Ravens’ mistakes: Baltimore’s self-inflicted penalties, turnovers costly in AFC championship loss to Chiefs

Ravens’ mistakes: Baltimore’s self-inflicted penalties, turnovers costly in AFC championship loss to Chiefs

There was a time when it seemed impossible for anyone to beat the Ravens.

It turns out that the Ravens were the only team that could still pull it off.

It was not the dominant Kansas City of the postseason.

Ravens' mistakes: Baltimore's self-inflicted penalties, turnovers costly in AFC championship loss to Chiefs
Ravens’ mistakes: Baltimore’s self-inflicted penalties, turnovers costly in AFC championship loss to Chiefs

The Chiefs scored just 17 points, which is the second fewest points they have scored under Patrick Mahomes,

only less than the nine points they scored against the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers in a Super Bowl loss.

On Sunday, they  scored zero goals in the second half against Baltimore.

That seems like a recipe for the Ravens to succeed. But Baltimore committed a lot of expensive mistakes and self-inflicted penalties during the contest.

Ultimately, they played a significant role in the Ravens’ 17-10 loss, which marked the disappointing end of their 13-4 season,

while the Chiefs will go to their fourth Super Bowl under quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Although the Ravens were lucky to avoid injury from a few of their errors (Jackson fumbled early and Jadeveon

Clowney was penalised for roughing the passer after he lowered his helmet into Mahomes), there were still a number of

errors that will stick in the memory of the team when they consider a season that ended without a championship.

Two early drive-extending penalties

Penalties were a problem for the Ravens throughout the night. They had five 15-yard penalties and finished

with eight penalties for 95 penalty yards overall.

Two of the most costly penalties came on the same drive. The Ravens and Chiefs had exchanged punts on three straight

drives, as both offenses appeared to stall, and after a one-yard run by Isiah Pacheco to start the Chiefs’ drive inside the two-

minute warning of the first half, it appeared Baltimore would keep the trend going.

Then there was a scrum between the defence and Travis Kelce.

There was a good deal of back-and-forth before Kyle Van Noy rammed his helmet into Kelce’s, resulting in an unwarranted

roughness call that gave the Chiefs a free kick return of 15 yards and a first down all the way to the Kansas City 27.

Then, with a 3rd and 5 ready to come up, Mahomes fired an incomplete pass to Rashee Rice.

But as Mahomes was throwing, defensive tackle Travis Jones struck his helmet, drawing a roughing the passer penalty.

After starting at its own 11, Kansas City was able to move into field goal range before the half was out thanks to those thirty

combined yards of penalty yards. The Chiefs’ only point of the game turned out to be a field goal.

Zay Flowers’ costly drive

The Ravens’ final drive of the third quarter was the “Zay Flowers drive.” He did everything right. He did everything wrong.

Flowers began the drive with a 54-yard catch to take the Ravens from the Baltimore 36 to the Kansas City 10.

The only problem was that afterward, he pushed down the defender and spun the ball in his face as he stood over them and

drew an obvious taunting penalty, which moved the gain back 15 yards to the Chiefs’ 25.

Jackson looked to the rookie wide receiver once more after Rashod Bateman picked up a two-yard gain and

he subsequently snagged a 14-yard ball. Flowers ran for the end zone after catching a short throw, but L’Jarius Sneed batted

the ball away, which Kansas City recovered in the end zone.

To make matters worse, after Flowers’ error, he punched the bench, injuring his hand.

Lamar Jackson’s triple-coverage interception

It’s hard to win with one red-zone turnover. Another, trailing by two scores in the fourth quarter, is even worse.

Jackson’s interception might have been the worst of three turnovers.

Tight end Isiah Likely was streaking over the middle of the field and waving his hand signaling he was open for a throw.

The problem was that he was not remotely open. There were three defenders on him.

Of the three, it was safety Deon Bush who jumped in front of the pass to pick it off in the end zone.

“I see both of [the safeties] trailing him and I didn’t want to throw it all out the end zone,

I just tried to let him turn around and make a play,” Jackson said following the game.

“I had anticipated PI, but things work out as they do. The safety intercepted the ball and made a fantastic play.”

With 6:45 remaining, it put Kansas City on the 20-yard line.

Despite going three-and-out, the drive had the potential to score points for Baltimore.

Late in the game, however, it was just another pointless journey.

Final defensive drive

The Ravens kicked a field goal with 2:34 left to make it a seven-point game.

They still had two timeouts. Rather than attempt an onside kick, which has had a limited success rate,

Baltimore put the trust back in its defense.

There was merit to the decision. Kansas City had only racked up three first downs in the second half and had not scored.

Baltimore appeared well positioned to potentially halt the Chiefs, force a quick three-and-out, and get the

ball back after the two-minute warning.

But the errors kept piling up on the final drive. On first down, the Ravens inexplicably had 12 men on the

field to bring up a 1st-and-5. Then Roquan Smith jumped offside, a move that was likely intentional to keep the Chiefs from

having an easier first-down attempt from short yardage, but he plowed into the offensive lineman hard enough to draw an

unnecessary roughness penalty and give the Chiefs 15 yards rather than the five.

The Ravens had a chance to get off the field after the Smith error, however, as the Chiefs faced a 3rd-and-9 with the fate of

the game on the line. Somehow, Marquez Valdes-Scantling leaked behind the secondary and was wide open for a game-

sealing 32-yard catch that ended the game for Kansas City, as the Chiefs were able to kneel out the remainder of the contest.

Make no mistake, the Chiefs played well and earned their way to Super Bowl 58, but the Ravens didn’t do themselves any

favors by helping Kansas City so much.

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