Y’know, it feels really good to wake up 3-0. And it feels even better when that win comes over the Baltimore Ravens.
This game was highly considered to be one of the most anticipated games of the regular season, and the defending Super Bowl Champs came to play. Most analysts were taking the Ravens to win, some even expecting a blowout. But we all know what happened when the lights came on.
Granted, there were some miscues. But, Patrick Mahomes absolutely shredded the Ravens defense last night, and Lamar Jackson (yes, the current unanimous MVP) was held to under 100 yards passing on the night, showing massive improvement from the defense.
The Chiefs have now secured the inside track to the #1 seed and a first-round bye, allowing them to breathe much easier for the rest of the season. The Ravens struggled mightily in that game, which bodes well for Kansas City later down the line. That being said, let’s jump into what they did right, what they did wrong, and what made me want to bash my head in.
Just as I predicted in my match-up article, Travis Kelce and Clyde Edwards-Helaire had outstanding games through the air, racking up 87 yards on six catches and 70 yards on 5 catches, respectively. On top of their performances, the entire Kansas City passing attack was on point for this game. Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, and Sammy Watkins all had 60+ yards on 5+ catches. Hell, even Eric Fisher got in on the action.
But the Chief’s passing game wasn’t the only successful part of the game. The Kansas City defense came to PLAY. They held Lamar Jackson to 15/28 for 97 yards and a TD. J.K. Dobbins was the Ravens’ leading receiver with four catches for 38 yards. Lamar Jackson rushed for 83 yards, but the rest of the Ravens’ ground game was largely unimpressive.
Chris Jones did exactly what I thought he’d do, and absolutely manhandled the Ravens O-line. He finished the day with 2.0 sacks and a FF to along with five total tackles. He absolutely wrecked the Ravens game plan and stifled the run game. Frank Clark also got in on the action with a sack. Kansas City’s ability to collapse the pocket on Jackson was incredibly helpful getting the win, and will be a huge factor if these two meet in the postseason.
The Chiefs’ secondary also deserves praise for their performance, as they were dominant all game. L’Jarius Sneed continued to make plays, giving the Chiefs a decision to make after next week when Bashaud Breeland returns from his suspension. Tyrann Mathieu was all over the field, and Juan Thornhill looked solid back deep. Ultimately, the Chiefs did a lot of things and got the win, but there are still parts that need to be addressed.
For the second game, Kansas City couldn’t get the run game going. Edwards-Helaire rushed 20 times for just 64 yards, easily his worst performance of the year. He may be shifty in space, but the KC O-line has had struggles with run blocking in all three games this year, and that didn’t change against a stout front seven.
Patrick Mahomes scrambled four times for a handful of yards, and Tyreek Hill was able to get the ball twice for 25 yards. While they can contribute, Kansas City can’t rely on scrambles and gadget plays to fuel the run game. Part of the issue against the Ravens was the absence of starting RG Andrew Wylie, but this is a larger issue that needs to be addressed as the team moves closer to January football.
Tackling, although not as prominent, was still an issue as well. While the defense did a good job keeping the ball out of the hands of the Ravens’ playmakers, they struggled to bring them down once they did. Gus Edwards only carried the ball four times, but he was able to rip through the middle of the defense each time. There’s been improvement, but Steve Spagnuolo’s crew needs to learn to wrap up before they get blown over.
Jackson was also able to get yards on the ground, showing another deficiency in the defense. The team was also helped by the five dropped passes of Ravens receivers, which would have changed the game entirely. Kansas City’s defense is almost there, they just need to lock it in.
The Kansas City special teams unit played like shit. There’s just no other way to say it.
Before the start of the game, there was a heated debate about who was the better kicker: Justin Tucker, the NFL’s most accurate kicker, or Harrison Butker. This game made it very clear who’s the better player, and it’s not Bukter.
Butker missed his first PAT wide left, and then proceeded to miss the same way on a 42-yard field goal before halftime. This isn’t the first time this year Butker has missed a PAT, and he’s had a few look quite shaky this year already. Special teams can win or lose football games, and no matter how good the Chiefs offense is, it’s never ok to leave points on the field.
The Chiefs also gave up a kick return touchdown to Ravens rookie WR Devin Duvernay, putting the score at 14-10. Special teams coordinator Dave Toub needs to get his crew back on track. He may also want to have a separate conversation with Butker, who’s having an uncharacteristic start to the season.
Fortunately, there isn’t much to say in this section. The Chiefs played well, and will look to keep stacking wins against the Patriots next week.