BALTIMORE — Quarterback Lamar Jackson insisted there would have been a different outcome if the Ravens had not turned the ball over three times against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
“We’re just angry. We know how hard we worked to get here,” Jackson said moments after the game. “We had some opportunities. We just have to take advantage.”
The turnovers were just part of the problems for the Ravens, who were outplayed and outcoached by Kansas City in a 17-10 loss that brought a bitter taste to the end of their season.
The Ravens had the league’s No. 1 rushing attack in the regular season, but offensive coordinator Todd Monken abandoned the run. The Ravens ran the ball only 16 times — eight by Jackson — for 81 yards against a Chiefs team that allowed 182 yards rushing the previous week to the Buffalo Bills. The running backs received six carries — three each for Gus Edwards and Justice Hill.
The Ravens had several uncharacteristic errors on offense and rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers was involved in two key ones. Flowers caught a 54-yard pass from Jackson but was then penalized 15 yards for taunting after the catch. On that same drive, Flowers fumbled just before crossing the goal line on an 8-yard pass from Jackson that was recovered by Kansas City in the end zone for a touchback early in the fourth quarter.
On the next drive, Jackson threw into double coverage and was intercepted by safety Deon Bush in the end zone.
Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald made effective adjustments at halftime by applying more pressure on quarterback Patrick Mahomes and held the Chiefs scoreless over the final two quarters.
However, most of the damage had already been done on a day when the Ravens’ offense never found a rhythm. They didn’t throw a pass to wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. until there were 10 minutes remaining in the game.
One of the main priorities entering the game was shutting down Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, but he caught all 11 targets and finished with 116 yards receiving.
The Ravens’ defense also played undisciplined. An unnecessary roughness penalty on Kyle Van Noy and a roughing the passer penalty on Travis Jones on the Chiefs’ final drive of the second quarter led to a 52-yard field goal by Harrison Butker for a 17-7 lead at the half.
Jadeveon Clowney was also hit with a roughing the passer penalty, and Roquan Smith was flagged for unnecessary roughness in the fourth quarter that helped Kansas City extend drives.
“We just let ourselves down,” Smith said. “It sucks just knowing how close we were. At the end of the day, it just has to add more fuel to you and that’s how I’m taking it.”
The Chiefs are a team that takes full advantage when their opponent makes mistakes. They’re going to their fourth Super Bowl in five years.
It’s a lesson the Ravens learned the hard way.
“We’re going to build [this offseason], get better, grind, and try to be in this position again, but on the other side,” Jackson said.