Baltimore Ravens fans probably didn’t get a good night’s sleep Monday night.
In arguably the most anticipated game of the season, the Ravens were once again humbled by the Kansas City Chiefs, 34-20.
Mahomes threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns. He carved up the vaunted Raven’s secondary all night, and seemed comfortable countering whatever Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale schemed up. He was particularly brilliant against the blitz, completing just under 82% of his passes and two touchdowns.
Jackson, on the other hand, responded with a career low 95 passing yards and only one passing touchdown. He looked uncomfortable all night, and his offensive line struggled to give him time in the pocket to go through his progressions. He seemed to lose faith in his offensive line protecting him towards the end of the game.
In the fourth quarter, Mahomes led his offense on a deflating 75-yard, seven and a half minute touchdown drive to put the Chiefs up 34-20.
Pressure causes mistakes
After, in the Ravens’ last meaningful drive of the game, Jackson had quickly moved the offense into the red zone. The Chiefs responded by sacking Jackson on second and third down. This put the offense into fourth and 24, where Jackson threw a desperate heave to Miles Boykin in the endzone which fell incomplete, turning the ball over on downs and effectively ending the game.
On the two plays where Jackson was sacked, you could see how the Chiefs brought pressure on the outside. Instead of stepping up into the pocket and looking downfield, Jackson immediately put his head down and took the sacks. This was something we didn’t see too much of from him last season.
Although Jackson (83) gained more yards on the ground than Mahomes (26), he actually made less of an impact than the Chiefs star. Mahomes gained a couple of demoralizing first downs on some scramble plays, and even scored a rushing touchdown.
Additional observations from the game
- Jackson struggled to make accurate throws all night. One pass in particular that stood out came in the third quarter. Marquise Brown had easily beat his defender on a “go” route, with no safety defender close enough to the play. All Jackson had to do was put some air underneath his throw and drop it into Brown’s hands, which would have been an automatic touchdown. Instead, Jackson throws a bullet, heavily underthrown and almost intercepted. The drive would stall and end in a punt.
- Mark Ingram has been largely invisible so far this season, save for his 30-yard touchdown run in week two. This is a situation worth monitoring in the next few weeks, especially as Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins continue to make more big plays.
- Speaking of the Ravens secondary, they never seemed to be on the same page all night. Marcus Peters struggled to keep up with Tyreek Hill, and Deshon Elliot got caught daydreaming, which allowed Mecole Hardman to get behind him for a back-breaking 49-yard touchdown right before the half on third down.
- If there is one thing for Ravens fans to hang their hat on after this game, is that Justin Tucker is indeed the best kicker in the league. There has been growing momentum this week that Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker was challenging Tucker for the throne. This was after Butker made two 58 yard field goals against the Los Angeles Chargers in week two. On Monday, he missed his first PAT attempt and then a field goal attempt right before halftime.
- Jackson seems to acknowledge that the Chiefs have the Ravens number at the moment. In his post-game press conference Monday night, when asked how the Ravens could overcome the Chiefs in the future, Jackson called them “Our Kryptonite”.
Looking ahead to next week
The Ravens have a short week to prepare for the Washington Football Team. Washington lost by an identical score to the Ravens in week three; 34-20 to the Cleveland Browns.
Here are some keys to the game to watch for:
Run, run, run
The Ravens should look to get their running game back on track against Washington’s defense. Washington has given up 125 yards per game on the ground, which is 22nd in the league.
Jackson and the stable of running backs should get opportunities to rack up the rushing yards. In week two against the Arizona Cardinals, Washington gave up 67 yards and two rushing touchdowns to Kyler Murray. In week three against the Browns, Washington gave up a combined 156 rushing yards to the deadly duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
The Ravens are averaging 166.3 yards per game on the ground so far this season. This is good for fifth in the league, but 40 yards per game less than they averaged in 2019.
Stop “Scary Terry”
Washington is a young offensive team still trying to build an identity. However, one weapon the Ravens defense should keep an eye out on is Terry McLaurin. The second-year receiver is averaging just over five catches for just under 90 yards per game. The Ravens secondary did a poor job preventing the big plays against the Chiefs, and McLaurin is the one player on the team that can punish you deep.
Dominate third downs
The Ravens defense was miserable on third downs against Mahomes in week three. Luckily for them, they go up against a Washington team that currently ranks 30th in third-down conversion rate.
The Ravens defensive line must dominate the line of scrimmage and put Dwayne Haskins in difficult third-and-long scenarios. If they can do this, it is difficult to see how the Ravens lose next Sunday.
Final score prediction
Look for this Ravens team to take out some of their frustration from last week’s loss out on a young Washington team. Here are some bold predictions for the week four match up: