The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game, advancing to their fourth Super Bowl appearance in five years. The 17-10 dogfight played out like a classic, with veteran champs facing off against green newcomers who were unable to handle their emotions.
Kansas City’s defenders shut down projected NFL MVP Lamar Jackson and Baltimore’s celebrated offensive mentor, Todd Monken. The Ravens also repeatedly shot themselves in the foot, accumulating eight penalties for 95 yards.
Here are the top five reasons Patrick Mahomes and his team won yet another AFC championship.
1. The Ravens committed too many mistakes
The Chiefs played a strong game, particularly on defence, while the Ravens suffered with penalties, giving up too many yards. Even veteran players like Kyle Van Noy contributed to the mistakes. Discipline is essential when facing seasoned champs, and penalties harmed the Ravens.
The coaching staff is criticised for having few running attempts, but this is Monken’s first postseason game as offensive coordinator. Although he abandoned the run early, his passing game was good, and the game could have turned out differently if he made less mistakes. Firing anyone on the staff might be hasty, considering the limited pool of good coaches in the league.
2. Chiefs’ experience and Mahomes’ smart moves
Unlike the Ravens’ inexperienced errors, the Chiefs, relying on their seasoned players, smoothly navigated the game. While not dominating the scoreboard, they capitalized on every opportunity, committing only three penalties and no fumbles or interceptions. Mahomes showcased his adaptability, recognizing the strong performance of the defense and adjusting his gameplay accordingly.
Mahomes’ strategic decisions, such as prioritizing safe choices and avoiding turnovers, often go unnoticed amid his impressive career. Even starting 11-for-11 against the top-ranked defense, he demonstrates a knack for making the right plays, as highlighted by coach Andy Reid, who praised Mahomes for wisely taking a sack to manage the clock effectively.
3. Travis Kelce: Rising above doubts and setting records
As the Chiefs struggled offensively during the season, people began to wonder if Travis Kelce still had it or if dating the world’s top pop star was influencing his performance. In the face of doubts about how he’d handle the Ravens’ formidable secondary, he dominated with 11 catches for 116 yards and one touchdown.
In doing so, he surpassed Jerry Rice for the most catches in NFL playoff history, with 156 in 21 games.
According to Mahomes, it doesn’t even matter if he runs the appropriate routes. “Of course, Travis ran the wrong route, and he ended up getting the football,” Mahomes said in a statement. “When he’s one-on-one, I give him a chance. I threw the ball, and he made a great catch. “He is a special player, man.”
4. Patrick Mahomes
Mahomes’ outstanding performance, completing 30 of 39 passes for 241 yards and a 100.5 passer rating, says volumes about his stature as probably the greatest quarterback since Tom Brady. Not only do the numbers stand out, but Mahomes’ approach to the game is defined by his drive for greater achievement. His unwavering pursuit of excellence distinguishes him and strengthens his status as a quarterback with unrivalled skill and ambition.
Kelce shared an interesting anecdote on his podcast about a pivotal third-down play in which Mahomes modified his strategy on the fly. Despite his initial concerns, Kelce recognised the necessity of trusting Mahomes’ instincts and recognised him as the team’s primary decision-maker. Mahomes consistently steps up in critical moments, showcasing both composure and a knack for turning challenges into opportunities.
5. The Kansas City defense blocking the Ravens
Without a doubt, the Chiefs’ defence deserves credit for driving them to another Super Bowl. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo showed his strategic ability by developing excellent game plans against difficult offences ranging from the unbeaten Patriots to Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen. During their latest victory four different defenders, including Omenihu, Karlaftis, Wharton, and Reid, sacked Jackson, interrupting the Ravens’ rhythm.
Spagnuolo’s aggressive blitzing plan, reminiscent of “Remember the Titans,” took the Ravens off guard, with Jackson admitting they didn’t expect such relentless pressure. The Chiefs alternated their man and zone coverages, accounting for three of the four sacks. Notably, forcing two turnovers was critical in securing the victory. As Kansas City strives for back-to-back Super Bowl victories, they join a small group of clubs who have reached consecutive title games since 2000, hoping to replicate Brady’s Patriots’ success in 2003 and 2004.
Catch Super Bowl LVIII on Feb. 11, airing on CBS. You can also watch it on Nickelodeon and stream it on Paramount+.