Marcus Peters wasn’t with the Ravens when they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs last year, as he came to Baltimore via trade about three weeks later. Yet Peters has already had an extended look at the magic of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who will lead the Chiefs (2-0) into M&T Bank Stadium Sept. 28 to face the Ravens (2-0) in one of the most highly-anticipated games of the entire NFL regular season.
Peters was the Chiefs’ first-round draft pick in 2015 and played for the Chiefs during Mahomes’ rookie year in 2017. A year later, Peters was on the field for the Los Angeles Rams in 2018 when Mahomes threw for 478 yards and six touchdowns in a historic 54-51 Rams win against the Chiefs.
“He’s a Super Bowl champ. He’s the MVP of this league,” Peters said as he met with the media Sept. 24. “He’s a hell of a player, man. A guy like that, you just have to respect his game.”
The Ravens-Chiefs showdown is, understandably, being promoted as a clash of Lamar Jackson vs. Mahomes, a matchup of the last two league Most Valuable Players. As a regular-season starter, Jackson is 21-1 against every team not named the Chiefs but is 0-2 against the Chiefs, with both those games on the road.
Jackson, though, pointed out that “Jackson vs. Mahomes,” is a misguided narrative. “I don’t have to focus on Mahomes,” Jackson said. “I have to focus on their defense.”
True, but Peters has to focus on Mahomes.
Peters picked off Mahomes in that epic 54-51 Rams win for one of his 28 career interceptions — the most in the league since he entered as a rookie in 2015 — and he figures to have a critical role as the Ravens try to slow Mahomes and his high-octane offense.
Through two games this year, Mahomes is 51-for-79 for 513 yards, with five touchdown passes and no interceptions.
The Ravens have already seen the full arsenal of Mahomes in the past two meetings.
Mahomes’ desperation, fourth-down, 49-yard heave to Tyreek Hill set up a game-tying score in what proved to be a 27-24 Chiefs overtime win in 2018. Earlier in that game, Mahomes threaded a no-look pass to Demarcus Robinson that has become one of the defining throws of Mahomes’ career.
“I remember when he first started throwing the damn no-look pass in practice, and he’s been doing it since he was a rookie,” Peters said. “So the dude is amazing.”
Last year against the Ravens, Mahomes completed 27 of 37 passes for 374 yards and three touchdowns, including an 83-yarder to Mecole Hardman, in a 33-28 Chiefs win.
The Ravens’ defense was torched for 503 yards in that game — one of their two regular-season losses — but the Ravens stress they have a different defense this time around. Six defensive starters from that loss are no longer with the Ravens, while Peters, defensive linemen Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe and rookie linebacker Patrick Queen are among the additions.
“We’ve added a lot to our defense” since that loss, head coach John Harbaugh said. “We’ve added some scheme as well, so it’s just different. It’s never the same.”
Peters has thrived throughout his career on studying film, reading the quarterback, and taking calculated risks. Teammates such as Marlon Humphrey have raved about Peters’ football savvy and his ability to anticipate based on understanding and tendencies.
In the Ravens’ win against Houston last week, Peters peeled off his assignment to make a spectacular diving interception of Deshaun Watson, one of two momentum-changing turnovers by the Ravens’ defense.
“That’s the kind of interception that, really, only he can make,” Harbaugh said after the game. “You can’t coach that, what he saw there and how he handled that play.”
The Chiefs know well that this is what they are up against this week.
“Marcus was an All-Pro player here and was one of the best that I’ve seen at that position,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said. “I have a ton of respect for him. He’s a heck of a football player.”
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