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AFC Championship Recap: Ravens Miscues Doom Super Bowl Hopes

The Baltimore Ravens suffered a brutal loss this past Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. All year they have been playing bully ball and they finally met their match. Several boneheaded mistakes and penalties halted any chance of them making a comeback in what would be an ugly 17 to 10 game. MVP front-runner Lamar Jackson struggled throughout the whole game, making Pat Mahomes' job a lot easier. This was an absolute meltdown, from top to bottom, where several things went wrong for Baltimore. Let’s take a look into the factors that played into this devastating loss.

 

Play Calling

The Baltimore Ravens prided themselves on running the ball all year, averaging a league-best 156.5 rush yards a game. The Chiefs came into this game allowing 113.2 rush yards a game. You would think offensive coordinator Todd Monken would revolve his game plan around running the football, especially when you have the most dynamic quarterback to play the game. However, that was not the case. Instead, Baltimore dropped back for a pass on 82% of their plays, while only giving 6 rush attempts total between all of their running backs. This was never going to be a recipe for success, as they have one of the best corner duos in the league in Trent McDuffie and L’Jarius Sneed. The Chiefs only allowed an average of 185 pass yards to opponents all year, while only allowing 5.7 yards per pass attempt.

 

Penalties

Are we surprised the referees are in Pat Mahomes' favor? The Chiefs were flagged for just three penalties, resulting in a loss of 30 yards. The Ravens, however, tallied five 15-yard penalties alone and combined for a total of 95 yards in penalties. This would in effect be the death of the Ravens, they never could gain traction on the offensive side of the ball due to these penalties. Any time they were in range of scoring, a flag would hit the turf. Zay Flowers was called for taunting after spinning a ball next to L’Jarius Sneed inside the Chiefs' 20, which prevented the Ravens from scoring that drive. Kyle Van Noy would then receive a taunting penalty after getting in between a scuffle that was started by Travis Kelce.

 

Turnovers

Everyone and their mother knows that every single possession counts when playing against Kansas City. It doesn’t matter who's on the defensive side of the ball, Pat Mahomes will find a way to score. That leaves it up to the offense to go blow for blow until someone stops swinging. The Ravens failed to meet that challenge. They turned the ball over 3 times, which was enough for the Chiefs to take the win. Second-year edge rusher George Karlaftis ripped the ball from Lamar Jackson's hands, causing a strip sack and a fumble recovery. From then on you’d think ball security would be something the Ravens kept in mind. Instead, they turned the ball over 2 more times. A pick thrown by Lamar Jackson into triple coverage, and a heartbreaking fumble on the goal line by Zay Flowers.

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