Pulling out all the stops and utilizing every ounce of skill, including a somersault into the endzone for the winning score, Lamar Jackson finally beat Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City.
Jackson was 0-3 against the Chiefs, and he needed all of his multiple skills to break through to hand Mahomes his first loss in September after 11 victories. The matchup of NFL MVPs – Mahomes in 2018, Jackson the next year – was a wild affair from the start.
And the Ravens needed a fumble by Clyde Edwards-Helaire as Kansas City was marching into field goal range to clinch it.
Jackson rushed for 107 yards and scored twice – leading the Ravens’ 251 yards total rushing – and threw for 239 and a score, Baltimore ensured that all four AFC North teams would have 1-1 records. Kansas City, which allowed 481 yards and gained 405, also is 1-1 in the rugged AFC West.
Jackson had his ninth career 100-yard rushing game, tied with Michael Vick for most by a quarterback.
The dynamic Jackson twice got into the end zone to his right with dives – well, the last TD was more of a somersault.
“I landed on my butt,” he claimed, laughing.
Twice the Ravens misfired on 2-point conversions, but Jackson’s run for a first down on fourth-and-1 after Edwards-Helaire fumbled secured the victory.
“He (coach John Harbaugh) asked if we wanted to go for it,” Jackson said. "I said, `Hell yeah.'"
“I said, `Man, I got to get this first down no matter what.'”
Like a video game with no controller for defense, the teams moved up and down the field with little opposition. Most thrilling was Travis Kelce’s 46-yard slalom in which he avoided nearly the entire Baltimore defensive unit before falling into the end zone, exhausted.
But it was not enough because Mahomes finally threw an interception in September, to Tavon Young, which set up Jackson’s first touchdown run.
“We were strong and together and we kept that focus,” Jackson said, referring to the overtime loss at Las Vegas to open the season. “I know my team is going to look at me and I got to do it for my guys.”
The Chiefs broke a 14-14 tie with a precise drive late in the first half, sparked by a 20-yard screen pass to backup tight end Blake Bell. Darrel Williams ran it in from the 10 with 51 seconds to go.
That was enough time for Baltimore to reach field-goal range for Justin Tucker, who nailed a 43-yarder. The problem for the Ravens: Kansas City got the second-half kickoff.
Mahomes capped a quick 74-yard drive with a short pass to Byron Pringle, who eluded two tacklers for a 40-yard score and a 28-17 lead.
And the problem for the Chiefs was their defense, which was getting shredded – aside from Tyrann Mathieu’s interceptions – had to take the field. It completely lost Marquise Brown on a 42-yard jump pass TD four plays after Pringle scored.
“Lamar’s a heck of a football player,” Chiefs DE Frank Clark said. "He does everything that he can. ... They took it. They came in, beat us in the rushing attack. We missed tackles.”
Of course, with Mahomes chucking the ball and guys like Kelce catching it, the Chiefs barely shrug in such circumstances. And Kelce’s highlight-reel touchdown restored the 11-point margin; he finished with seven catches for 109 yards.
Young’s pick – Mahomes said "It’s probably one of the worst interceptions I’ve probably ever had” – set up Baltimore near midfield and yet another quick drive was finished by Jackson’s sprint right and dive for a 2-yard score. But a 2-point conversion pass to Brown was negated by a penalty and the Ravens failed on the next try.
They didn't miss the winning score when they got the chance to go ahead. That Jackson made like a gymnast added a superb twist to it all.
“I love being around this team,” Harbaugh said of his undermanned group. “I told them it would be an honor to be on the field with them. What makes me proud of these guys is that's who we are and what we do.”
Mahomes was 24 for 31 for 343 yards and three TDs, with the interception.
Kansas City struck quickly – and with its defense. When receiver Sammy Watkins, a former Chief, slipped, Mathieu was there to grab Jackson’s second pass of the game. The 2020 All-Pro sped down the left side for a touchdown.
Baltimore answered right back on a 75-yard drive highlighted by Devonta Freeman’s 31-yard run. From the Chiefs 10, running back Ty’Son Williams was headed into the end zone when he fumbled. The ball popped into the air to teammate Devin Duvernay, who surged in to tie it.
So the Chiefs responded with a 92-yard drive capped by Demarcus Robinson beating Anthony Levine on a post pattern for a 33-yard score. Less than nine minutes in, it was 14-7.
Mathieu’s second interception of the opening quarter ended another impressive Baltimore drive as Jackson threw into triple coverage. It didn’t help much as penalties put the Chiefs in a third-and-39 — and not even Mahomes Magic could handle that.
For the first time since 2019, the Ravens had a full house for a home game. They did allow limited attendance for part of last season during the pandemic.
Two bands played outside the stadium and Ravens cheerleaders made an appearance in balmy weather beforehand. The crowd of 70,417 got plenty of excitement just before kickoff when Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis was introduced and did his customary dance on the field.
With their 251 yards rushing, the Ravens have 41 consecutive games with at least 100 yards on the ground. Pittsburgh holds the NFL record at 43 from 1974-77.
Kansas City hosts the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.
Baltimore is at Detroit on Sunday