BALTIMORE (AP)It’s been a year since the Baltimore Ravens had to shift into bounce-back mode after absorbing a lopsided regular-season defeat at home.
The Ravens (2-1) thought they had something special brewing before a 34-20 loss to Kansas City on Monday night drastically altered that perspective.
Fortunately, there’s plenty of time left to get back on course, just as there was last September when a 40-25 bashing by visiting Cleveland dropped Baltimore’s record to 2-2.
In the wake of that defeat, the Ravens regrouped in spectacular fashion by rattling off 12 straight wins to finish with the best record in the NFL. So, even if a similar performance is highly unlikely, at least Baltimore knows there’s no need to panic after an ugly early season loss.
Especially since this one came against the defending Super Bowl champions and Patrick Mahomes, one of the best quarterbacks in the game.
”The good thing about playing a team like that – one that is hitting on all cylinders – is they can show you where we’re weak at, and they did,” cornerback Jimmy Smith said. ”So, we get the chance to go back and fix it. I don’t think our team is discouraged by any means. I think it’s just an opportunity to go see what happened, look at it, fix it up, tweak some things, maybe add some new things and go out and play.”
The similarity between this loss and the one to Cleveland last year escaped coach John Harbaugh.
”I don’t see the comparison,” he said. ”Every year is different. We’re a different team, different everything. We just have to take this situation as we find it and find our way through it and build as a football team.”
On a night in which the Ravens allowed 517 yards and could muster only 228, only the special teams performed up to expectations – and then some.
Rookie Devin Duvernayreturned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown to get Baltimore to 13-10 in the second quarter. The third-round pick out of Texas has been a welcome addition, especially after kick returner De’Anthony Thomas opted out because of the pandemic.
Also, rookie James Proche had a 16-yard punt return on his lone attempt.
Sam Koch averaged 49 yards on his three punts and placed one inside the 20. And, a usual, Justin Tucker was on target. He nailed both his field-goal tries to remain perfect for the year (7 for 7) and raise his all-time NFL career best rate to 91%.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The hope for Baltimore is that the loss of safety Tavon Young to a season-ending knee injury in Week 2 wasn’t the reason for the shoddy showing against Mahomes, but rather that the 2018 NFL MVP was just too good to contain.
Mahomes threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns without being intercepted or sacked.
”He’s an extremely elite quarterback,” Smith said. ”He knows how to make the hard throws, and he fits the ball in tight pockets.”
Tight end Nick Boyle scored Baltimore’s lone touchdown on offense on a tough 5-yard catch in the fourth quarter.
”It’s always good to score, especially for me,” said Boyle, who usually blocks on the line while tight end Mark Andrews handles the downfield throws. ”It’s kind of a hard thing for me to do. I’m usually getting stopped at the 1-yard line and stuff.”
It was his third touchdown in 67 games.
Quarterback Lamar Jackson peeled off a 30-yard runon Baltimore’s opening possession, which ended with a field goal. That was his highlight during a night in which the 2019 NFL MVP was outplayed by Mahomes.
Jackson went 15 for 28 for 97 yards and was sacked four times, numbers that offset his 83 yards rushing.
”We’ve got to come in and finish how we start,” Jackson said. ”We’ve got to turn up and play better.”
Perhaps the best facet of the game for Baltimore was that no one received a significant injury.
77 – That was the Chiefs’ third-down conversion rate percentage, including 6 for 7 in the first half when Kansas City went up 27-10.
”It speaks for itself, 10 of 13 on third down,” safety Chuck Clark said. ”(Mahomes) threw it lights out.”
The Ravens keep it in-state Sunday when they travel south to face Washington, which followed an uplifting season-opening win over Philadelphia with losses to Arizona and Cleveland.
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