KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Baltimore Ravens aren’t ready to be mentioned among the NFL’s elite just yet.
Lamar Jackson struggled for three quarters, the defense couldn’t slow down Patrick Mahomes, and costly penalties proved too much to overcome in a 33-28 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. The Ravens (2-1) generated plenty of national buzz in routing the woeful Miami Dolphins and beating Kyler Murray in his first road start of the season. But when matched up against one of the best teams in the AFC in the Chiefs (3-0), the Ravens made too many mistakes to pull off an upset.
The Ravens will find where they measure up in the AFC North next Sunday when they host the Cleveland Browns.
QB breakdown: Jackson is 0-2 against the Chiefs, and he’s 8-0 against the rest of the NFL in the regular season. For most of the game Sunday, Jackson was a big reason Baltimore struggled. Through three quarters, Jackson was 11-of-24 for 119 yards, which put Baltimore in a hole that it couldn’t escape. He connected on some desperation passes in the fourth quarter, but he wasn’t sharp in throwing the ball deep. His 21 incompletions were more than his first two games combined (16). Jackson, who finished 22-of-43 for 267 yards, did get the Ravens to within one score late in the fourth quarter with a dazzling 9-yard touchdown run.
Pivotal play: Mecole Hardman‘s 83-yard touchdown in second quarter. Ravens safety Earl Thomas said earlier in the week that he would eliminate all the big plays. But Baltimore had too many lapses in coverage, and none was more memorable than the breakdown that allowed Hardman to run free downfield. This was a problem all day for the NFL’s No. 2 defense, which allowed Mahomes to complete 27 of 37 passes for 374 yards and three touchdowns. The Ravens talked about correcting the miscommunication problems from last Sunday against Arizona. Baltimore needs to try harder next Sunday against Baker Mayfield and the Browns.
Troubling trend: Costly/questionable penalties. Depending on your perspective, the Ravens were hurt by flags. A horse-collar penalty on linebacker Matthew Judon in the first quarter negated a fourth down in the red zone. Willie Snead‘s holding penalty nullified a 45-yard run by Gus Edwards in the second quarter. There was a lot of gray area on those calls, but Baltimore can’t afford to put itself in those positions going against a top team on the road.
Troubling trend (part II): Failed two-point conversions. The Ravens made it clear that they were going to be aggressive throughout the whole game. It makes sense when you’re playing the reigning NFL Most Valuable Player and an explosive offense. But the Ravens left points on the field in failing to convert three two-point conversions. The questionable one was going for two points early in the fourth quarter when trailing 30-19.