“You come at the king, you best not miss.”
Allegany Communications Sports
The irony is rich, but not welcome, though all too familiar, in Baltimore. The modern-day pro sports Brooklyn, Baltimore, once again, will wait until next year.
The officiating was what the metrics (and the television critics in their advance notices) told us it would be — bad in what they didn’t call as opposed to what they did call.
The Kansas City Chiefs, the defending world champion, and the challenger, the Baltimore Ravens, both got what they deserved, though, in the Chiefs’ 17-10 AFC Championship Game win. The Chiefs took control with their pressure defense and their quick-strike, short-game approach on offense. Meanwhile, the Ravens abandoned the running game before they even used it.
The Ravens did work hard for their opportunities, but once they made those opportunities, particularly in the second half, they squandered them.
America’s sweetheart tight end Travis Kelce, who ran his mouth all night like a punk showing off for his girlfriend, was not called for a personal foul or unsportsmanlike; nor did anybody wearing red hold, despite many of CBS’s slow-motion replays; nor was there pass interference called on the Odell Beckham Jr. play in the middle of the field in the second half; nor was Ravens tight end Isaiah Likely tackled by a Kansas City defender in the end zone before the passed ball even arrived in the end zone.
The TV Show shenanigans aside, the Ravens offense did not show up on Sunday, beginning with the play-calling of former future head coach Todd Monken, who called the plays that did not include the running game at all, and who didn’t seem to make any adjustments to keep the ball out of Kansas City’s hands.
Quarterback Lamar Jackson had some moments, but he was under siege early and often and played poorly, as his offensive line, which was built to run-block but does not pass-block very well, was exposed for all to see because the Chiefs were sending five to six on the blitz for most of the game.
Memo to Eric DeCosta: Draft offensive linemen; then draft more.
Still, when Lamar did have time, he missed on deep balls and gave up a sack-strip, then threw an interception into triple coverage in the end zone (the same play Likely was tackled on).
Rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers made plays, which are now forgotten because of his stupid moments, such as the taunting penalty and his killer fumble at the 1-yard line.
The Ravens were called for five 15-yard penalties, and they all were costly. Again, no problem here with what was called; only with what was not called. Still, the Ravens offense was undisciplined and directionless from the get-go, and, really, owns the burden for this latest poor postseason home performance by a Ravens team.
The Ravens defense, ranked No. 1 in the NFL in most of the categories that matter, got off to a shaky start, thanks to the Chiefs’ quick and aggressive approach, but adjusted and played very well after the first quarter. Giving up 17 points to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs? Every team in the league would be delighted with that. Every team in the league would also like to have safety Kyle Hamilton on its team, as well. The guy is a football player, and will be the Ravens’ next great player.
In the end — actually, from the beginning — the Chiefs came to Baltimore ready to play and their best players made the best plays and carried their team to the Super Bowl.
The Ravens? Not so much. In fact, not at all, which is unfortunate. It was all right there for the Ravens this year, and the Ravens worked very hard and performed wonderfully all season to put everything right there for themselves.
They earned this opportunity; they made this opportunity, being a complete team and drawing a world-champion team seemingly having a subpar season by its own standards in a home game for an opportunity to go to the Super Bowl … Yet they came up with crickets. Nothing.
They let the answer go blowing in the wind.
These aren’t the good old days when the entire team could stay right here to vindicate itself. These aren’t the good old days — these are the salary-cap days, which means it’s time for another retooling. Be ready to say goodbye to a lot of favorite faces.
The Ravens are every bit the great organization everybody says they are, and they’ll be just fine. This, however, was an opportunity that shouldn’t have been squandered. Yet, it was.
Baltimore, though, is used to it, hon.
Just 59 days until Opening Day.
Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT