September is too early for statements, or at least for important statements, but it’s hard to imagine a more impressive start to the season by the Chiefs.
They beat the Ravens 33-28 at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, pushing their record to 3-0, with all three wins against AFC opponents.
The Ravens looked the part of a next-team-up challenger to the Chiefs and New England Patriots, but the Chiefs showed themselves to be the clearly superior team. The Ravens had trailed for only a few minutes total in their first two games against lackluster competition.
The Chiefs took the lead early in the second quarter and then ran away, and finally kept the Ravens away.
The Ravens are built in a way that should give the Chiefs problems. They have a dynamic quarterback, physical running game and a combination of speed and intermediate receiving threats that can stretch a secondary. On defense, they are physical and creative up front with some speed in their own secondary.
And they just weren’t up for it.
What happens in September is often only tangentially related to what happens in January. Because, who knows. John Harbaugh is a good-enough coach, and Lamar Jackson has enough talent. The Browns could turn into what so many wanted them to be. Whatever.
Right now, it’s looking very much like the Chiefs and the Patriots and a bunch of other teams playing for that division-round loss.
This column will go old-school, like the sweet gold end zones, with bullet points rather than one main thought.
Patrick Mahomes was amazing, again. The Ravens played physical and smart, disguising blitzes and confusing protections. They played with a particular edge against Mahomes, making sure to hit him as often as possible.
Mahomes did nothing but get up and remain unfazed, completing 27 of 37 passes for 374 yards and three touchdowns. He threw a couple passes that could have been intercepted, but none that were actually intercepted.
We say it every week, but we’ll keep saying it every week because it’s true and should not be taken for granted: this is the biggest story in the next decade of Kansas City sports, a wildly talented quarterback in the perfect place to succeed, and he seems to be getting better all the time.
His slide to get out of a block on that first half run play was genius, too.
The defense, meanwhile, had sort of a Rorschach Test performance.
Let’s start negative: They can’t stop the run, and at times they were just manhandled. It appeared the Ravens could’ve run a circa 1993 high school smashmouth Wing T offense and given the Chiefs a challenge.
I am exaggerating, I think.
Also, the lack of ball skills in the secondary is really hard to miss. There are plays to be made out there, and they’re just getting done. The tackling was awful.
Now let’s go positive: They adjusted well, pressured Jackson enough and recovered from being beaten physically to limit the Raven’s production.
Also, Frank Clark made his first sack as a Chief, on a key play in the fourth quarter.
I’ve been consistent on this: the group will be better than last year, and has shown the potential to be much better. It’ll take time to know what they are, though.
But back to offense. Demarcus Robinson is doing everything he can with the opportunity of his career.
That touchdown catch near the sideline of the end zone in the first half was just silly. The way that play is designed, and with the pressure the Ravens generated, Mahomes had to throw the ball before Robinson began a double move.
Mahomes threw, then Robinson cut in, then Robinson cut out, found the ball, and caught it with one hand before going out of bounds.
Stunning burst of athleticism and skill.
Now, I’m headed downstairs to the locker room. Please come back around 6 or 7 p.m. today for the game column. I mentioned this on Twitter and Facebook, but the game column and this week’s Mellinger Minutes will be exclusive to subscribers.
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