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‘Big uglies’ key to Chiefs knocking off Ravens on Monday night

The Chiefs offensive linemen performed well against the Ravens’ blitz; one even caught a touchdown.

NFL: Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

A week ago — against the Los Angeles Chargers — the Kansas City Chiefs offense was held to six points and 92 yards in the first half. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes admitted that he struggled at the beginning of the game — but the Chiefs managed to turn it around in the second half to come away with a victory in overtime.

Entering the long-awaited AFC showdown with the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night, the Chiefs knew they had to play better — and against one of the better defenses in the league.

The Ravens defense blitzed the Chiefs on 45% of Mahomes’ dropbacks (19) but generated pressure only twice, per Next Gen Stats. That was a key factor in their 34-20 victory on Monday night.

“[The Ravens] do a bunch of different things (defensively), so that’s the tricky part about this,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said after the win. “I am proud of our offensive line, none of that happens without them, so I thought they did a nice job picking things up.”

The Chiefs had a late scratch along the line, when right guard Andrew Wylie could not play due to a stomach illness. The Chiefs started an offseason signee — veteran Mike Remmers — in his place, and he seemed to fit in nicely.

“For Remmers to step up against a really good defense that blitzes a lot and be prepared and accept the challenge against a great defensive line – I thought he did a great job,” Mahomes said. “It shows we have a depth at that position. We have a lot of guys there that I trust to protect me and give me time to make throws to those guys.”

The Chiefs quarterback finished 15 of 19 for 191 yards and three touchdowns against blitz pressure and 31 of 42 for 385 yards and four touchdowns on the night. Reid acknowledged how difficult such success could be given the breadth of looks the Ravens defense offers opposing teams.

Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

“They go about everything and anything that you are able to see, and they just do it naturally,” Reid added. “I don’t know how they learn all of that, but they do, and they do it so well and accurate. They always have a little wrinkle for you every time you play them. There was something new in there. You can’t possibly cover all of the different things that they do, but you just have to stay disciplined in your rules and go with it from there.”

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes noted how Kansas City had to adjust on the fly when the Ravens debuted a new blitz look that had yet to be put on film.

“They definitely had a blitz package that we weren’t necessarily prepared for,” he said. “At the same time, we had talked about different stuff that they could do. Obviously, we had some unscouted looks, but I thought the offensive line did a great job of picking those guys up — even though were hitting in gaps they hadn’t hit so far this season. It’s about communication throughout the game and making adjustments. I thought we did a good job of that.”

In the fourth quarter — after the Ravens had cut the Chiefs’ lead to a touchdown — the Chiefs asked one of their offensive linemen to do more than block. Left tackle Eric Fisher reported as an eligible receiver and faded off the line to the back left of the end zone.

“We put it in at training camp,” Reid said. “We worked on it a little bit when [the reporters] weren’t looking, so we were able to pull it out and use it here. ‘Fish’ is always bragging about how good his hands are, so he did a pretty good job, I have to give him credit. I was a little nervous when he had to jump, but he did a nice job.”

The ball was high, but Fisher caught the ball for the touchdown anyway, cementing the Chiefs’ lead and victory. Mahomes recalled a moment in training camp practice when Fisher proved he could make the tough grab.

Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

“There was one time I threw it high just to see how much range he had because most times he was wide open, and I could throw it right to his chest. I thought he did a great job. The dude is an athlete – that’s the reason he’s been playing the position so well for so long. I’m sure he’ll be talking about it for years to come, so I’m glad he got in the end zone.”

That — and fullback Anthony Sherman’s score — were wide receiver Sammy Watkins’ favorite plays of the game.

“Guys that don’t get recognized — they definitely got rewarded tonight,” Watkins said.