Lamar Jackson finally leads the Ravens against the Chiefs 36-35

Julio Cortez / Associate Press

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson scores a touchdown in the second half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, September 19, 2021, in Baltimore.

BALTIMORE – Lamar Jackson finally beat Patrick Mahomes, using his legs to rush 107 yards and scoring twice, including turning around in the end zone for the game-winning score as Baltimore beat Kansas City 36-35 on Sunday night.

Jackson was 0-3 against the Chiefs, and he needed all of his multiple skills to break through to give Mahomes his first loss in September after 11 wins. The showdown of the NFL MVPs – Mahomes in 2018, Jackson the following year – was crazy business from the start.

And the Ravens needed a Clyde Edwards-Helaire fumble as Kansas City headed for the shooting range to land it.

With Jackson leading the Ravens’ 251 yards rushing and throwing for 239 and one score, Baltimore ensured the four AFC North teams would have a 1-1 record. Kansas City, who allowed 481 yards and won 405, is also 1-1 in the rugged AFC West.

The dynamic Jackson entered the end zone to his right twice with dives – well, the last TD was more of a jump. The Ravens missed 2-point conversions twice, but Jackson’s 2-yard run for fourth after Edwards-Helaire’s trial and error secured the victory.

Like a video game without a controller for defense, teams moved up and down the field with little opposition. Most exciting was Travis Kelce’s 46-yard slalom in which he dodged almost all of Baltimore’s defensive unit, smashing three tackles before falling into the end zone, exhausted.

But that wasn’t enough as Mahomes finally threw an interception in September, by Tavon Young, who set up Jackson’s first touchdown.

The Chiefs broke a 14-14 tie with precise practice late in the first half, triggered by a 20-yard screen pass to back up tight end Blake Bell. Darrel Williams ran it from the 10th with 51 seconds to go.

It was enough time for Baltimore to reach shooting range of Justin Tucker, who had a 43-yard dash. The problem for the Ravens: Kansas City got the second half kick-off.

Mahomes capped a quick 74-yard run with a short pass to Byron Pringle, who eluded two tackles for 40 yards and a 28-17 lead.

And the problem for the Chiefs was their defense, which was falling apart – aside from Mathieu’s interceptions – had to take the field. He completely lost Marquise Brown on a 42-yard TD pass four plays after Pringle scored.

Of course, with Mahomes throwing the ball and guys like Kelce catching it, the Chiefs barely shrug under such circumstances. And Kelce’s highlights touchdown restored the 11-point margin.

Young’s pick put Baltimore close to midfield and another quick practice ended with Jackson sprinting to the right and dived for 2 yards. But a 2-point conversion pass to Brown was overturned by a penalty and the Ravens failed on the next try.

ESSENTIAL BEGINNING

Kansas City hit fast – and with their defense. When receiver Sammy Watkins, a former boss, slipped, Tyrann Mathieu was there to grab Jackson’s second pass of the game. The 2020 All-Pro accelerated on the left side for a touchdown.

Baltimore responded immediately with a 75-yard rush highlighted by Devonta Freeman’s 31-yard rush. Of the Chiefs 10, running back Ty’Son Williams was heading towards the end zone when he fumbled. The ball leapt into the air towards teammate Devin Duvernay, who leapt to match it.

So the Chiefs responded with a 92-yard run capped by Demarcus Robinson defeating Anthony Levine on a post ground for 33 yards. Less than nine minutes later it was 14-7.

Phew!

Mathieu’s second interception in the first quarter ended another impressive push from Baltimore as Jackson threw a triple cover. It didn’t help much as the penalties put the Chiefs in a third and a 39 – and even Mahomes Magic couldn’t handle that.

INJURIES

Baltimore, already ravaged by injuries, lost safety DeShon Elliott to a concussion and nose tackle Brandon Williams to a strained neck.

FANS AT HAND

For the first time since 2019, the Ravens sold out for a home game. They allowed limited attendance for part of last season during the pandemic.

Two groups performed outside of the stadium and the Ravens cheerleaders made a warm-weather appearance beforehand. The crowd of 70,417 were very excited just before kick-off when Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis was introduced and performed his usual dance on the field.

CENTURY RACE

With their 251 rushing yards, the Ravens have 41 straight games with at least 100 rushing yards. Pittsburgh held the NFL record at age 43 from 1974 to 1977.

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