So the regular-season-matchup-of-the-year was a bit more lopsided than we expected.
The Kansas City Chiefs flat-out dominated the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football. Were it not for some costly missteps, it would have been a complete blowout. As it was, the Chiefs outplayed (and out-executed) a team many thought was the best team in football. The defending champions re-asserted themselves at the top of the NFL’s food chain.
Here are a few Chiefs that stood out to us on Monday night.
- Patrick Lavon Mahomes: The reigning Super Bowl MVP was masterful in primetime, slicing up a good Ravens defense all night. He finishing 31 of 42 with 385 yards and five scores. Beautiful touchdown passes to Mecole Hardman and Tyreek Hill reminded everyone that he’s the best player in the NFL — and it’s not particularly close. A leaping pump fake — along with touchdown passes to Anthony Sherman (underhanded) and Eric Fisher (!) — made it feel like Mahomes was just toying with the Ravens.
- Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins: The highlight-reel plays may belong to Hardman and Hill, but the Chiefs were able to drive up and down the field because of these two workhorses, who combined for 13 catches for 149 yards. Both guys put on a clinic on how to find the open spot — and then getting to the first-down marker. Both were also working their tails off, blocking a physical Ravens defense.
- Steve Spagnuolo and Andy Reid: This team came ready to play. Reid was creative on offense, pulling out plays we’ve never seen before. They spread the ball around, executed, and went after the Ravens’ weaknesses. The defense was aggressive and tough all night, with four sacks, three forced fumbles and only 13 points allowed against a really good offense; holding Lamar Jackson to only 97 yards passing meant that his 83 yards rushing just didn’t matter. Injuries didn’t matter much, either; the Chiefs were without Andrew Wylie on offense and lost L’Jarius Sneed on defense — and didn’t miss a beat.
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire: The rookie put up 134 combined yards as he helped his team grind out a victory. Good things happened when CEH touched the ball — and bad things happened when he didn’t. Edwards-Helaire is making the case to be a bigger and bigger part of the Chiefs’ offense.
- Mecole Hardman: Even Kent knew Hardman was due. He had four catches for 81 yards and a touchdown — and should’ve had a second touchdown. Big plays are just what he does.
- Darwin Thompson: It wasn’t the best night for 34. The Chiefs gave up a return touchdown for the first time in years — and it was Thompson who appeared to give up the outside path to the returner. Then there was his second-half fumble. Chiefs Twitter was livid. We thought he’d have opportunities this week. It’s safe to say he didn’t make the most of them.
- Harrison Butker: You have to wonder what changed in eight days. The hero of the Los Angeles Chargers game struggled mightily in Baltimore. Butker missed an extra point and a field goal in the first half — and even the ones he did make looked shaky. At least for this week, Justin Tucker’s title is safe.
- The fullback dive on fourth-and-short: Don’t doubt the decision. Instead, question the play-call. This one should be retired.