Chiefs

Chiefs-Ravens at half: Baltimore gambles on fourth down, then boom! Mahomes to Hardman

The Ravens came to Kansas City with little interest in using their kickers, at least early on.

Baltimore went for it on fourth down three times in the first half, twice when conventional wisdom called for a punt. One attempt worked, the other didn’t.

Also, the Ravens took an extra point off the board when a Chiefs penalty moved the ball 1 yard from the goal line. That play also failed.

The Chiefs led 23-6 at the break.

Observations

1. On their first possession, the Ravens did what they do best, advancing the ball on the ground and chewing the clock.

Baltimore rushed for 53 yards on seven attempts on an 84-yard touchdown drive the first time the Ravens touched the ball. In a bit of daring, the Ravens went for a fourth-and-3 from the Chiefs’ 9. Lamar Jackson dropped back but he took off and gained seven. On the next snap, Mark Ingram bulled in from the 2.

When Chris Jones was called for a penalty on the successful extra-point try, the Ravens took the point off the board and went for two from the 1-yard line. But a group of defenders led by Frank Clark snuffed out a Jackson sweep.

The Ravens entered the game leading the NFL in rushing at 223 yards and in time of possession at 38:52. This drive went 6:30.

2. The Chiefs did what they do best late in the first half.

Somehow, speedy wide receiver Mecole Hardman broke free, found himself ridiculously open in the Ravens’ secondary, and at that point it was a matter of not dropping the ball. He didn’t.

Hardman finished the 83-yard touchdown. Harrison Butker missed the extra point, leaving the Chiefs’ lead at 20-6.

The play pushed Mahomes to 273 passing yards (20 of 25) for the first half. That’s a season low for first-half passing yards by Mahomes, who had 313 the first half in each of the past two games.

3. On fourth-and-2 from the Chiefs’ 47, Ravens coach John Harbaugh kept punter Sam Koch on the sideline. Bad move. Jackson’s short pass to Hollywood Brown bounced. And the Chiefs took over on a drive that ended with Mahomes’ beautiful 18-yard strike to Demarcus Robinson, who looked up in time to have the ball float into his arm for a one-handed catch. Robinson did a good job getting both feet down for his third touchdown reception this season.

4. The Ravens looked like they kept the Chiefs out of the end zone at the end of the first quarter. Mahomes had to throw away a pass on third and goal from the 4.

But Ravens linebacker Matthew Judon was flagged for a horse-collar tackle on Mahomes and the Chiefs scored a touchdown on LeSean McCoy’s short run. McCoy scored his first touchdown as a Chief behind two offensive linemen who weren’t starters when the season began.

Cameron Erving started at tackle for the first time this season, taking over the Eric Fisher, who left last week’s game at Oakland in the first series with a core muscle injury. Sunday, guard Andrew Wylie was injured on the final play of the first quarter, and veteran Jeff Allen stepped in at left guard.

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