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6 winners and 3 losers in the Chiefs’ AFC Championship win over the Ravens

Which Kansas City players attracted our attention as the team won the 2023 AFC title?

AFC Championship - Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

Your Kansas City Chiefs are once again in the Super Bowl after a 17-10 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday afternoon.

It’s surreal and unexpected — but at the same time, it feels like the new normal. Kansas City controlled the AFC Championship from start to finish, showing a smothering defense and an efficient offense.

The future Hall of Fame quarterback Patrick Mahomes fed his future Hall of Fame tight end Travis Kelce. Both added plays to their career highlight reels. Somehow, the Chiefs outgained the Ravens on the ground (although just barely), dominated time of possession, had far fewer penalties, gave up fewer sacks and won the turnover battle.

What a day for this team... this city... and these guys.


AFC Divisional Playoffs - Kansas City Chiefs v Buffalo Bills Photo by Perry Knotts/Getty Images

Wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling: Whoever is writing the infamous NFL scripts went crazy on this one. After a mostly disastrous season — and with the game on the line — Mahomes targeted Valdes-Scantling deep. He went to the ground and the pass fell right into his arms. This time, he would not let go — and his catch sealed another AFC title for his teammates. Poetic redemption is now spelled M-V-S.

Tight end Travis Kelce: This was an all-time playoff performance from the 11-year veteran. From snatching the ball out of the air on a fourth down to another diving third-down conversion, he was great from beginning to end. He had 11 catches on 11 targets for 116 yards and a touchdown. That is an elite stat line — especially against an All-Pro safety and the league’s No. 1 defense.

Running back Isiah Pacheco: Head coach Andy Reid and his staff were determined to run the football against the Ravens. They hammered Pacheco into Baltimore’s stout front seven and it helped shorten the game. While his longest run was just 12 yards — and he averaged less than three yards per carry — he also scored a touchdown and was a focal point of Kansas City’s offense. No moment is too big for Pacheco.

Safety Justin Reid: Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson is a difficult man to bring down. He shook off linebacker Leo Chenal — among others — but on a third-and-9 with 3:25 remaining, Reid was able to get the job done. It forced a punt that pretty much ended any hope of a Baltimore comeback. He also played tough against the run, with a tackle for loss and a couple of other stops. Honorable mention: safety Deon Bush, who came in for an injured Mike Edwards and got an interception in the end zone.

EDGE George Karlaftis: The second-year player not only sacked Jackson, but also recovered the fumble forced by Charles Omenihu’s strip-sack. Nothing came easy against Jackson and the Ravens, but Furious George was — as always — relentless, making a huge impact on this game.

Quarterback Patrick Lavon Mahomes: The offense wasn’t always great. It played conservatively and punted way too much. But when plays needed to be made, Mahomes delivered with fantastic efficiency. He completed his first 10 passes, ran when he needed to run, threw the ball away when it was necessary and led his team to victory with an unwavering conviction. He’s well on his way to being the greatest to ever do it. With each postseason game, we continue to be witnesses to history.


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

Linebacker Nick Bolton: The Ravens saw a weakness in the second level of the Kansas City defense — and they exploited it. Bolton was targeted early and often in coverage, giving up Baltimore’s only touchdown to Zay Flowers (which, of course, wasn’t a fair matchup for Bolton). He also had a chance at a huge second-half interception but wasn’t able to bring it in. While the entire defense was spectacular, Bolton wasn’t quite able to contribute in the way we’re accustomed to seeing.

Tight end Noah Gray: He had a strong regular season — but in the postseason, his production just hasn’t been there. On Sunday, he caught two of his five targets for eight yards. At least one of his misses could have extended a drive.

Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire: The Raven’ defense was keyed in to stop Kansas City’s running game. They never let Edwards-Helaire get off the starting blocks. His two receptions went for three yards — and his one carry went for a single yard. Perhaps the Super Bowl — where he couldn’t contribute a year ago — will be his time for redemption.

Note: Applying the labels “winners” and “losers” is not intended to be a judgment on the talent or character of any of these players. It’s just a simple way to grade their performance in a single game. No disrespect is intended.

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