Ravens fall short against Chiefs, end season one game shy of the Super Bowl
By Cordell WoodlandSpecial to the AFRO The Baltimore Ravens were the best team in the NFL all season, but that meant nothing when they fell 17-10 to the Kansas Chiefs […] The post Ravens fall short against Chiefs, end season one game shy of the Super Bowl appeared first on AFRO American Newspapers.
By Cordell Woodland
Special to the AFRO
The Baltimore Ravens were the best team in the NFL all season, but that meant nothing when they fell 17-10 to the Kansas Chiefs in the 2023 AFC Championship game.
“I’m proud of the season that they had,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh told the media after the game.
His team played with pride for much of the season and galvanized a city behind an explosive brand of football. The Ravens (13-4) entered the Jan.28 game with talent spread across the field and belief in themselves that translated into victories.
This time, however, they fell short against a team familiar with uprooting other team’s perfectly developed plans. The Chiefs found a way – again – to play hard-nosed, unforgiving football right when they needed to take down over an opponent. The result was close to a perfect game and a return to the Super Bowl for the fourth time in five seasons.
The Chiefs (11-6) will face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday, February 11 at 6:30 p.m. on CBS. This is a rematch of Super Bowl LIV. The Chiefs defeated the 49ers that year, 31-20.
It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. Not in a game where Baltimore’s star quarterback needed to prove himself in the playoffs. Not in a game when he showed glimpses of his brilliance – completing a 13-yard pass to himself in the first half – but could not lead his team to victory.
“It’s crazy,” Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson said. “We had some opportunities out there. We’ve just got to take advantage of them. We can’t turn the ball over, fumble, throw an interception, or stuff like that.”
The Chiefs’ quarterback has become an expert in tough situations and once again – backed by a tremendous defense – showed the country his pedigree.
In the first quarter, both teams left their mark by scoring a touchdown. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes found tight end Travis Kelce on a nice out-and-up route against Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton for a 19-yard touchdown. Later that quarter, Jackson made his highlight play when he escaped out of a sack and found Zay Flowers in the end-zone for a 30-yard touchdown.
Early in the game, both Jackson and Mahomes were making jaw-dropping plays. The Chiefs would go on to pick up another touchdown on their second drive of the game thanks to a two-yard touchdown run by Isiah Pacheco. The Chiefs converted on four third downs on that drive.
The Chiefs scored on a field goal just before halftime to carry a 17-7 lead into halftime. The Ravens struggled offensively after that initial Flowers touchdown as their next three drives of the half resulted in a strip sack fumble followed by back-to-back punts.
The Ravens had only fallen behind by multiple scores once this season and that was in Week 18 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. A game where the Ravens played minimal starters and the starters that did play didn’t play a lot.
Meanwhile, Kelce collected nine catches for 96 yards and a touchdown in the first half but in the second half, he was held to two catches for 20 yards. Hamilton said that the second half was a testament to how the guys were fighting.
“We came out in the second half and shut them out, and it’s just a testament to everybody on this defense locking in,” Hamilton said.
The fourth quarter had its share of fireworks but the Ravens were on the downside of most of it. Flowers, who made a great 54-yard catch on the back end of the third quarter, decided to taunt cornerback L’Jarius Sneed at the end of the play resulting in a 15-yard penalty.
The Ravens found their way back inside the red zone a few plays later. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Jackson found Flowers wide-open with a great chance to score. Flowers got near the goal line and dove out while reaching the ball across the plane. Sneed made a great play by knocking the ball out of Flowers hands in midair and the Chiefs recovered the fumble in the end-zone for a touchback.
That was a huge turning point in the game as it would’ve cut the Chiefs’ lead to three. Instead, the Ravens were left with nothing but another self-inflicted wound. After the game, Flowers was asked if he thought he had gotten the ball over the plane before the fumble. “Yes, I thought I did, honestly, but I’ll learn from my mistakes,” he said.
Despite the costly turnover, the Ravens’ defense forced the Chiefs into a punt, giving their offense another shot. The offense would find a way to move the ball 74 yards up the field before Jackson threw a backbreaking interception by trying to get the ball to Isaiah Likely in triple coverage.
“I just tried to let him turn around and make a play,” Jackson said. “I thought it was going to be a pass interference, but it is what it is. The safety made a great play and made an interception.”
The Ravens forced yet another punt but could only muster a field goal out of it. The Chiefs got the ball back and picked up two first downs to end the game and go on to their fourth Super Bowl in five years.
“It’s kind of how life goes,” Ravens wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said, adding that the “ toughest part is it ended” without the team having an opportunity to “play in the game that we all dream of as kids.”
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