The Kansas City Chiefs have come to the boil at the PERFECT time… Travis Kelce, Patrick Mahomes and Co were unplayable in their 17-10 win over the Baltimore Ravens – and it will take a lot to stop their relentless march to glory
Last week in Buffalo, as the Kansas City Chiefs thawed out in the visitors’ locker room, thoughts turned to Maryland.
The conversation among Andy Reid’s Bills players is said to have turned to Baltimore and especially the weather: Patrick Mahomes and Co. wanted to know if they were in for another Sunday freeze.
As it turned out, they were greeted by rain and dark skies, but M&T Bank Stadium was on fire – a storm of noise and emotion. At some point during this pulsating AFC Championship Game, a call went out over the loudspeaker system: a fire had been reported and an evacuation ordered.
That didn’t stop this game and, unfortunately for the Ravens, nothing could stop the advance of these Chiefs. This is a special team and the defending Super Bowl champions have now survived both the cold and the cauldron.
They came to boiling point at the perfect time and they didn’t have to worry about the cold on the next leg of this journey. They are headed to the desert in Las Vegas and a fourth Super Bowl in five years.
The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Baltimore Ravens 17-10 to win the AFC Championship
Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes finished the game 30-39, 241 yards, and a touchdown.
Tight end Travis Kelce also had a big game, catching 11 passes for 116 yards and a TD
For the Ravens, their wait for a shot at football’s biggest prize will enter a 12th year. By the end, many of the fans and much of the life had drained from this place.
Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson predicted a ‘heavyweight’ battle with Patrick Mahomes: the MVP-in-waiting and the best quarterback of the last half decade going ‘toe-to-toe’. It was a fascinating battle and the slippery Jackson produced flashes of magic. The only problem? Unlike boxing, soccer has no rules about strangling your opponent. And on Sunday, the Ravens were starved for long stretches: They had nearly 15 fewer minutes of possession than Kansas City. And when they did, the Chiefs defense didn’t relent.
With the ball, Mahomes was masterful – especially early. He controlled this game while Jackson on the sidelines became increasingly furious. The Ravens defense finally battened down the hatches, but by then the Chiefs’ lead was 10 and that was enough. Travis Kelce was outstanding – he made NFL history with 11 receptions and the first touchdown.
Forget the circus that now follows the tight end around the country, Kelce remains a main attraction in his own right. Time and again, he was free to dig Mahomes out of a hole. Jackson, meanwhile, has now lost four of his five meetings with the Chiefs quarterback. His wait for a first Super Bowl continues. Being named MVP will be scant consolation after a season that promised so much.
Kelce was surprisingly able to catch all 11 passes thrown his way
Quarterback Isiah Pacheco also found his way into the end zone for a Kansas City touchdown
The Chiefs defense made a timely interception in the end zone to preserve a late lead
Ravens coach John Harbaugh was asked earlier this week if he had a message for the 71,000 fans who secured their seats at the Ravens’ first AFC Championship game here since 1971.
As of Thursday, the cheapest seat cost $764; one fan splashed $73,000 on a pair. Michael Phelps was among the crowd. So was Taylor Swift and the Kelce clan. And yet the coach’s rallying cry, Harbaugh insisted, was not too different from what he would tell his players: get some rest and eat a good meal before the game. Well, no one could accuse Ravens supporter of forgetting to refuel.
On Sunday morning, flags flying from the windows of cars in downtown Baltimore began to fray in the wind and rain. But still fans flocked to the courts and in the lots surrounding M&T Bank Stadium. They hid under marquees and under the overpass. They lit Cuban cigars before noon.
The atmosphere began to bubble long before Navy Seals fell from the sky and Jackson emerged through the smoke to chants of ‘MV-P’. All because Baltimore believed that this was the day it would prove those who had written off this quarterback and this city wrong.
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson led the game with 20-37, 272, 1 TD and 1 Int.
Jackson ended up on the receiving end of his own pass after it tipped in the air
Ravens wide receiver Zay Flowers committed a critical fumble while trying to dive for a TD
Earlier in the same drive, Flowers was also called for a controversial penalty
Flower caught the Ravens’ only touchdown pass of the game during the first quarter
The Ravens have already exorcised some demons from 2019, when Jackson was named MVP and Baltimore secured the No. 1 seed, only to fall in the divisional round. They have already dominated both the 49ers and Lions.
But this was a different challenge: against a team blessed with the suffocating swing of inevitability and a coach the Harbaughs have known for four decades. Winning these games has become routine in Kansas City.
Mahomes, Kelce and Co. aren’t terribly upset. But Justin Tucker managed to beat features in the warm-up: the kicker’s attempt to practice near the visitors prompted Kelce to throw his helmet and Mahomes to kick away his stand.
Those two then teamed up again, on an ominous first drive that saw Mahomes pull his team up the field and end up with Kelce in the end zone. This place was stunned into silence and, with nearly half the first quarter gone, Jackson was only allowed three snaps. Turns out he didn’t need much more to light the blue touch paper again.
After the Chiefs forced another immediate fourth down in Baltimore territory, the quarterback took matters into his own hands. He saw a hole and rushed for 21 yards. Two plays later, Jackson freed himself from the clutches of Leo Chanal and then dropped a 30-yard touchdown pass the way of Zay Flowers.
The problem for Baltimore was giving Jackson enough time to weave his magic. With 10 minutes left in the first half, the Ravens managed just nine offensive plays in less than four and a half minutes. The Chiefs, on the other hand, enjoyed 26 snaps in nearly 15 minutes.
By then, the visitors were back in front thanks to Isiah Pacheco’s score – after Kelce kept the drive alive with a crucial diving catch. So much for this Ravens defense swarming Mahomes.
Instead, it was Jackson who was gobbled up for the game’s first turnover: Charles Omenihu got to the quarterback and forced a fumble deep in Baltimore territory. However, Jackson flirted with catastrophe not once but twice, but escaped unscathed.
First, his whiff went unpunished after Pacheco was stopped short on fourth down. And then, on the Ravens’ next drive, Jackson’s pass was deflected in the air and caught by … Jackson. That was one way to make a first impression.
Ravens legend Terelle Suggs was in attendance and tried to pump up the crowd mid-game
Fellow Ravens legend Ray Lewis was also on hand during the game to get the crowd pumping
T-Pain performed for the fans during halftime of the Ravens vs Chiefs game as an extra treat
It was just kind of unfortunate that the quarterback failed to find his wideouts too often in the first half: at the half, he was Baltimore’s second-leading receiver with 13 yards and Baltimore was lucky to be down just 10 points. It took until the final minute of the third quarter for the home team to threaten to eat into that lead.
After a period of exhaustion and deadlock, Jackson found Flowers with a 54-yard bomb. Incredibly, however, the drive came to nothing. First, Flowers was penalized for taunting. It cost Baltimore 15 yards. Moments later, with Flowers set to score, L’Jarius Sneed forced a fumble at the one-yard line. It was an outstanding play.
The next time Baltimore had the ball in the end zone, Deon Bush was there to pick it off. With less than three minutes to go, Tucker’s 43-yard field goal brought the Ravens within a score. But penalties still cost Harbaugh’s team.
Since 2013, the Ravens are the only NFL team not to overturn a 10-plus point halftime deficit. In fact, that run rarely looked like it would end here. Unlike the Chiefs’ relentless march to glory.