The Ravens defense couldn’t hold on to a late lead in regulation and a pair of Ravens quarterbacks couldn’t lead a late scoring drive at Arrowhead Stadium in a wild, back-and-forth 27-24 overtime loss to the AFC-best Kansas City Chiefs.
Third-string quarterback Robert Griffin III, who finished the game’s final two plays after rookie Lamar Jackson was hurt on the Ravens’ final drive, could not complete a fourth-and-22 pass from the Ravens’ 41. The Chiefs’ win ended a three-game Ravens winning streak with Jackson under center.
The Ravens (7-6) needed the score after Kansas City kicker Harrison Butker converted a 35-yard field goal on the opening possession of overtime.
A last-minute fumble by Jackson almost cost the Ravens in regulation. As the Ravens looked to move into field-goal range, Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston was left unblocked on a second-down blitz and got to Jackson as he wound up. His sack jarred the ball loose, and Houston recovered the ball at the Ravens’ 23.
But Kansas City (11-2) couldn’t move the ball ahead any farther, and Butker’s last-second 43-yard field-goal attempt was no good.
A third-down, 9-yard pass from Jackson (13-for-24 for 147 passing yards and two touchdowns and 71 rushing yards) gave the Ravens a lead late in the fourth quarter, but their defense couldn’t hold the Chiefs’ explosive offense under wraps one last time to secure a 24-17 upset.
On Kansas City’s game-tying drive, quarterback Patrick Mahomes kept the Chiefs’ hopes alive with a miraculous 48-yard pass on fourth down to Tyreek Hill, who found a sliver of space open in the middle of the field as Mahomes sprinted near the sideline.
Mahomes was often magical but, for much of the game, not up to his Most Valuable Player-caliber form. He threw an ill-advised third-quarter interception to safety Chuck Clark — the Ravens’ first pick since Week 5 — and was flustered by a pass rush that produced 15 quarterback hits and three sacks.
He finished 35-for-53 for 377 yards and two touchdowns and a passer rating of 91.5, his first game under 110.0 since early October.
Jonas Shaffer, reporter: The Ravens should’ve won the game. Then they should’ve lost the game. Then they had a chance to tie the game. After almost 70 minutes of football, they exited Arrowhead Stadium with a heartbreaking loss and a moral victory they’re not going to want to accept.
The Ravens weren’t favored to win this, but given how tight the wild-card standings are, they know there’s only so many opportunities they can waste.
Peter Schmuck, columnist: If you could have written a script describing the most frustrating way the Ravens could possibly lose a critical game, it probably wouldn't have done this one justice. The Ravens were one play away from winning the game on a couple of occasions, but they fell victim to some more Patrick Mahomes magic and then tried to fumble the game away in the final minute of regulation.
If you want to find something positive to take out of Kansas City, the Ravens played the best team in the AFC right down to the wire and showed they definitely are a playoff-caliber team. Trouble is, they could have put themselves in very good position to challenge the Pittsburgh Steelers for the division title if they could have kept Mahomes from completing a long last-gasp fourth-down pass to Tyreek Hill to set up a tying touchdown.
This could also have been a wrenching defeat for the Chiefs after they recovered a potentially disastrous fumble by Lamar Jackson, but missed a last-second field goal before overtime. Then they won the coin toss, kicked a field goal and held on to clinch a playoff berth.
The Ravens defense played very well for most of the day, but couldn't keep up with a hobbling Hill late in the game and in overtime. To add injury to insult, Jackson got hurt during the final series of overtime. Ugh.
Jennifer Badie, editor: Once the game went into overtime, you had a sense it wasn’t going to go the Ravens’ way against Patrick Mahomes. But the game between the No. 3 offense and top defense lived up to the hype down to the final play.
The special teams also played a huge part: particularly Cyrus Jones’ 55-yard return with about 5 minutes left in regulation that led to a Ravens touchdown and the two missed field-goal attempts and game-winner by Harrison Butker.
In the end, the Ravens couldn’t stop the Chiefs’ high-powered offense, which Mahomes led down the field 75 yards for a touchdown with 53 seconds left in regulation and 58 yards for a field goal in overtime.
The Ravens also hurt themselves with penalties; they had 11 for 112 yards.
This win would have given the Ravens’ playoff hopes a huge boost. Now there feels to be somewhat of a question mark after Lamar Jackson left the game with an apparent injury in the final drive, and Joe Flacco not seeing game action for over a month.
Childs Walker, reporter: This one is going to hurt badly, because of the way it ended and because it was such a grand opportunity.
But also take a moment to appreciate what an exciting game that was. The Chiefs won because their playmakers — Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill — are better than the Ravens’ playmakers.
But the Ravens have proved their formula works against anyone. For much of the season, we wondered whether their defense was very good but a step short of best in the league. Now we’ve seen defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale’s blitz and coverage packages flummox the very best quarterbacks and offensive coaches in the sport.
Similarly, we’ve seen that they can rally on the road with rookie Lamar Jackson running perhaps the least orthodox offense in the NFL.
Meanwhile, the Ravens have returned to their accustomed excellence on special teams. Justin Tucker is great, of course. But Sam Koch hit a monster punt in the clutch, and Baltimore’s own Cyrus Jones has given them a dangerous and reliable punt returner.
They have a lot of work to do to make the playoffs, but they are the best of the contenders for the second wild-card spot.
Mike Preston, columnist: Despite losing, the Ravens made a strong statement about being serious playoff contenders in the postseason.
The Ravens not only continued to show the Chiefs’ major weakness in not being able to stop the run, but they also stymied one of the NFL’s best offenses and put constant pressure on quarterback Patrick Mahomes.