The Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl-bound for the fourth time in the last five seasons after downing the No. 1 seed in the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens, 17-10 in the AFC Championship Game.
Kansas City’s defense, in particular, dominated the matchup. The Chiefs held the Ravens to their fewest points in a game this season, forced two turnovers in the end zone and three for the game in total, and held this year’s presumptive NFL MVP, quarterback Lamar Jackson, to just a 75.5 passer rating.
“Our defense was outstanding,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “We were able to get a lead, and we were able to maintain that lead and did it with great personality there as they’ve done throughout the season.”
The two end zone takeaways, in particular, came in massive moments in the second half to preserve the Chiefs’ lead.
Kansas City led by 10 when, from the nine-yard line on the first play of the fourth quarter, Jackson hit Zay Flowers for a short completion, but as the rookie receiver dove for the end zone Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed forced a fumble, punching the ball out with Trent McDuffie recovering it for a touchback. That was a moment of revenge for Sneed, as four plays earlier Flowers was assessed a taunting penalty for tossing a ball at the defensive back and standing over him following a big play.
On the following Ravens drive, still trailing by 10, Jackson capped off a 12-play, 74-yard drive by throwing into triple coverage in the end zone, trying to force a pass to tight end Isaiah Likely before Deon Bush picked it off.
Baltimore would tack on three points on its final drive of the game, but it was too little, too late against the dominant Chiefs defense.
While the final score only included 27 total points, it appeared as though the AFC Championship Game would be a shootout after 21 total points were scored in their first 20 minutes of game time.
The Chiefs scored on their first two drives, with Patrick Mahomes finding Travis Kelce for six on the first possession and Isiah Pacheco plowing in from two yards out on the second. Kansas City only added one more score the rest of the game, a field goal, but that was more than enough to pull off the upset win.
Baltimore’s lone touchdown came on its second drive of the contest, with Jackson connecting with Flowers for a 30-yard score.
Mahomes finished the game 30-of-39 passing for 241 yards and the touchdown pass to Kelce. Mahomes is now tied with Terry Bradshaw, John Elway and Peyton Manning with 14 career playoff victories. With a postseason record of 14-3, he also has the second-best postseason winning percentage in NFL history (with at least 10 starts), only trailing the late Bart Starr (.900).
Kelce made plenty of his own history in Sunday’s win. With 11 receptions for a 116 yards and a touchdown, he passed Jerry Rice for the most career playoff receptions in NFL history, and he tied the Hall of Famer for the most 100-yard receiving games in the postseason.
“Travis is always fired up, he’s always fired up, but with the playoffs he’s even more so,” Reid said.
After defeating their fourth different opponent in their four championship games, the Chiefs will gear up for a Super Bowl rematch in two weeks time. Kansas City will face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII, a rematch of Super Bowl LIV, a game the Chiefs won. The 49ers came from behind to defeat the Detroit Lions 34-31 in the NFC Championship Game.
Super Bowl LVIII will kick off at 5:30 p.m. central time on Sunday, Feb. 11.
For more on the Kansas City Chiefs’ 17-10 win over the Baltimore Ravens, check out 580 Sports Talk Monday from 2-6 p.m. on 580 WIBW.