After missing two field goals in a game for the first time in his NFL career, it all came down to Harrison Butker.
This time, his 36-yard field goal attempt split the uprights to give the Chiefs a 27-24 lead over Baltimore with 4 minutes, 42 seconds left in Kansas City’s first overtime game of the year.
“Butker at the end ended up being the hero,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after the 27-24 win. “I was looking at him like, ‘Ah he missed two kicks,’ he comes back and he’s the man. But there’s a lesson there. I saw our players going up to him saying, ‘Just hang in there, we’re going to need you again.’ And we did. That’s this football team.”
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After Butker’s field goal, it was up to the defense to do something, anything, to keep quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Ravens out of the end zone.
Linebackers Dee Ford and Justin Houston, who forced overtime with his strip sack and fumble recovery, answered the call, sacking Jackson on second down.
Facing third-and-22, Robert Griffin III, playing in place of an injured Jackson, nearly threw a pick to cornerback Orlando Scandrick on the next play, but Scandrick dropped the ball. It didn’t matter, though, as the Chiefs (11-2) sealed their victory on the next play: Kendall Fuller batted Griffin’s pass away to help the Chiefs clinch a playoff spot with three weeks left in the regular season, handing the Ravens (7-6) their first loss at Arrowhead Stadium in the process.
“These are the best wins,” Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. “When you have to battle, you trade blows with somebody, that’s a great football team, physical football that has a lot of talent. When you trade blows with a team like that and you come out with a win in the end, those are the wins that you remember. Those are the wins that really satisfy you the most.”
Facing their first fourth-quarter deficit at home all season, the Chiefs had their first major gut-check moment of the afternoon.
With four minutes to go, this was the time for Mahomes to pull off another miracle.
Mahomes lived up to his legend by converting a fourth-and-9 on a 48-yard strike to Tyreek Hill with a pass few would even attempt. A few plays later, he capped the drive with a five-yard touchdown strike to Damien Williams to tie the game at 24 with less than a minute to go.
“That was crazy,” said Butker, who watched it all unfold from the sideline “It’s something that only Patrick and Tyreek can do together. It’s awesome.”
Then, the Chiefs’ defense, which gave up 182 rushing yards to that point, whipped out a little wizardry of its own courtesy of Houston. The veteran linebacker stripped the ball from Jackson and recovered the fumble at Baltimore’s 23 to set up for what would’ve been a game-winning 43-yard field goal.
But the ball went wide right — the second wide right kick from Butker on Sunday afternoon — and sent the game to the Chiefs’ first overtime of the season.
“The thing I’m most proud of, the resiliency of the group,” Reid said. ”The highs and lows, the ebbs and flows of the game. Nobody was hanging their head. Everybody came out, they remained positive and kept themselves in attack mode on both sides of the ball.”
Long before the overtime period, the Chiefs got on the board first Sunday afternoon as running back Damien Williams scored his first touchdown as a Chief — and first rushing score since 2016 — with a one-yard run late in the first quarter. But it didn’t take the Ravens’ offense long to answer as they ran the ball eight straight times on their first scoring drive, finishing the possession with a three-yard run to the end zone by Kenneth Dixon to tie the game at 7 in the second quarter.
The Chiefs had a chance to take the lead back on the next drive, but Butker missed a 51-yard field goal. Instead, the Ravens kicked a 28-yard field goal on their next drive to go up 10-7.
Leaning heavily on tight end Travis Kelce, the Chiefs responded with a nine-play, 60 yard scoring drive to go up 14-10 on a 15-yard Kelce touchdown reception late in the second quarter. Thanks to a three-and-out forced by the Chiefs’ defense on the next drive, Kansas City tacked on a field goal as time expired in the half to take a 17-10 lead into half.
Injuries piled up for the Chiefs in the first half with three starters banged up by halftime. Ware hurt his shoulder as he fell out of bounds at the end of a 31-yard catch-and-run. Hill played through two injuries, first hurting his left wrist as it appeared to make contact with a helmet in the first quarter. He also appeared to hurt his heel in the second quarter. While both Hill and Ware came back out after halftime, left guard Cam Erving never returned after hurting his knee in the second quarter.
Though only one of those injuries appeared to be significant, it’s still hardly what the Chiefs needed with a Thursday night showdown against the Chargers on the horizon.
In the third quarter, the Ravens tied it up at 17 after a clock-chewing 7 minute, 15 second drive. It was exactly what Baltimore needed to do to hang with the AFC West favorites, grinding out the drive on the ground before tossing a 10-yard pass to Maxx Williams on fourth-and-2 to put six more points on the board.
But as bad as the defense was at times on Sunday, it got some crucial stops when needed most. With the game tied in the fourth quarter, a combination of the Chiefs’ defense and self-inflicted penalties against the Ravens kept a Baltimore drive from going much of anywhere. The Ravens were forced to punt, giving Mahomes the ball with 6:50 to go.
It could’ve been an MVP moment, a chance to lead a game-winning drive at home. But that would have to wait.
Instead, Mahomes took a sack on third down, and Dustin Colquitt had to punt the ball away after a quick three-and-out.
That’s when Baltimore returner Cyrus Jones collected the ball just past midfield and ran it back 55 yards to set up for a nine-yard touchdown pass from Lamar Jackson to John Brown just a couple plays later.
With that touchdown strike, the Ravens took a 24-17 lead with 4:04 to go.
This was a moment made for the high-flying Chiefs’ offense. Instead, though, the Chiefs started off sputtering. To make matters worse, Demarcus Robinson was whistled for a false start as the team faced 4th-and-4 with 1:29 to go.
And then, the Mahomes miracle: A fourth-and-9 pass from Mahomes to a limping Tyreek Hill on a throw that only the most elite quarterbacks in the NFL even attempt.
“You always want to be in the position where you can go win a football game or go tie it to win it,” Mahomes said. “It was a crazy play. I thought the offensive line gave me a ton of time and I extended the play and Tyreek came back to the ball and made a great play.”
Suddenly, the Chiefs’ death rattle turned into a breath of life. With the 48-yard completion, they were sitting on Baltimore’s 12 with plenty of time to make more magic happen.
This time, Williams got into the end zone for the second time Sunday afternoon with a five-yard touchdown pass from Mahomes with 53 seconds to go.
“I’m not sure if this is the earliest that we’ve qualified (for the playoffs) in the season, but record of 11-2 is very impressive,” team owner and CEO Clark Hunt said. “Obviously we still have a lot to play for in the coming weeks as we try to improve our seeding in the playoffs. So it’s a great first step, but it’s just that. It’s a first step.”