By Nathan Acuna
The last three encounters between the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs have had the same story: a Chiefs victory. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has consistently struggled against their inner-conference opponent, averaging a QB rating of just 81.4 in those games. Meanwhile Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw for 9 touchdowns and had an average QB rating of 119.
Entering Sunday night’s game, many Ravens fans expected Jackson’s kryptonite, the Chiefs, to reign supreme and continue their winning streak. Kansas City has maintained their dominance in the AFC, hosting the AFC Championship game at home for three straight seasons, a feat only the 2002-2004 Eagles have accomplished before. Add two straight Super Bowl appearances to the mix, and that’s a recipe for disaster in Charm City, or so everyone thought.
Baltimore was coming off of a heart breaking overtime loss at The Black Hole, or Allegiant Stadium, against the Raiders. The Raiders have been typically mediocre in previous years, so this win was a big one, however it wasn’t the biggest of surprises due to the losses of Ravens running backs J.K Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill in the offseason. The Ravens had 15 players on injured reserve, so to say this team is beat up is an understatement.
The 0-1 Ravens started off as expected vs. the 1-0 Chiefs, where Jackson threw an early pick-six to Chiefs cornerback, Tyrann Matheiu, on the Ravens’ opening offensive possession.
“I thought we had already lost,” said Mt. Hebron senior Tyler Kang, who attended the game.
Mt. Hebron varsity football coach, Joe Armstead, wasn’t happy either. “I thought ‘oh man, this is not good,’ but as a coach, my very next thought was, we’ve got this, let’s get it back.”
The two former MVP quarterbacks, Mahomes and Jackson, started to heat up early. Jackson drove the Ravens down the field after his horrific start, then a lucky fumble recovery touchdown by Devin Duvernay and a Mahomes 33-yard touchdown pass to Demarcus Robinson made for a wild sequence of events.
Both offenses remained potent throughout the first half, the Chiefs controlling the passing game and the Ravens controlling the run game. With the additions of veteran RBs Devonta Freeman and Latavius Murray, the Ravens rushing attack didn’t look half bad, which is the opposite of what people anticipated. When asked about the new backfield, Kang stated “it was better than expected, especially against the Chiefs.”
In the third quarter, Mahomes threw two touchdown passes, one to Byron Pringle, and another to Travis Kelce. Jackson proceeded to make an astonishing jump-pass to Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, who took it 42 yards to the house. “I was out of my seat getting chicken fingers, all I could hear was the crowd erupting. I look up, and see Hollywood in the end zone,” Mt. Hebron senior, and varsity football player, Everett Armstead said.
Jackson put the team on his back in the fourth quarter, scoring two rushing touchdowns. Two failed 2-pt conversions to leverage the scoring had the game at a 36-35 Baltimore lead, one 2-pt attempt including a controversial ineligible man downfield penalty. The Ravens’ defense had to come up big if they wanted to stop the Chiefs offense, a heavy task against Mahomes.
A young rookie rose to the occasion, Baltimore defensive end Odafe Oweh. In his second week in the National Football League, he made a game-changing play, stripping the football off of Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and recovering the fumble.
“He is a classic Ravens DE/LB. Tough, physical, student of the game who did and will continue to make big plays for the defense. Like Lamar [Jackson], and most of the Ravens, he is humble and respects the game. I think he is going to have great success, especially under the Ravens’ defensive philosophy,” Coach Armstead said.
The fumble recovery gave the Ravens possession of the football, and facing a 4th & 1, a big decision arose for Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh. With trust in his quarterback, he decided to keep the offense on the field to try to ice the game. Thankfully enough for Ravens fans, Jackson kept the ball and rushed for 2 yards, sealing the victory for Baltimore.
When asked about the decision to go for it this late in the game, Coach Armstead said that he absolutely would have gone for it if he had to make the choice. It seemed like a no-brainer, even on the Ravens’ own 43-yard line. Plenty of games have taught not to give Mahomes, and the Chiefs offense, a chance to drive down the field and kick a game-winning field goal.
For Kansas City, this game is a minor setback. “The Chiefs are very good, well-coached with a ton of talent. They will continue to do well,” Coach Armstead said.
For Baltimore, this is an elated victory considering they beat a top 2 team in the NFL after a gut-wrenching defeat a week prior. The Ravens will certainly celebrate this win, but their eyes are on Detroit next Sunday at 1 P.M.