BALTIMORE – The Baltimore Ravens spoke this week about testing their championship against the Kansas City Chiefs. Instead, the Ravens have been reminded that the defending Super Bowl champions will remain their kryptonite.
In a hype-up match between the NFL's two best teams, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens painfully discovered how far they are from knocking the Patrick Mahomes and Chiefs off the pitch in a humble 34:20 loss on Monday night.
The Ravens (2-1) scratched their heads, from Mahomes' underhand touchdown pass to a touchdown pass, to explain to Eric Fisher why they look superhuman against the rest of the NFL in the regular season and look so ordinary against the Chiefs.
Jackson didn't resemble the reigning NFL MVP in a choppy performance, falling 0-3 against the Chiefs with a career-worst 97-yard pass. It was unlike Jackson, who beat the rest of the league with a 22-1 record dominated the regular season.
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The Ravens defense had not allowed more than 21 points in 13 consecutive games. On Monday night, Baltimore surrendered 27 points to Kansas City in one half.
Baltimore had never failed in the second half in 13 consecutive games, the best stretch since the Green Bay Packers of 1930. On Monday night, the Ravens followed the entire second half.
While Mahomes and the Chiefs played loosely in their backyard football style, the Ravens looked confused on either side of the ball with Jackson's faulty passes, falls from receivers, and unusual defenses. There are many teams that stumble against the Chiefs, but the Ravens need to figure out why their worst performances are recurring against Kansas City.
At the start of the season, the biggest question regarding Jackson and the Ravens was whether they could win in the postseason after abrupt outings in the last two seasons. Now, Baltimore knows that its biggest hurdle to any championship pursuit is overcoming doubts as to whether it can beat Mahomes and Kansas City, who have the inner track for top seed and home advantage in the playoffs.
QB breakdown: Jackson had one of his worst passing games of his career. After showing so many improvements as Pocket Passer in the first two games, Jackson struggled with accuracy and finished 15:28 (a season worst of 53.5%). It won't be a big rivalry with Mahomes until he beats him and plays well at it.
Worrying trend: Jackson has yet to make a major comeback. He's now 0-5 if he's 10 points behind at any point in the game. He's 0-5 even if he's behind at halftime. Part of this is due to a lack of opportunities. Jackson and the Ravens had led eleven consecutive games at halftime, making one shy of tying an NFL record. But when he has a big deficit, he has fought.
Sensational NextGen Stat: The only highlight was rookie Devin Duvernay's 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter. Duvernay's top speed of 21.48 mph was the second fastest of any ball carrier at a kick-off in the past two seasons. He covered a distance of 110.4 meters on the game and reached his top speed on the Chiefs' 45-yard line.