Patrick Mahomes put on a scintillating show while outperforming Lamar Jackson, and the Kansas City Chiefs deftly played the role of defending Super Bowl champions in a 34-20 thumping of the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night.
Mahomes juked, danced, and jumped in and out of the pocket. Sometimes he just dropped back and fired pinpoint throws downfield. The common thread was that just about everything he did worked against an overmatched Baltimore defense that had allowed only two touchdowns in its first two games.
With Mahomes leading the way, the Chiefs (3-0) emphatically ended the Ravens’ 14-game regular-season winning streak while extending their own run to 12 games (including playoffs).
Mahomes went 31 of 42 for 385 yards and four touchdowns. He was not intercepted, and avoided being sacked. The Chiefs led 27-10 at halftime and held on to defeat Baltimore (2-1) for the third year in a row.
In a duel between Mahomes, the 2018 NFL MVP, and the player who won that honor last year, Jackson was no match for the man whose resume also includes a Super Bowl MVP trophy.
Jackson completed 15 of 28 passes for 97 yards and ran for 83 yards, 30 of them on one carry during the Ravens' opening possession. The fleet-footed quarterback is 21-4 as Baltimore's starter, and three of those defeats have come against Mahomes and the Chiefs.
The Chiefs scored touchdowns on their first two possessions — one on a run by Mahomes, the other on a pass — for a 13-3 lead. Following that second score, Ravens rookie Devin Duvernay fielded the kickoff and sprinted down the right sideline for a 93-yard touchdown.
Kansas City followed with a three-and-out, but Baltimore simply could not contain Mahomes for long. After he got the ball back, Mahomes completed passes of 29 and 18 yards before hitting Tyreek Hill for a 20-yard score to cap a 73-yard drive.
A 49-yard touchdown pass from Mahomes to Mecole Hardman put the Chiefs up by 17 at halftime. The only other time Jackson trailed by that much at the break in an NFL game was last year, when the Chiefs held a 23-6 lead.
In this one, Mahomes pumped the brakes in the second half before Baltimore closed to 27-20. That's when Mahomes showed why he's the league's highest-paid player and arguably the NFL's best quarterback.
During a 13-play, 75-yard drive that produced the game-clinching score, Mahomes converted a third-and-5 with an 18-yard pass and ran for 12 yards on a third-and-10. He flipped a sidearm 12-yard pass to Sammy Watkins to set up a first-and-goal at the 2, from where Mahomes tossed a touchdown pass to appreciative tackle Eric Fisher with 8:14 remaining.
There were an estimated 250 people in the seats consisting of immediate family members of Ravens players, coaches and front office personnel. They were scattered in several sections behind the Baltimore sideline.
They were far more animated than the cardboard cutouts of people behind each end zone.
TAKE A KNEE
The Chiefs appeared to all stand on the sideline during the national anthem. The Ravens, on the other hand, offered a mixed bag of protests to call attention to social injustice: Some kneeled, including Jackson, some stood and a few others just sat on the bench.
Chiefs: CB L'Jarius Sneed was ruled out in the third quarter with a collarbone injury. ... DE Alex Okafor (hamstring) was inactive.
Chiefs: Host New England on Sunday. The Patriots are 2-1 with Cam Newton running the offense for the departed Tom Brady.
Ravens: A short in-state road trip Sunday to face the Washington Football Team (1-2).