game. They thought they [Ravens] were the more physical team. We just came out early and for 60 minutes, man, just delivered blow after blow. I thought we played a really physical game, and that is what it came down to."

On why the gameplan for defense was so effective:

"Well, it starts with [defensive coordinator] Coach [Steve] Spagnuolo and how great of a coach he is. He is not only a great person, but a great strategist, and he knew from his tape study, he knew from his experience how we needed to bottle up '8' [Lamar Jackson]. Shoutout to them man, Lamar [Jackson], all those guys are great players. We had a good plan, and we executed it."

On what makes their third-down defense so good:

"Well, we do so many different things and [have] guys that do it very well. And when you have those two elements and you have a great play caller, you have a really good chance on third down. This is a team [the Ravens] that protects the ball really, really well, but not today. We came up with some huge plays, none bigger than [L'Jarius Sneed] down there on the goal line. We talked about protecting every inch. Man, that's what it is about. He punches it out right there, we fall on it and get on it. You know, we forced a lot of fumbles this year, and we haven't necessarily recovered them. We recovered the two we needed to today."

On the gameplan against QB Lamar Jackson:

"He's a great player. The whole game plan and the whole focus is on him and stopping him first. He had a couple big plays, and he is going to have a couple of plays. He's a great player and an MVP-caliber player. I thought blow after blow, 15 rounds, heavyweight fight – I thought we got the best of them tonight."

On defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's game plan:

"We had a really good rush plan. Our defensive line coach's [Joe Cullen] plan to hold [Lamar Jackson] in the pocket like we did... I think they had 80 rushing yards, and a lot of those rushing yards came in two plays. I thought we just did a really good job by having a good cage rush on him and keeping him in the pocket."

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